Steamed Open

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 06 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

Steamed Open by Barbara Ross is the seventh book in the Maine Clambake Mystery series.  Summer has arrived, and that means Julia and her family are busy with the clambakes for tourists.  When the heir of the town's mansion and public beach access puts up a gate blocking access, everyone is in an uproar.  Unfortunately one person is angrier than the others when the heir becomes a murder victim.  I love the setting and descriptions.  I was not even discouraged when I figured out the mystery early on.  I did find Julia's boyfriend to be extremely tiring.  I hope his character "grows up" before the next book.
Was this review helpful?
It’s summer again in Busman’s Harbor, ME, and season activities have taken off. However, when a beloved town resident dies, and her heir comes in to take over her mansion and its grounds, things do not continue so amenable to the townsfolk. Her heir, Bartholomew Frick, has put up a gate, denying access to the beach, via the access road and parking lot that runs through the property, to the town’s beachcombers, lighthouse buffs, and clammers. Julia Snowden, whose family runs a clambake tourist business, approaches Frick to try to convince him how important that access is to the town and ends up being the last person to see him alive.  Once Frick is murdered, Julia ends up a major part of the investigation.  In this book, the local law enforcement is not upset that this resident is trying to figure out who the murder is, just as they are. Julia ferrets her way through a myriad of clues, mysteries, and red herrings to get to the bottom of things. In the process, she discovers secrets no one ever talked about within the town, and which most townsfolk never even knew about.  Meanwhile, the tourist season continues, and the town continues to function as it normally does during the summer months of the year, providing a good backdrop for the mystery.

I have read the other books in the series, and this one, while good, was just not as good as some of the others for me. It did not have the excitement as action-filled as the others. It was interesting to get a picture of how the Snowden family operates their tourist clambake business. There also were a lot of interesting characters, from the clam digger (who is among the vendors who supply the Snowden family clams for their clambakes) to the RVers who are on a tour to see all lighthouses and who have been closed out of their reservation to stay at the town lighthouse keepers cottage by Frick. Figuring out who the murderer was ended up not being as difficult as it has been in other mysteries, and early on I developed some solid suspicions. Julia Snowden is, as always, an interesting character—a strong and insightful woman who definitely has a role in the town and who can delve into mysteries and come up with explanations as well as answers. This may not be my favorite in the series, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it, as any reader who likes the series, books set int his area or good cozies will. I received this from NetGalley to read and review.
Was this review helpful?
Barbara Ross entertains with another Maine Clambake mystery in Steamed Open. Julia who is the last to see the unpleasant new heir of a large Maine mansion alive seeks the heir to the mansion .   At the same time she investigates whodunit?  Suspects include her boyfriend and the former housekeeper.  A rollicking Maine cozy, just the thing for a pleasant afternoon's read.
Was this review helpful?
Another excellent edition to a wonderful series! Full of twists and turns that leaves you wanting more and enjoying each moment until the end when the killer is caught.
Was this review helpful?
Steamed Open by Barbara Ross. I loved this book. I felt like I was on the tour boat going to the Snowden’s Clambake on Morrow Island. The plot was good. The characters were friendly and believable. I can’t wait until the next Barbara Ross book is released.
Was this review helpful?
Though this is the first book that I have read in the series I was pleasantly surprised. I found the plot to be filled with mystery and secrets that had me guessing until the very end!The story line itself was easy to keep up with. Good read.
Was this review helpful?
This is the seventh book in the Main Clambake series.  Julia Snowden runs her families clambake business.  A new neighbor, who inherited his home from a recently deceased resident,  blocks access to the beach that many locals depend on for income.  And tourists that booked a stay in the lighthouse were also denied access.  Julia attempts to meet with the neighbor so try to make a compromise.  Shortly after the neighbor is found dead.  With the whole town having a issue with him, there are no shortage of suspects..

