Barbara Ross has been entertaining us with the Maine Clambake Mysteries since 2013, when “Clammed Up” was first published. “Clammed Up” received an Agatha nomination for Best Contemporary Novel, along with several other honors. Readers loved its engaging characters set in the world of Maine Clambakes and summer tourism. Let’s not forget the delicious murder that set the tone for the dastardly deeds in every book since.
Julia Snowden, the heroine of the series, takes a leave of absence from her venture capital job in New York City to help the family business get back on its feet financially. Instead of dealing with spreadsheets and inventory, she finds herself having to solve a murder that occurs on Morrow Island, the site of the Snowden Family Clambakes. A murder that occurs before a scheduled wedding and reception can get underway. The police shut down the crime scene – which means the Clambake – and Julia must work quickly in order to get the business open again and keep the bank at bay. And, we’re hooked. 🙂
The books are (mostly) set in fictional Busman’s Harbor, Maine, and Ross does a great deal of research to support each storyline – including the character of the island itself. The Morrow Island of the series was created in Ross’ mind – not based on any one of the 4400 coastal Maine islands – but after the series was well under way, a friend sent her the link to an actual island for sale that incorporated many of the features she had invented for her stories. Check it out and see if your imaginings match the real estate photos.
In real life, Ross lives part of the year in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, with her family, but does not run an inn. Her mother-in-law owned the Seafarer Inn for a number of years, and when she retired, Barb and her husband bought it to use as a summer home. There are no paying guests anymore. Barb shared that she can be seen busily writing away on the big porch in good weather.
When asked about her writing process, Barb said:
“I am emphatically not a morning person, so I do the ‘business of writing’–answering emails, blog posts, etc. as I enjoy my coffee in the morning. I write in the afternoons when I'm doing first drafts and with revisions, I can pretty much work all day.”
Barbara contributes to two blogging groups: Maine Crime Writers and New England-based cozy writers at Wicked Cozy Authors. Take a look at a recent blog post from the Wickeds, where she chats about her thought process for Morrow Island.
One of the many fun parts of the series is the food mentioned in passing as lunches, dinners, or snacks. The recipes for these mouth-watering sounding dishes are included at the end of each book. Several were created by Barb’s husband, Bill Carito. I suspect that Julia’s hunky boyfriend’s wonderful cooking skills are patterned after Barb’s husband’s substantial talent in the kitchen.
One of my favorites is the lobster mac & cheese – recipe at the end of “Clammed Up” – which I’ve made several times. Yum, yum, YUM!
Barb suggests two “very Maine-y” recipes:
Lobster Deviled Eggs
Pumpkin Whoopie pies, the official state snack of Maine.
With its multi-dimensional ensemble cast, perfectly wicked guest villains, wonderfully researched plot lines, surprises galore, and the always fascinating look at life on an island dependent on outside cash to keep it going, we are happy to read as many Clambake mysteries as Barbara Ross can write. Book #6 is “Stowed Away,” coming in December 2017.
Please pass the lobster and blueberry grunt. Hold the bodies until after dinner, though. 😉
Read review of "Clammed Up" here.
Read review of "Musseled Out" here.
Read review of Agatha nominated "Fogged Inn" here.
For more information about Barbara Ross, her other books, and appearances, please visit www.maineclambakemysteries.com