By Barbara Ross
Long-time Busman’s Harbor resident Heloise (Lou) Herrickson has died at the ripe old age of 101, and all the residents in this scenic Maine coastal town are mourning her passing, particularly her devoted housekeeper, Ida Fischer. Lou’s heir, Bartholomew Frick, wastes no time in alienating most of Busman’s Harbor citizens when he announces that the beach behind Herrickson House, which had always been open, will now be closed and has a fence installed around the property to keep the locals out.
The loss of access to the beach will have a devastating effect on the local economy, as so many businesses depend on a regular supply of local clams for their menu. Chief among these is the Snowden Family Clambake, which only operates during the warm weather months, ferrying visitors to Morrow Island for an authentic Maine clambake. Julia Snowden is worried that her business may not survive the summer season, and decides to approach Frick to reason with him. When she arrives at Herrickson House, many local clammers are protesting the restriction and tempers are running high. Unfortunately, the authorities determine that Frick has every right to put up the fence, and as the crowd disperses, it’s clear that not everybody agrees.
Undaunted, Julia still is intent on talking to Frick, and discovers a way to approach the house. Before she can get close, she encounters Ida storming out, saying Frick is impossible and she has quit. Of course, when Julia finally talks to Frick, he refuses to change his mind.
It doesn’t take long for someone to decide to eliminate Frick permanently in a violent way, and Julia is the last person to see him alive. Except for the murderer, of course. Suspicion immediately falls on Ida. Julia doesn’t believe she’s the guilty one, and sets out to prove it.
“Steamed Open” is the seventh in Barbara Ross’s Maine Clambake Mystery series. Each one is even better than the previous. I loved it!