Welcome! Barbara Ross is the author of A Maine Clambake Mystery series as well as Jane Darrowfield Mysteries (Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody releases June 30, 2020). She has won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction and has been nominated for multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel. Barbara and her husband live in Portland, Maine.
Sealed Off by Barbara Ross returns readers to Busman’s Harbor, Maine where it is October which means the season is coming to an end. Julia Snowden runs Snowden Family Clambake Company alongside her mother, sister and brother-in-law on Morrow Island. They are glad the season is ending because they are tired of the bickering between Jason Caraway and Terry Durand over Emmy Bailey. The last thing Julia wants to do is fire her boyfriend’s brother. The demo crew has arrived at Windsholme for the first stage of the renovations to their old family home. They end up doing demo work on the wrong floor and uncover a room that had been completely sealed off with all the furnishing as well as a woman’s belonging completely intact. Julia finds an old diary belong to the governess who inhabited the room in 1898. The entire family is curious to learn what happened to Lilly Smythe including visiting relatives Marguerite and her granddaughter, Tallulah. Unfortunately, things escalate between Terry and Jason. The next day, Julia goes to fire Terry, but she cannot find him nor Chris’s boat where he is residing. Jason along with his ex-wife are also no-shows. Julia pitches in to help with the fire and finds Jason dead by the woodpile. Terry, of course, is at the top of the suspect list and Chris implores Julia to don her sleuthing cap to clear Terry of any wrongdoing. Can Julia reel in the killer before Terry ends up back behind bars?
Sealed Off by Barbara Ross is the eighth A Maine Clambake Mystery. It can be read on its own for those who have just discovered this series. Julia Snowden has her hands full in Sealed Off between running the family business, getting ready for the opening of the winter restaurant she runs with Chris, the renovations at Windsholme, the murder of an employee, visiting relatives and the hidden room. Marguerite is an elderly relative who lived at Windsholme when she was a child and is visiting Busman’s Harbor with her granddaughter, Tallulah. She is arriving to take a last look at the house before the renovations begin. I like that she can describe what the once stately summer home looked like when it was at its prime. I enjoyed Marguerite’s readings of the diary. I admit that I found the story of the nanny more compelling than the modern day whodunit. I just loved the descriptions of the room’s furnishing and the beautiful clothing the governess left behind. I was a little disappointed with the outcome (but that is just me). Jason Caraway and Terry Durand bickering about Emmy Bailey was unprofessional and I was surprised that Julia let it go on as long as she did (I know it is fiction—but I thought it odd). No one has bothered to tell Emmy that her daughter could be Terry’s child and that Huntington’s runs in the family. I was happy that this particular storyline is put to bed by the end of the novel. The death of Jason Caraway along with what happened to the missing demo crew worker was not a head scratcher. There was a lack of suspects plus obvious clues that made this puzzle a snap to solve. There were some exciting suspenseful moments that I relished. I would like to see Julia and Chris’s relationship progress. They are happy, but I wonder what the future holds for them especially regarding children. Sealed Off is a good story, but it is not my favorite in the series. I am, though, looking forward to the next A Maine Clambake Mystery. This is a series that I enjoy reading with its charming town and engaging characters. Sealed Off has demolition drama, squabbling suitors, a recondite room, a discovered diary, and fine food.
Sealed Off is available through Amazon* along with other major booksellers (Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks). Clammed Up is the first book in A Maine Clambake Mystery series and it is available through Kindle Unlimited. You can find a list of all the novels in A Maine Clambake Mystery series here. Don't forget that Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody by Barbara Ross will be out on June 30. Thank you for reading my review. The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen is on deck for tomorrow. I hope that you have an amazing day. Take care and Happy Reading!
The Avid Reader
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