Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Wonderful plot with characters you care for
The Bottom Line:
Necklace in the mail
Brings up questions from the past
Family Secrets and Mysteries
I hate winter. There is a reason I live in Southern California, after all. But I’m perfectly okay with reading a book set in winter, which is a good thing because Iced Under takes us to Busman’s Harbor, Maine, in the middle of a cold February.
This is the fifth in the Maine Clambake series. Obviously, the clambake run by Julia Snowden and her family isn’t open for business. In fact, anyone who could get out of town for warmer climates has, including Julia’s boyfriend Chris. But that doesn’t mean Julia can’t find a good mystery to solve.
Actually, this one finds her when her mother, Jaqueline, receives a mysterious package in the mail. Inside is a necklace with a large black diamond surrounded by many smaller diamonds. Jaqueline recognizes it as a family heirloom she’s heard of but never seen since it vanished in the 1920’s. But where did it come from? The package has no return address and a blurred postmark.
Jaqueline’s mother died when she was a toddler, so she doesn’t know much about her family history. What little she does know, like the story of the necklace, came from her cousin Hugh, who vanished on Jaqueline’s 21st birthday and has been presumed dead for forty years. Intrigued by the necklace and the idea that there might be more family out there, Julia begins to investigate. What will she uncover?
The plot of this book doesn’t feel like a normal cozy. In fact, I couldn’t help but compare it to a Nancy Drew storyline. Yes, there is a murder before we reach the end of the book, but if you sit down expecting a normal cozy plot, you will be sorely disappointed.
Don’t let that stop you at all, however. What we do get is a very well done mystery that kept me turning pages. When Julia does uncover an answer, it only leads to more questions. There are some interesting twists and turns before we reach an ultimately satisfying climax. In fact, I was glad I finished the book on my couch at home instead of the break room at work since I couldn’t stop the tears in the last couple of chapters. (I was crying in a good way, trust me.)
I love this series because I love the characters. We get to see most of the regulars, some in just cameo appearances, but the book is also filled with new characters. They were all fantastic and add so much to the book that I didn’t miss seeing as much of the regulars as we normally might. In fact, if some of these characters pop up again in future books, I wouldn’t complain at all.
I mentioned the winter setting of the book earlier on purpose. Winter and cold infuse this book. I could feel the ice and snow when Julia was outside, and it really added to the feel of the book. It made me want to snuggle under a blanket and keep reading, which I did, reading just about half of it in one day.
The emphasis in the recipes at the end of the book is on comfort food this time around. We get such tempting sounding dishes as beef stew, meat loaf, lasagna, and ginger snaps. And yes, if you want sea food, there are recipes for lobster fra diavolo and monkfish marsala as well.
Because of the way this story fills in background on Julia’s family, I recommend it more for people who are already fans of the series since they will best appreciate all that is happening here. However, this is one of my favorite series, so I have no doubt that if you have yet to start the series, you will soon find yourself caught up and racing through the pages of this book.
And if you are already a fan, pick up Iced Under. Time spent with Julia is always wonderful, and this book is no exception at all.
Looking for more? Here are the Maine Clambake Mysteries in order.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.