There were many twists in this book that I enjoyed.  We also learn more about Julia's boyfriend Chris in this book.  I will definitely be reading the next book.
Was this review helpful?
I love this series and every time I read it I want to pack the car and head for Maine.  This is book 7 in the Maine Clambake Mystery series and it's another winner of a cozy mystery.  It's a busy summer in Busman's Harbor but the weather isn't the only thing heating up.  When Bartholomew Frick inherits his Aunt's property he promptly closes access to the beaches.  Now the fisherman and the Snowdon Family Clambake can't get their supplies.  It's no surprise he ends up dead. Too many people wanted him dead including other heirs.  Good mystery to solve.  I received a copy of this ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Was this review helpful?
In Busman, Maine, Julia Snowden's family operate clam bake dining adventure during the summer tourist season. Obviously a steady supply of fresh clams is critical. But after the supply is threatened when the heir to a property shuts off access to the beach in a local claiming spot. When said heir is murderef, Julia steps up to keep her friends from being implicated. Of course, the real not in this series is more than a quick rundown of the plot. Julia's friends and family keep us wanting to revisit Maine. A quick, but totally enjoyable read. Highly recommended!
Was this review helpful?
This was an incredibly good story. I have read all the books in this series and this was is my favorite by far. 
I loved  The story line and the mystery kept me guessing until the end.
I am glad that Chris was able to open up about his family history.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this series, but lately it seems like Julia Snowden is all about the nosing around and not so much on her family life.  This story finds her trying to solve the mystery behind who inherits an elderly matron's estate when her beneficiary is then murdered. Julia has to go to through some of the woman's family histories and dig up old secrets.
While this happening, she has a situation going with her boyfriend, which you don't really hear too much about until the end.  It seems though as the book reaches its conclusion that bits of her personal life are pasted in.  I wished there was more character development in Julia's family and friends.  I hope the next chapter in Julia's story gets back more to her family and clambake as the restoration occurs on Windsholme.
Was this review helpful?
This is the 7th book in the Maine Clambake Mystery series.  I've read them all, it's an enjoyable series and this book is a worthy addition.  A beach that has long been open to the public for clamming etc. is suddenly closed by after a new owner inherits the property and the town of Busman's Harbor is in an uproar.  Julia Snowden, the owner of the Snowden Family Clambake, is concerned.  She gets her clams from one of the clammers who uses the beach.  Hoping to resolve the issue, she goes to talk to the new owner and finds him dead. 

Julia wants to find the killer, and there are several suspects.  She puts herself in danger before she can close the case.  I recommend this book.

Thanks to Kensington Publishing and NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This is the seventh book in the series and it keeps getting better in this one a local woman died and her relative Bartholomew Frick has moved in and closed off the beach and angered alot of people including local clammers who have been clamming in that area for a long time.  When Julia tries to reason with him she finally sees that there is no reasoning with him.  Next thing Julia finds out that someone has killed Bartholomew she is determined to figure out who killed him and why?

This was such a great trip back to Busman's Harbor to see how Julia, Chris and everyone else in town is doing.  We also see Julia struggle with a secret Chris has kept from her and how she decides to handle it.  I loved walking around with Julia has she deals with potential suspects.  And of course the guilty party will keep you guessing until the end.
Was this review helpful?
Enjoyed reading this book. Very interesting good storyline and easy to follow.? Nice mix of characters in there too
Was this review helpful?
“My dear friends think I have cause for concern because they know something about 
me you don’t. I killed my husband, you see. For most of the years I was 
away from Herrickson House, I was in prison.”

My astonished reaction was unfortunately obvious to all of them. 
I consciously closed my gaping mouth, giving Mrs. Fischer a tight grin.

“So if you help me, dear, I would appreciate it, she said. 
“When a crime is committed, the police love to look no further than at the criminals.”
Barbara Ross, Steamed Open, Kindle Loc. 953

It’s summertime in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, and the clamming is easy—or it was until a mysterious new neighbor blocks access to the beach, cutting off the Snowden Family Clambake’s supply. Julia Snowden is just one of many townspeople angered by Bartholomew Frick’s decision. But which one of them was angry enough to kill?
 
