Summer has come to Busman's Harbor, Maine, and tourists are lining up for a taste of authentic New England seafood, courtesy of the Snowden Family Clambake Company. But there's something sinister on the boil this season. A killer has crashed a wedding party, adding mystery to the menu at the worst possible moment...
-Book jacket teaser on “Clammed Up,” Kensington Publishing, 2013
A former Southport store and its late elderly cook, the footbridge, and a local island clambake business are just three of the familiar local “landmarks” fictionalized by author Barbara Ross in her book, “Clammed Up,” the first of her Maine Clambake Mysteries series. “Clammed Up,” a 375-page paperback, was released September 3.
Ross lives with her husband, Bill, in a former bed and breakfast with a great view of Boothbay Harbor's footbridge during the summer and in Somerville, Mass. in the winter. This is her second book. Her first mystery novel, “The Death of an Ambitious Woman,” was published by Five Star/Gale/Cengage in August, 2010. She has also written several short stories for mystery anthologies.
Ross is no newcomer to writing or to book publishing, however.
“I've always written, even as a young child,” said Ross during this interview done on her front porch on a beautiful, sunny day in August. “I write about what I read and I like to read about crime and mysteries.” One of her favorite authors is P.D. James.
Ross began “Clammed Up” in February 2012, after her agent sold the three-book series to Kensington.
“It was a bit difficult writing a summer book in the height of winter, but it got done,” Ross said. During her research for the book, she talked with Boothbay Harbor Police Chief Bob Hasch about how a small town police force might deal with a murder. She credited Hasch for the information in the book's acknowledgments.
“She told me she was writing a book about a fictional murder and I gave her some of the police procedure, not all of it,” Hasch said. “She was very nice.”
Ross also includes a fictional Gus Pratt, the late proprietor of Pratt's Store, in “Clammed Up.”
“My mother-in-law, Olga Carito, took my husband and I, and my accountant to Gus's one day for lunch and he actually was a bit taken aback by the strangers coming to his establishment (a characterization of the fictional Gus), but my mother-in-law gave him a big hug and everything turned out fine.”
“Clammed Up” is about a murder that takes place on an island where summer clambakes are served. Julie Snowden, the daughter of the late owner of the business, has come home to keep the business going after her father's death. After the murder takes place, the story of how Snowden battles the bank from foreclosing on the business and how she works with police to solve the murder unfolds.
The book is available locally at Sherman's Bookstore. It is also being sold at Amazon.com in paperback and eBook form.
“Boiled Over,” the second book in Ross' Maine Clambake Mystery series, which was due to her editor the first of September, takes places during Founders’ Weekend in the fictional Busman’s Harbor.
“Founders Weekend is not unlike Windjammer Days, only the festival is new to the town. A clambake is held on the mainland and a body is discovered in the clambake fire,” Ross said.
Ross's third book in the series, “Musseled Out,” will be due next September.
About Barbara Ross
-Graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Wyoming Seminary Preparatory School.
-Co-editor and co-publisher of Level Best Books, which publishes an anthology of crime and mystery stories by New England authors each fall.
-2012 President of Sisters in Crime New England.
-2013 co-chair of The New England Crime Bake.