I’ve had a week off for holidays, which has taken me to the Northumberland coast. Not wanting to re-read Anne Cleeves’ Vera novels, I’ve gone further afield, to Maine, for my holiday reading. I tracked down one of the Agatha Award finalists, “Fogged Inn”, by Barbara Ross. It’s the fourth in the Maine Clambake series published by Kensington, and something of a guilty pleasure. The mass-market American cozy isn’t widely available in the UK, but I have a now-not-very-secret liking for the cheerful covers and a sense that this is pulp fiction for our age. The more shocking stories are mainstream, and the professionally written but produced to a rapid schedule cozy mysteries are now somehow less worthy.
If there’s one thing that’s likely to make me a read a ton of these, it’s the thought that I’m not supposed to… “Fogged Inn” is set in the small Maine town of Busman’s Harbour, and Julia Snowden goes downstairs one morning to discover that someone has stashed a corpse in the catering refrigerator at the restaurant where she works. Needless to say, the kitchen is declared a crime scene and closed for business.
The corpse is a stranger, but in a small closely-knit town, it’s only a matter of time before someone will work out who he is, and what his links to Busman’s Harbour are. Julia’s an energetic sleuth, and this mystery is full of regular people trying to make a living in the off-season of a small tourist town. An enjoyable setting, with a hardworking heroine, and recipes too. Mug of cocoa and tartan rug time.