Beachcombers, lighthouse buffs, and clammers are outraged after Frick puts up a gate in front of his newly inherited mansion. When Julia urges him to reconsider, she’s the last to see him alive—except the person who stabs him in the neck with a clam rake. As she pores through a long list of suspects, Julia meets disgruntled employees, rival heirs, and a pair of tourists determined to visit every lighthouse in America. They all have secrets, and Julia will have to work fast to expose the guilty party—or see this season’s clam harvest dry up for good. 
Amazon.com

I wrote this interview before Christmas. One afternoon I had every intention of making and baking cookies, that is, until I started reading Barbara Ross’s seventh book in the Maine Clambake mystery series, Steamed Open. Maybe I’d had enough Christmas already, maybe the cold outside made me sink into the pages depicting hot and sweaty summer, maybe I was just lazy, but I was lost in the mesmerizing middle of her book. 

Yes, when other books drift into the dreaded-doldrums midsection, Steamed Open blew into full-speed ahead. As a writer, I can’t help but think of those plots that form in entirety like an unexpected gift. I wondered if that had happened to Barb when writing this book. 

Let’s not talk of murder, which would only lead to spoilers. This book is about mothers. Mothers, mothers everywhere. The death of a mother preceding the murder, most of the suspects, and mothers in the backstories. And they were all different. Each child with his own story of and relationship to his mother. What circumstances knit and healed while others wounded and festered? After reading the book, ask yourselves the question.

Please welcome Barbara Ross back to WWK.					     E. B. Davis   

Have you plotted your series? Did this book’s plot present itself fait accompli? 

Thanks for your kind words about the book, E.B. I am so glad you liked it. Unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of a chess-player mind where I can see dozens of moves ahead. In this case, I knew I wanted to write about the contentious shoreline access issues we have in Maine. And I wanted to feature clams, which are an important part of the clambake. Earlier books had focused on the lobsters and the blueberries in the dessert. And lighthouses. I knew I wanted to write about lighthouses. The lighthouse, beach, and the death of the 101-year-old Lou Herrickson that kicks off the book are very loosely inspired by real people and places on an island, reachable by bridge, from our peninsula in Maine.

About these “soft-shell” clams—I looked them up because I’d never heard of them. Where I live, on Hatteras, the only soft shelled anything are crabs. The difference, as I understand it, is that soft-shell clams don’t close their bivalve hinges all the way and have longer necks because they dig to deeper depths in the sand. I’m used to eating hard-shell clams such as little neck and cherry stone as steamers. (We have quohogs, but you could play jacks with them.) In fact, if I found a clam that wouldn’t close all the way, I’d throw it out. Likewise, after cooking, if one hadn’t opened, I’d throw it out. So, way up yonder, do you all have different clams and cooking standards?

We have quahogs, too. Those go in the clam chowder. Steamers likewise aren’t eaten if they come out of the clambake fire closed. The soft shell range does extend farther south than New England, but we’re the North Americans who feature them most prominently in our cuisine.

Heloise Herrickson died before the start of the book. Her memorial service was held onboard the Jacquie II where people described her as a philanthropist, a collector, an artist, having humor in old age as she donned outlandish wigs to compensate for her thinning hair, giving generously to the community, and yet…. Does everyone have a dark side, not perhaps, unprovoked, but, does everyone possess some duality?

When I was writing, I didn’t think of it as a dark side and a lighter side. I thought of it as a “before” and “after.” Lou Herrickson drew a firm line in her life when she married Francis Herrickson and moved to Maine. Mainers knew her only one way. Others, from earlier in her life, knew her as another. 

I asked that previous question because I felt that, although Heloise had a few specific qualifications in her will, many of the problems incurred were due to her not specifying and qualifying her wishes, leaving many in want. Did she have a philosophy about life and death that dictated a more laissez-faire will?

I think Lou’s will was the way it was because she wanted to do what her long-dead husband would have wished. He had no children, though he had a sister, the grandmother of Bart Frick who inherits. The house, beach and lighthouse come from Francis’s family. Lou leaves everything to that side, even though the bulk the money and possessions in the house come from her.

I thought Le Roi (how did he get his name?) lived with Julia. In Steamed Open, he’s living on the island, greeting guests, and conditioning them for treat donations from their meals. Where does Le Roi live? Isn’t he Julia’s cat?

