reviewed by Pam Guynn
Shucked Apart by Barbara Ross is the ninth book in the Maine Clambake Mystery series and is partially set in the fictional small town of Busman’s Harbor, Maine while the rest of it takes place in the real town of Damariscotta.
This cozy mystery features amateur sleuth Julia Snowden who is also the proprietor of the Snowden Family Clambake Company. The author brings mystery, murder, and family drama to his well-written novel.
Julia runs the business side, and her brother-in-law, Sonny, runs the clambake during the tourist season. Chris Durand, Julia’s boyfriend, brings Andie Greatorex to see Julia when Andie is assaulted and robbed of two buckets of oyster seed worth $35,000. Is someone trying to put Andie out of business or is this just a theft? Who could it be? Why?
Julia’s character is well developed, but I did not connect with her. The other characters did not feel as fully developed. However, that could be because this is book nine in the series and the depth and growth occurred in prior books.
On the other hand, the author did a great job of transporting me to oyster capital of New England. I got a great feel for the build up to tourist season that many of the businesses go through in the area as well as the hard work of oyster farming. The reader also gains insight into how oyster farmers are perceived by others as well as the processes they use. The setting felt authentic.
The plot is well done with several suspects and red herrings, requiring the protagonist to sift through the lies and omissions to solve this mystery. This is a solid whodunit. Themes include murder, family relationships, gullibility, trust, and much more. The end of the book includes several recipes. I would have liked more resolution in one area of Julia’s life, but this is a thread that can be used in the next book.
Overall, this book was entertaining, fun, and well-paced. I don’t usually start a series with number nine and that may be why I did not fully connect with Julia. While this novel can be read as a standalone, I am sure that reading the earlier books would provide additional background and character development as well as add richness to the reading experience. I want to go back and read them. If you like cozy mysteries set in small towns and filled with lots of misdirection, then I recommend that you check out this series.
I won a digital copy of this book from Kensington Books and the author in a Goodreads Giveaway. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way.