Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am happy to share my thoughts with you today about
Hidden Beneath by Barbara Ross.
Hidden Beneath (A Maine Clambake Mystery)
11th in Series
Setting – Maine
Kensington Cozies (June 27, 2023)
Mass Market Paperback : 272 pages
ISBN-10 : 1496735714
ISBN-13 : 978-1496735713
Kindle ASIN : B0BGYV3W33
Serving up mouthwatering shellfish, the Snowden Family Clambake has become a beloved institution in Busman’s Harbor, Maine. But when new clues rise to the surface five years after the disappearance of Julia Snowden’s mother’s friend, the family business shifts to sleuthing . . .
Julia and her mother, Jacqueline, have come to the exclusive summer colony of Chipmunk Island to attend a memorial service for Jacqueline’s old friend Ginny, who’s been officially declared dead half a decade after she went out for her daily swim in the harbor and was never seen again. But something seems fishy at the service—especially with the ladies of the Wednesday Club. As Julia and Jacqueline begin looking into Ginny’s cold case, a present-day murder stirs the pot, and mother and daughter must dive into the deep end to get to the bottom of both mysteries . . .
We are back in Busman’s Harbor, Maine where the Snowden Family Clambake on Morrow Island is a must-attend event when visiting the area. Julia and her mother Jaqueline have become summer residents of the island after a huge renovation of the mansion. It now has so many new possibilities for the family business.
Another island nearby is Chipmuck Island. A place where Jacqueline spent a lot of time with her friend Ginny while was growing up. Ginny still summered there but with the clambake and her family Jacqueline and Ginny lost touch. Five years ago, Ginny went out for her daily swim in the harbor but never returned. A body was never found and now after all this time, Ginny has been declared dead. The summer residents of Chipmuck Island are having a memorial service for her and Jacqueline has asked Julia to go with her.
The event was led by the women of the Wednesday Club, a group Ginny belonged to, but something about the whole service felt off to Jacqueline and Ginny’s house was wrong too. Walls had been painted and furnishings had been moved. Julia and her mom start investigating Ginny’s case and asking a lot of questions. When another resident of Chipmuck Island is murdered they turn up the heat on their investigation to find the truth before anyone else ends up dead.
I love returning to Busman’s Harbor with each new installment of this series. It is as if you can just pull up a chair on the beach and relax and enjoy whatever Julia and her family get involved in. With this 11th story, I need to plant me and my chair on a different beach though and Jacqueline is playing a larger role. Both Julia and her mom are strong women with huge hearts and curious natures. Reconnecting with the Wednesday Club and introducing them to Julia set up this very interesting story. The author created a complicated group of women and we even get to know some of their families. It isn’t easy to add a big group like this for one book and give the characters enough depth to be more than just background characters but Ms. Ross did a wonderful job.
The mystery was unique. I loved the way Julia and her mom worked together. There is also a surprising caretaker of Chipmuck Island that helps with the case. And when Julia brings her theories to the police they know they better listen. With several twists and secrets revealed over the course of the book, it becomes very difficult to put the book down. I had some theories of my own but I soon saw I was on the wrong track and needed to just sit back and let Julia do the work. I was surprised by the way the story twisted for a big reveal and saddened too.
I enjoyed the varied subplots interwoven with the main plotline. They allowed readers to catch up with all the characters we have come to love. Jacqueline has another huge thing to deal with in addition to getting justice for her friend. Julia has an awakening of her own and another character has decided it is time to take their life in a new direction.
We learn in the acknowledgments that The Wednesday Club evolved from a group the author’s mother had belonged to since the 1960s that may still exist today. She has a treasure of her mom’s from her time in the group. The premise was fascinating but would be a little too intense for most women today. Give me a topic or a book and I am all up for a discussion but researching the topic in depth would not be my thing. Of course, I am all in on the eats, treats, and beverages served at the meetings.
Hidden Beneath was a marvelous read. A cast of characters that are like old friends and a top-notch mystery, set in a perfect summer place. I was totally entertained.
The author has whet my appetite for Book 12 with the final paragraphs of this book. Until my next visit to Busmaan’s Harbor . . . I hope we don’t have to wait too long.
Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent
Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries, including the Agatha-nominated Best Contemporary Novel Clammed Up, as well as Boiled Over, Musseled Out, Fogged Inn, Iced Under and Stowed Away. Steamed Open is the latest book in this series. Her story “Nogged Off” appears in the holiday novella collection Eggnog Murder along with stories by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis. Barbara blogs with the Wicked Cozy Authors and Maine Crime Writers. In the summer, she writes on her big front porch overlooking the water in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. You can visit her website at http://www.maineclambakemysteries.com
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”