Le Roi, who is named for his resemblance to the later, Vegas-era Elvis ‘the King’, starts out in book one, Clammed Up, being the cat of the caretaker and his wife who live on the island in the summer and on the mainland in the winter. When they’re unable to keep him that fall, in Fogged Inn, he goes home with Julia because her sister Livvie is pregnant and can’t take him. He always lives on the island in the summer, but his living arrangements in the winter vary. I just finished a novella that takes place in the fall after Steamed Open. In it, Le Roi is spending the off-season (very happily) at Julia’s mother’s house.

The Snowden mansion, Windsholme, and Herrickson House had the same designer, Henry Gilbert. Was he a real architect or did you make him up?

I made him up, though he was inspired by a real Maine architect. There will be more about him in book eight, Sealed Off.

Julia is a conscientious clambake manager, calling clammers every day to insure they have the needed supply for their meals. Is this due to how close the family came to bankruptcy or is this her nature?

It is her nature, but it also springs from necessity. They can store live lobsters in the cages under the dock on Morrow Island for a day or two, but basically fresh seafood has to be delivered to the island every day during the season.

On Hatteras, the National Park Service owns the beach so everyone has free access. I was appalled to learn that in Maine, homeowners own the beach to the LOW tide mark. What nonsense is the 1640 Colonial Ordinance that Maine still follows as set by the Massachusetts Bay Colony?

The issue of shoreline access in Maine has been much litigated—as it has in other places. The Ordinance of 1640 (think about how early that was!) gave rights to the low tide mark because the English hoped it would encourage the Colonists to build much-needed wharves. The law has fundamentally never changed, as often as it’s been challenged in court. It’s an issue because only twelve percent of Maine’s 5400-mile coastline is publicly owned. Because of our jagged coast and many islands, Maine has more ocean shoreline than any other state, even California.

Emmy Bailey is an employee of the Snowden’s helping with the meals on the island. I was a bit surprised she had no need to find the father of her child, Vanessa, no matter how inappropriate Julia’s boyfriend Chris was to ask about a DNA test for her. Wouldn’t a mother want at least financial support for her child?

I think after the one-night stand that resulted in Vanessa, Emmy wanted nothing to do with the man again, especially as he was quite clearly not father material. Sometime after Vanessa’s birth Emmy married the man who is emotionally and financially Vanessa’s father. They’ve fallen on hard times due to a job loss and separated before the start of book six, Stowed Away.

I was surprised to learn that Maine wasn’t a state until 1820. Why was that?

Maine started out as a colony of Massachusetts. If you think living in a colony is tough, try living in a colony of a colony. By the time the citizens of Maine elected to separate from Massachusetts and join the United States, there were twenty-two states, half slave and half free. Congressmen from slave-owning states would only support Maine becoming a state if a slave territory was also admitted, which was the Missouri territory, thus the Missouri Compromise. You see a similar dynamic playing out today when people talk about statehood for Washington, DC or Puerto Rico—not over the issue of slavery, but over the predominant political affiliation of the prospective state’s citizens.

Many of the characters had a happy-endings in Steamed Open. But for Julia, not so much. What’s next for her?

Such a good question! I don’t know, but I know I have at least two more books and one novella to figure it out.
Was this review helpful?
Steamed Open by Barbara Ross has readers journeying to Busman’s Harbor, Maine in the height of tourist season in the month of August.  Julia Snowden is on the Jacquie II with the rest of the town for Heloise (Lou) Herrickson’s memorial service and to scatter her ashes.  Lou’s heir, Bartholomew Frick arrives at the last minute is a fancy new red Porsche.  Bart inherited Herrickson Point along with a privately owned lighthouse.  The next day, everyone is shocked when they arrive at the beach access road to find a newly installed gate.  The clammers and lighthouse enthusiasts are particularly upset by this afront. Since Snowden Family Clambake relies on the clams that the clammers find on that beach, Julia decides to visit Bart Frick and see if she can get him to change his mind (maybe he is not aware of the problem he has caused).  Unfortunately, there is no reasoning with the rude man and Julia soon departs.  When Julia returns to the pier that evening, she is greeted by the local police.  Bart was found stabbed in his home with a clam rake and Julia was one of the last people to see him alive (besides the killer, of course).  When Lou’s former housekeeper, Ida Fischer ends up at the top of the suspect list, the Snugg sisters ask Julia to don her investigator’s cap once again (not that Julia needs an excuse).  Bart may not have been in town long, but he quickly managed to anger a significant number of people.  Julia wades through the suspect pool to identify Bart’s killer while manages the clambake business and discovering what is bothering her boyfriend, Chris.  

