Book Features

Sneak Peek of Steamed Open by Barbara Ross

When our dinner guests lumbered off the Jacquie II, a state trooper stood on the pier. Waiting for me.

This can’t be good.

“Ms. Snowden? Lieutenant Binder and Sergeant Flynn would like to speak to you at the police station.”

“Why? I haven’t done anything, I swear. Tell them I’ve been minding my own business. Seriously.”

I had been to see Bart Frick that morning about opening the beach, but that was a local matter. Why would the state police care? Why would anyone care about me visiting that awful man?

“Ms. Snowden, I’d rather not discuss this with you here. Let’s walk.” The pier was crowded, with our dinner guests and many others strolling back from restaurants, headed to bars, out for ice cream. People walked by, staring, stopping their conversations so they could overhear ours.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted Will Orsolini and his family at Small’s Ice Cream Shop on the corner where the road met the pier. It was almost ten o’clock. I would have thought it was late to have their little ones out.

Will’s wife Nikki had been in the same high school class as Livvie. She was tall and pleasantly round with long, dark hair that fell over her high forehead. Their children stair-stepped down in age—six, four, and the toddler in the stroller, sticky-faced with chocolate ice cream.

Will saw me and started to wave, but then spotted the state police officer beside me. Will lowered his hand, his brows creased, lips tight with concern. I gave a little wave, meant to signal, “Everything’s cool,” and kept walking.

I spotted a state police cruiser about thirty feet ahead, parked on the street at the top of the pier. “I’m not going in that.” I pointed to it.

“The police station’s a five-minute walk.”

“I’ll let Lieutenant Binder know you’re on your way.”

“Thank you.” I walked with him until we got to his cruiser. Then I split off and continued up Main Street, cut across the library lawn and then its parking lot, and arrived at Busman’s Harbor’s ugly, brick town-hall-firehouse-police-station complex.

Inside, the place buzzed with activity, so different from when I’d visited Jamie there that morning. The civilian receptionist wasn’t at her desk, her shift would have ended hours earlier. Instead, the same state trooper I’d left moments before sat in her chair. “I’ll tell them you’re here.”

I nodded.

He disappeared into the multi-purpose room the Major Crimes Unit used when they were in town. He was only gone a few seconds.

“They will see you now,” he said when he returned.

Lieutenant Binder rose from behind the folding table he used as a desk. “Hello, Julia.”

Sergeant Flynn stood by the opposite wall in the large room. He nodded an acknowledgment. One of the last times we’d seen one another, he’d told me he was in love with my friend Genevieve and had asked her to marry him. It was an unusual confidence. He’d barely tolerated my “help” with several of their cases up to that point. In turn, I’d told him about my love for Chris, and how it was tempered by a sense there were things about him I still didn’t know. Since Genevieve had declined Flynn’s proposal in order to work as a private chef on a yacht, I wondered if he felt awkward after our personal disclosures in the dark of night as we’d waited for a killer.

If Lieutenant Binder knew or sensed any of this, he ignored it. He gestured for me to sit in one of the two folding chairs in front of his table, chairs I knew from experience were impossible to get comfortable in. Flynn crossed the room and sat in the other.

“Why am I here?” I asked. “I swear, I haven’t done a thing.”

Binder allowed his mouth to curve into a smile under his ski-slope nose. Flynn remained stone-faced as usual. Binder glanced at his computer screen.

“We understand from Ms. Ida Fischer that you visited Bartholomew Frick this morning at his residence, Herrickson House.”

“I did,” I admitted.

“What time was that?” Binder continued.

“I got there around ten thirty. What is this about?”

Binder leaned back in his chair, the very picture of relaxed, casual conversation.

“We’ll get to that. How long were you with Mr. Frick?”

“About half an hour. Seriously, you two are freaking me out. Has something happened?”
Binder leaned forward, placing both elbows and forearms on his desk. “Mr. Frick is deceased.”

About the Book

Beachcombers, lighthouse buffs, and clammers are outraged after Frick puts up a gate in front of his newly inherited mansion. When Julia urges him to reconsider, she’s the last to see him alive—except the person who stabs him in the neck with a clam rake. As she pores through a long list of suspects, Julia meets disgruntled employees, rival heirs, and a pair of tourists determined to visit every lighthouse in America. They all have secrets, and Julia will have to work fast to expose the guilty party—or see this season’s clam harvest dry up for good.

Purchase at Amazon/B&N

About the Author

Barbara Ross is the author of six Maine Clambake Mysteries. The seventh, Steamed Open, will be published in December 2018. Her novella featuring Julia Snowden is included along with stories by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis in Eggnog Murder. A second anthology, Yule Log Murder, releases in October 2018.

Barbara’s books have been nominated for multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel, RT Books Reviewer’s Choice Awards, and the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction.

In the summer, Barbara writes on the front porch of the former Seafarer Inn overlooking the harbor in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

Barbara blogs with the Maine Crime Writers and the Wicked Authors.

Barbara’s first mystery novel, The Death of an Ambitious Woman, was published by Five Star/Gale/Cengage in August 2010.  In her former life, Barbara was a co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of two successful start-ups in educational technology. She lives in Portland, Maine.

Visit her at

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