Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Complex mystery; fun characters
Cons: Pace slows down a little at one point
The Bottom Line:
Poisoned lobster rolls
Multiple targets, motives
Make complex debut
No Curses in this Debut
I’ve been looking forward to Curses, Boiled Again! for almost two years now. You see, I met author Shari Randall when I attended my first Malice Domestic in 2016 when she was working on it, so I’ve been following the book’s journey to publication. Naturally, I was thrilled when I was offered an ARC of the book.
Our main character here is Allie Larkin, who is taking a sabbatical from her dream of being a dancer thanks to a fall and a broken ankle. While she is home in Mystic Bay, Connecticut, healing, she is helping her aunt Gully in her new business, The Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack. While Aunt Gully has only had it opened a few months, it’s already gathered national attention, and Aunt Gully has been chosen to be part of the YUM! Network’s lobster roll competition.
The competition is happening Memorial Day weekend, the start of tourist season in Mystic Bay, and corresponding with a food festival in town. That means the event is well attended. However, things go badly almost right away when the judges react negatively to the lobster rolls from Ernie Moss, Aunt Gully’s chief competition in town. Then they start dropping over and have to be rushed to the hospital. Did someone poison the lobster rolls? Allie will have to do some fast dancing to find out and save her aunt’s reputation.
The book opens the morning of the festival, so we are thrust into the action right away. I did feel the plot stalled out a little in the second quarter, but we were gathering some information without us or Allie realizing it. There are a variety of suspects, motives, and even potential targets that keep us guessing until the very end. I had a strong suspicion what was going on, but I wasn’t completely sure until Allie put it all together for us.
The characters are off to a strong start in this debut. There is room for them to grow as the series progresses, but I felt we got to know Allie, Aunt Gully, and a few others. I’m not completely certain who will be series regulars yet, although I have a feeling quite a few of the characters we meet here could pop in for a scene or two in future books. I certainly wouldn’t complain if that were the case. And the suspects? They were strong enough to keep my guessing who was really behind everything happening in Mystic Bay.
Since this was a culinary themed cozy, I was expecting a recipe or two in the back, but I guess Aunt Gully wants to keep her secret recipes confidential. Not that I mind too much since I only ever drool over these recipes; I haven’t made one in years.
Curses, Boiled Again! gets the new Lobster Shack mystery series off to a fun start. You’ll gobble this one down and be ready to visit Mystic Bay again soon for seconds.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.