Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Book Review: Shucked Apart by Barbara Ross (Maine Clambake Mysteries #9)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Characters, plot
Cons: Some supporting characters don’t get much page time
The Bottom Line:
Nearby oyster farms
Give Julia more danger
In focused entry

Hunting for the Oyster Seed Thief

One thing that I enjoy about Barbara Ross’s Maine Clambake Mysteries is the look at various industries in Maine.  We get another one of those in Shucked Apart.  As you might guess, this mystery takes us into the world of oyster farming, which provides a wonder backdrop to this mystery.

May for Julia Snowden means trying to get the Snowden Family Clambake ready for the summer season.  There are plenty of tasks to do, but she is interrupted when her boyfriend, Chris, asks her to help his friend, Andie Greatorex.  Andie is an oyster farmer on the nearby Damariscotta River, and someone just stole her latest purchase of oyster seed.  These baby oysters are worth $35,000, so it is a significant loss.  Andie is more concerned about the feeling she has that this is personal, designed to intimidate her.  Yet Andie is reluctant to give any suspects that Julia could question.

Given that, it isn’t any surprise that Julia hasn’t made much progress when she stumbles on a dead body.  With the stakes raised, can she figure out what is happening?  Or is the murder unrelated to the robbery?

Now, if some of details that I mentioned about oyster farming are confusing to you, don’t worry, we get a crash course in what it takes to raise oysters near the beginning of the book.  Yet, what makes this book so great is that these scenes don’t slow down the story.  Julia is gaining information for the case at the same time.  The pace is steady from the beginning and increases as we draw closer to the climax.  When Julia figures things out, all our questions are answered.

This series tends to be on the slimmer side length wise, and this book is no exception.  The mystery itself doesn’t suffer, but it does mean that we don’t see a few of the series regulars, or they just have brief cameos.  I’ll definitely say I missed them.  I sub-plot that included them would have been nice.

But here’s the thing, it wasn’t needed.  The main mystery is compelling enough to keep us engaged, and we do get some updates on some of the characters who are in the book.  There are some minor spoilers for things that have happened in the past, so I do recommend reading the series in order, although you shouldn’t be too lost if you jumped in here.

It certainly helps that the characters we meet here are wonderful.  They are fully formed and help make us care about the outcome of the mystery, which is no surprise to fans of the series.

As always, we get recipes to end the book.  There are five this time, and two fit the oyster themed.  For those of us who aren’t fans of seafood, we get a delicious sounding banana bread recipe.

I’m always reluctant to leave Julia behind when I reach the end of a book, and Shucked Apart is no exception.  Fans will be left satisfied but wanting to know what happens next to their favorite characters.

 Here are the rest of the Maine Clambake Mysteries in order.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.


  1. Loved this book and the whole Maine Clambake series! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mark!

  2. Great review, Mark. Thanks for a reminder about a fun and well-written series. Barbara Ross shows how cozy writing should be done.


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