Nogged Off by Barbara Ross Nogged Off by Barbara Ross
Series: Maine Clambake Mystery #4.5
Published by Kensington Books on November 1, 2019 (first published November 30, 2016)
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Cozy Mystery, Novella
Pages: 111
Format: eBook
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four-stars

‘Twas the week before Christmas, and Julia Snowden’s escape from New York has just hit a snag. Fresh off accidentally poisoning half her colleagues with her “Killer Eggnog,” Julia’s would-be subletter, Imogen Geinkes, is now jobless and homeless—leading Julia to invite the young woman home for the holidays in Maine. But when they unload the rental truck in Busman’s Harbor, they find something that wasn’t on anyone’s packing list: the body of Imogen’s former boyfriend.

Suddenly, the wordplay in Imogen’s name—“I’m a jinx”—isn’t so adorable. But for all the calamities that follow in Imogen’s wake, Julia’s certain she’s no killer. As Julia digs into the case, the appearance of the ex’s brother—his identical twin—doubles the confusion. Has Imogene been double-crossed by an evil twin? Was the eggnog “accident” no accident at all? If Julia doesn’t unwrap the murderer’s true identity soon, one of the twelve days of Christmas could be her last . . .

Yes, I’ve started reading Christmas books. No, I haven’t started Christmas shopping.

I read a Halloween novella in the Maine Clambake Mystery series and enjoyed it, so I picked up this Christmas one. I do love seasonal reads. Nogged Off was fun and light and has a bit of a twist at the end.

Julia is trying to wrap everything up in New York, bringing all of her belongings back to Maine. The problem is that Imogene, who was going to take over the apartment, has just lost her job and broken up with her boyfriend. Julia takes pity on her and brings her to Maine for Christmas. And that’s when all the trouble starts. Imogene just attracts disaster. And then Imogene’s ex-boyfriend shows up, murdered in the back of the moving truck.

This is a novella, and the focus is mostly on Julia and Imogene. The mystery itself was good. We see the clues along with Julia and the cops are not bumbling, just caught against the constraints of getting things done over the holidays. Julia’s mom and sister are around too; everyone’s getting ready for Christmas. Part of the whodunnit was a bit surprising, although maybe I should have seen it coming.

This is a series I need to go back and start from the beginning. I enjoy spending time in Busman’s Harbor. I like that Julia may be a bit trusting, but doesn’t seem to do too many stupid things. I like her boyfriend Chris, who is supportive without being bossy.

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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