Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong mystery, interesting characters
Cons: All cons shrouded in fog
The Bottom Line:
Dead body in frig
Opens page turning story
Another Page Turner
In the last couple of years, the Maine Clambake Mysteries has become one of my favorite series. The characters are wonderful and the mysteries keep me guessing until the end. Fogged Inn is the latest in the series, and it’s another strong book.
With winter fast approaching and the family clambake shut down for the season, Julia Snowden has opened Gus’s Too with her boyfriend Chris Durand. Gus’s Too is focusing on dinner, using the same building that Gus has used for his restaurant for years to serve only breakfast and lunch. Plus, Julia is living upstairs in a small studio apartment.
The Tuesday morning when this book opens, Julia is awakened by Gus yelling up the stairs that there is a body in the walk in refrigerator. The body hadn’t been there when Julia and Chris went to bed. Furthermore, he was a stranger in town who had eaten dinner at Gus’s Too the night before. With no ID on the body, the police don’t have anywhere to start to the investigation. Who was he? Why would someone kill him? And how did he wind up in the frig? Since it happened just downstairs from where Julia was sleeping, she is determined to find out.
I often complain here about books that start with an exciting scene and then flashback to something before that excitement happens and tells us the story from there. This book starts with finding the body on Tuesday morning, but things that happened in town and at Gus’s Too Monday night play a part in the book. We are fed this information in pieces, and it never slows down the forward progress of the story, which really does start on Tuesday morning. I loved how it was teased enough that when Julia was discussing what happened Monday night, we really wanted to know what happened, but it never slowed down the forward progress of the story.
Really, there is nothing to complain about with the plot at all. From the great start of finding the body, the pace never lags. We are constantly fed clues, red herrings, and surprises until we reach the climax. The ending is logical and sobering at the same time. It really does pack a punch, and in a great way.
Sadly, Julia’s family isn’t as big a part of this book as they’ve been of the previous books in the series. It makes sense since the action is taking place away from the family business, and including them would have just slowed things down. But I did still miss them. That’s really my only complaint with the book, and it’s a very very minor issue.
We meet quite an interesting cast of characters in this book, and they are all fully developed. I actually grew quite attached to them over the course of the story and wouldn’t complain if any of them popped in for cameos in future books. Of course, Julia, Chris, and Gus are still fun and entertaining characters as always; I enjoyed watching Julia and Chris’s relations grow yet again in this book.
As I was reading, I was impressed with the author’s ability to remind of us things that had happened in previous books without fully spoiling any of the twists and turns in Julia’s personal life. If you haven’t read the previous books in the series, you’ll have some big clues to what has happened by reading this book, but nothing is completely spelled out. Still, if you want to go in completely unspoiled, it is best to read the series in order. Once you start, you’ll want to read all of them anyway, so that’s not an issue at all.
Being a culinary mystery, we get several recipes at the end of the book. With the focus on the restaurant, we get a soup (split pea, of course) and several entrée type recipes. Yes, there are some fish, but for those of us who don’t like fish, there are some other great sounding choices as well.
This series just gets stronger with each book. Fogged Inn is the best one to date, and it will leave you anxious for your next chance to visit with Julia.
If you are missing any of these great books, here are the Maine Clambake Mysteries in order.
NOTE: I was sent an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.