Early October is “winding down” time in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, but there’s nothing relaxing about it for Julia Snowden. Between busloads of weekend leaf peepers at the Snowden Family Clambake and a gut renovation of the old mansion on Morrow Island, she’s keeping it all together with a potentially volatile skeleton crew—until one of them turns up dead under the firewood.
When the Russian demo team clearing out the mansion discovers a room that’s been sealed off for decades, Julia’s baffled as to its purpose and what secrets it might have held. Tensions are already simmering with the crew, but when one of the workers is found murdered, things come to a boil. With the discovery of another body—and a mysterious diary with Cyrillic text in the hidden room—the pressure’s on Julia to dig up a real killer fast. But she’ll have to sort through a pile of suspects, including ex-spouses, a spurned lover, and a recently released prisoner, to fish out one clammed-up killer.
Praise for Steamed Open
“Sure to appeal to readers who treasure the Maine coast, Ross’s latest continues the lives and minor dramas of her fictionalized version of Boothbay Harbor with amiable characters.”
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I Loved This Story!
(Saturday, January 25, 2020)
We are back in Busman’s Harbor, Maine in the final days of the clambake season. Julia is so excited because when the clambakes end the demolition of the inside of the island mansion, Windsholme, can really get going. Hopes are to get as much done as possible before the weather shuts work down. The really cool thing is a Morrow relative that spent summers in the mansion has come to take a final look. Marguerite remembers her time there as a child and wanted to see the place one more time before the renovations. While not necessary for Marguerite to approve their plans Julia and her mother feel that it would nice to have her blessing. A surprising discovery is made right before Marguerite’s visit that sends the family on a quest to get answers. Another find may answer some of their questions.
With Snowden Family Clambake working with a skeleton crew to finish out the year there is clear there is some tension between two members of the team. The tension escalates to a fistfight that is broken up only to find one of them dead the next day under the woodpile of the island. Later Julia finds another body. Why is all this happening on her family’s island? Could the deaths be related to the discovery in the mansion or is there something else going on?
I really loved this story. The historic part was fascinating and it comes with its own mystery. The family mansion has been vacant since 1929, so it was wonderful to hear an account of a family member from her little girl’s perspective. A discovery that has been Sealed Off in the mansion opens the door to another piece of history dating back to the late 1800s. I was completely captivated by this part of the book. The descriptions of the mansion are always very detailed, With each book in the series, the images in my mind become more vivid. I really am looking forward to reading more about the incredible renovation.
The current murders are a second mystery to solve. Julia has a vested interest because they took place on her family’s island and the prime suspect is not only her employee but the brother of her boyfriend Chris who has checkered past. It is a mystery full of red herrings. Julia found other suspects and works her way through the plethora of twists and turns. But by the end of the book, while the known mysteries are wrapped up, the author throws another one at readers leading to the next book.
Ms. Ross is a stellar storyteller. She has created characters that are easy to get invested in. The recurring characters continue to grow and the new characters get fleshed out quickly and have a true purpose to the story. Every time I open a book by Barbara Ross I know I am in for a real treat and that is just what Sealed Off was. Autumn in Busman’s Harbor was absolutely delightful. Leaf peepers and murder went together nicely but the history portions were my absolute favorite.