BOILED OVER by Barbara Ross   

Barbara Ross
Kensington Mystery
Pub Date: May 6, 2014

It’s Founder’s Weekend in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, and at Julia Snowden’s urging, the Snowden Family Clambake has set up shop on the town pier to take advantage of the increased foot traffic. The clambake looks poised to do a brisk business – until a human foot falls out of their portable fire pit just as the festivities are about to begin. Now the pier is closed, the pit is evidence, and one of their hardest working employees is wanted for questioning in relation to the crime. Can Julia solve the mystery and save the day, or will this fiasco be what finally sinks their financially strapped family business?


Barbara Ross’ first Maine Clambake Mystery, Clammed Up, was one of the best cozies I read last year, and I’m happy to report that her follow up, Boiled Over, is every bit as good as – if not better than – its predecessor. Boiled Over is a briskly paced, sharply written tale of love, lies, loss, and revenge in a small Maine town. The setting is marvelous; Ross perfectly captures the sights, scents, sounds, and mood of coastal New England in August, and she’s crafted such a wonderfully compelling history for Busman’s Harbor that the town is practically a character in its own right. The plot is twisty, the narration is witty, and Ross’ whodunit is both clever and complex, but if you ask me, what really elevates Boiled Over is its cast. The folks who inhabit Ross’ fictional universe are so vividly drawn and fully fleshed that it wouldn’t at all surprise me to encounter the lot of them while driving up the shore one day. More than that, though, Ross clearly just gets people, and that understanding shines through in her character work; every thought, every word, every deed, and every interaction rings 100% true, and that’s ultimately what brings Ross’ tale to life. (And what a glorious life it is!)


Take it from me: it doesn’t get any better than summer on the coast of Maine. (There’s a reason us natives put up with the long, snowy winters and the wet, buggy springs.) If you can’t make the trip yourself, though, then I highly suggest you pay Vacationland a fictional visit via Barbara Ross’ utterly fabulous Boiled Over.


Katrina Niidas Holm