Shucked Apart by Barbara Ross Shucked Apart by Barbara Ross
Series: Maine Clambake Mystery #9
Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation on February 23, 2021
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 231
Format: eARC
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four-stars

The Snowden Family Clambake Company has a beloved reputation in Busman’s Harbor, Maine. Almost as famous is the sleuthing ability of proprietor Julia Snowden, which is why an oyster farmer seeks her out when she’s in trouble.

When Andie Greatorex is robbed of two buckets of oyster seed worth $35,000, she wonders if somebody’s trying to mussel her out of business. Could it be a rival oyster farmer, a steamed former employee, or a snooty summer resident who objects to her unsightly oyster cages floating on the beautiful Damariscotta River? There’s also a lobsterman who’s worried the farm’s expanding lease will encroach on his territory and Andie’s ex-partner, who may come to regret their split. Before Julia can make much headway in the investigation, Andie turns up dead, stabbed by a shucking knife. Now it’s up to Julia to set a trap for a cold and clammy killer . . .

The Snowden Family Clambake is gearing up for the season and Julia Snowden is busy preparing and hiring seasonal workers. Julia, as we know by now- this is the 9th in the series, is also a bit of a crime solver on the side. When her boyfriend, Chris, asks her to help one of his friends, of course she says yes. Andie is an oyster farmer. Someone assaulted her and stole two buckets of oyster seed, worth a lot of money. Andie, however, doesn’t think robbery was the goal; she thinks someone is trying to sabotage her business. Before Julia can ask more than a few questions, Andie is murdered.

There are plenty of suspects, from other oyster farmers to lobstermen to summer people. The plot was well-done. There were plenty of clues pointing in different directions and the solution was complicated, in a good way. I didn’t guess who the killer was.

This is maybe the third Clambake mystery I’ve read. I like Julia as an amateur sleuth. She shares information with the detectives, doesn’t have a cop boyfriend, and is willing to ask people she’s close to tough questions. The characters are well-developed and their interactions, motives, and secrets work well. I did feel like I missed what was causing some of the tension between Julia and Chris, probably from not having read the series in order.

I found the information on oyster farming interesting and liked how well the research was incorporated into the story. I always love learning something.

Shucked Apart is a good mystery, well-paced and keeps your attention. I really should read more of the Maine Clambake series. I always enjoy them.

About Barbara Ross

Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries and the Jane Darrowfield Mysteries. Her books have been nominated for multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and have won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. Barbara’s novellas are included in holiday anthologies from Kensington Publishing.

Barbara’s first mystery novel, The Death of an Ambitious Woman, was published by Five Star/Gale/Cengage in August 2010. In her former life, Barbara was a co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of successful start-ups in educational technology. She and her husband live in Portland, Maine.

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