Steamed Open is the seventh A Maine Clambake Mystery.  It can be read alone if you have not read any of the previous books in the series.  I enjoyed Barbara Ross’ conversational writing style.  It makes for a light, airy cozy mystery that is easy to read.  We get to experience the day-to-day running of the Snowden Family Clambake with Julia and her family.  It is interesting to learn more about Maine and the clamming industry.  I enjoy the descriptions of the area especially the beautiful home the Snowden’s own on their island.  The mystery is uncomplicated, and the killer is easily identified (might as well have been a giant neon sign over the persons head flashing “killer”).  There are several viable suspects including a couple determined to visit as many lighthouses as they can (they are not going to let a gate stop them). I am glad that we learned more about Julia’s boyfriend, Chris in Steamed Open.  His story is heartbreaking.  I did find his obsession with Vanessa a little odd despite the explanation.  I hope that Chris will be more open to talking about the future with Julia now (he really needs to get counseling).  There is repetition of information that I could have done without and lack of details about characters (i.e.—Chris’ last name, Livvie’s last name).  Steamed Open is an upbeat cozy mystery that will have you yearning for warm days and sandy beaches with a cool drink nearby.
Was this review helpful?
Welcome back to Busman's Harbor and the Snowden Family Clambake which is going full throttle as this book is right in the middle of the season for them. Julia finds herself involved in a murder investigation yet again after a longtime member of their community passes away and her heir ends up being found murdered. It was just Julia's luck that it happened directly after she went to try to talk some sense into the man after he put up a fence that blocked access to the beach. What follows is some great sleuthing that reveals some intriguing details that I would have never thought of. This is an extremely well written cozy mystery that will draw you in so well that you will wish you could go on the clambake too since it sounds so yummy as well as fun. Absolutely perfect for fans of the genre. I really liked it so I give it 4/5 stars.
Was this review helpful?
One of my favourite aspects of cozy mysteries is being an armchair traveler. While reading, I learn about local customs and color, geography, climate, foods, and all sorts of aspects of a particular location. I also devour any history included.  I enjoy reading about Maine and have for decades, so it was pure delight to read Barbara Ross' STEAMED OPEN, with its likable characters (and a few not so, of course), a murder with far too many possible suspects, beautiful antique homes, and of course, Clambakes. STEAMED OPEN is Maine Clambake Mystery #7, a series I definitely want to delve into.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed this cozy mystery. The characters are great and the mystery was surprising and ended in an unexpected way. I didn't know who the bad guy was until the reveal. I believe I would have enjoyed it even more had I already read the other books in the series, but I still was able to keep up.
Was this review helpful?
Steamed Open is a complicated mystery flavored with layers of history and complex family relationships. You can read this as a stand alone novel, but will find yourself wanting to know more about the main family, the quirky year round residents, and the fire that destroyed Windsholme, the mansion on Morrow Island. Dive in, knowing you will surface satisfied.

While there may be stories of ghosts circulating around lighthouses, someone very real and very angry murdered the mysterious heir to Herrickson House. Bart Frick had not been in the community long before he many many enemies. The search for his killer and for a new heir to this magnificent, yet odd, property will reveal deep secrets. Another secret, one very close and personal to our heroine, Julia, is also tangled up in the plot. She has been very patient with her live in boyfriend, but now his behavior borders on creepy. Can she save this relationship? Will her question asking put her own life in danger?

If this is the first book you have read in this series, or the seventh, you will not be disappointed or walk away hungry.
Was this review helpful?