A Julia Snowden, Maine Clambake Mystery by Barbara Ross
Review: Julia Snowden and her family are getting ready for Busman's Harbor's first Founder's Weekend, even constructing "an oddly beautiful contraption" her brother-in-law designed for the Family Clambake area, something he terms "The Claminator". But just after he lights it on the morning of the event, it's clear something is wrong … and when a burnt foot pops out from under the hardwood fire, everyone knows what it is, in Boiled Over, the second mystery in this series by Barbara Ross.
The victim is identified as Stephen Noyes, owner of a local RV park. The police suspect newcomer Cabe Stone as the killer; he had been hired set up the Claminator the night before and once the body was discovered, conveniently run off the pier on which the clambake was taking place. Julia had recommended Cabe for the job, though really didn't know him; he had, however, just a month earlier saved her life when she was in danger of being run over by a car. Still, she can't believe someone who was so kind to her and easy-going in general could be a cunning killer, and even though his subsequent action seems to imply his guilt, she sets off to investigate on her own.
The murder mystery in the present relies on details from the past, so the narrative jumps back and forth in time with only a chapter heading month to give the reader an indication of when what follows takes place. (Sometimes the time jumps mid-chapter, and occasionally there is a backstory embedded within the present, all of which is even more confusing.) To be sure, it doesn't happen all that often but it is an awkward way to construct the story, one that really detracts from its stronger points, namely, the Maine setting and the motive behind the murder. And while the characters generally ring true to the setting and genre, Julia's frequently ambivalent attitude towards her family, her friends, and maybe that special man in her life, isn't all that endearing. Cozies typically don't — indeed, shouldn't — require much effort on the part of the reader to enjoy, but Boiled Over may be an exception here.
Acknowledgment: Kensington Books provided an eARC of Boiled Over for this review.
Review Copyright © 2014 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Boiled Over: Maine
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Boiled Over by Barbara Ross — A Julia Snowden, Maine Clambake Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Publication Date: May 2014
List Price: $7.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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