"Delightful! A fun whodunit full of New England coastal charm and characters who feel like friends. Warm humor, a delectable plot, and clever sleuthing will keep you turning the pages." —Krista Davis, New York Times bestselling author of the Domestic Diva Mysteries
Winner of the Agatha Award for Best First Novel!
Welcome to the seaside hamlet of Mystic Bay, where the fish is always fresh, the folks are ever-friendly, and murder is on a roll. . .
Allie Larkin was living her dream as a ballet dancer when a bad fall put her out of business. Now she’s back home in Mystic Bay to heal a broken ankle while also helping her dear Aunt Gully get her Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack off the ground. Nothing would help Gully more than winning the local food festival’s Best Lobster Roll contest. The competition is sure to be killer—especially after one of the contest judges dies after eating a roll from one of Gully’s biggest rivals.
Soon, all eyes fall on Gully as the prime suspect. Allie may only have one good leg to stand on, but she’s not going to let her aunt go down for a crime she never could have cooked up. Can Allie, along with her devoted crew of friends, family, and customers, find a way to trap the killer and claw herself out of this hard-boiled murder case?
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"What could go wrong?" Aunt Gully said.
My sister, Lorel, shot me a look as we drove into Mystic Bay's historic district. Aunt Gully sat in the backseat cooing to the pot next to her as plumes of black smoke sputtered from her van's tailpipe.
What could go wrong? What hadn't already gone wrong? This morning we'd discovered Aunt Gully's van had a flat tire. After I'd put on the spare, she'd forgotten her lucky apron and we had to go back home for it. When we'd swung down to the dock behind her Lazy Mermaid lobster shack to pick up fresh lobsters, her supplier was late. We were seriously behind schedule.
Aunt Gully hadn't even mentioned the mysterious letters we'd received this week. Threatening, anonymous letters.
I rubbed a smudge of grease from my chin and willed my heart rate to slow.
Though our most important task today was to feed a grand total of four lobster rolls to the judges in the Mystic Bay Food Festival Best Lobster Roll contest, Aunt Gully insisted that we provide free samples for all festival visitors. Aunt Gully was a Larkin, an old New England family that hadn't exactly come over on the Mayflower — maybe one of the later ships — but she had the soul of an Italian mama who had to feed everyone. Everyone. That's why I struggled to find a comfortable position in the shotgun seat of her jam-packed little gray van, trying to keep stacks of paper plates, napkins, rolls, and ceramic mermaids and nautical flags (because our samples booth has to look nice) off the soft boot covering my almost-healed broken ankle.
I caught sight of my bleary blue eyes in the visor mirror and snapped it up. An early riser I am not. As a dancer with New England Ballet Theater, I'm used to working matinee and evening performances. Since I'd broken my ankle in a tumble down some stairs, I'd returned home to heal and help get Aunt Gully's new business running. Now I rose before dawn to do prep work at the Lazy Mermaid.
Why hadn't Aunt Gully opened a nightclub instead?
Aunt Gully hummed as Lorel drove at exactly the speed limit into town where red-white-and-blue bunting draped storefronts and sea captains' homes.
Every Memorial Day weekend, Mystic Bay hosted the food festival on the town green, one block from the harbor. Foodies jammed the narrow streets to sample the best New England cooking. That Aunt Gully, the new kid on the block, had been chosen to compete in the Best Lobster Roll competition was quite a coup.
Food prep took place in the kitchen of the Mystic Bay Congregational Church and in overflow tents on the green. At the church, Lorel eased the van past large television and news trucks. The largest had YUM NETWORK painted on the side, the letters formed by photos of happy people eating various delicious foods.
A food fest volunteer waved us into the lot behind the church. All the volunteers wore black T-shirts, making them easy to spot.
Lorel squeezed the van into the space between a Dumpster and an oversized food truck with KAHUNA'S blazed on the truck's side panel in neon orange over a swirling Hawaiian print.
"Ernie Moss went to Hawaii when he was in the navy and never got over it," Aunt Gully said. "Now where did I put my glasses?"
"Top of your head, Aunt Gully," Lorel and I chorused.
A surprisingly cool breeze carried the scent of salt water, baking — ah, cinnamon rolls — and coffee. I looped a soft lamb's wool scarf around my neck and carefully placed my walking boot on the pavement. A three-foot-tall lobster painted on the food truck loomed over me.
The lobster sported a black fedora and brandished a fork as if it were a tommy gun. HOME OF THE GOD LOBSTER. NEW ENGLAND'S BEST LOBSTER ROLL.
"We'll see about that," I said.
The side door of the van rumbled open.
"It would be great to get a food truck," Aunt Gully said as she unbuckled a large pot. The lobsters inside scraped their claws against its battered metal sides.
"One step at a time, Aunt Gully," Lorel said.
Aunt Gully dreamed big, and I loved her for it. My older sister, the MBA, was the practical one. The careful one.
The pretty one. While Lorel's auburn hair gleamed with gold highlights, mine was the deep red that came with freckles and sunburns.
Lorel slid her pricey sunglasses onto her golden, unfreckled nose. We wore matching pink Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack T-shirts, with strategically placed red clamshells on the chest — Aunt Gully's design. Lorel's was tucked into her khaki skirt. Mine was somewhat less visible, tucked into my faded jeans and topped with my scarf. The back of our tees read NO FUSS FINE FOOD.
Aunt Gully's Lazy Mermaid lobster rolls were New England traditional all the way. Fresh-as-could-be lobster, piled high in a buttery toasted roll topped with Aunt Gully's secret-recipe lobster sauce. That's it. It's almost too simple, but the flavor is sublime.
A crew of food fest volunteers pushed a cart toward us. We unpacked the van and rolled toward the large white tent on the green. Aunt Gully hugged us and hurried to join the other contestants in the church kitchen. Lorel and I would supervise lobster roll and coleslaw samples for food festival visitors.
Lorel scanned the area. "I hope the lobster libbers aren't here," she whispered.
For the past week, letters signed "Lobster Liberation Group" had been pushed under the door at the Lazy Mermaid. Inside a plain white envelope was a short message typed on plain paper: "Save the lobsters! Close or else!" Aunt Gully had tossed the letters in the trash. "Silly practical jokes!"
I'd examined the envelope — I don't watch CSI for nothing — but there were no postmarks, helpful fingerprint smudges, bloodstains, or distinctive handwriting. Plain paper. Plain envelope. No clues.
But why was it so hard to forget those stupid letters? Were they from someone we knew? Someone out there didn't like us, or at the very least, got a kick sending threatening letters. Aunt Gully didn't want to report the letters, but I was determined to find out who sent them.
Still, I tried to channel some of Aunt Gully's calm. "Lorel, you worry too much."
We went into high gear, unpacking dozens of rolls, made mini-sized for the lobster roll samples we'd handout to hundreds of hungry foodies. We'd also brought Aunt Gully's tangy secret-recipe coleslaw to go alongside.
"Allie, do you think we should be with Aunt Gully?" Lorel twisted her hands, a sure sign she was nervous.
"You know how she is." I shouldered a bag of decorations for our free-samples booth. "She's in her happy place with her lobsters."
Aunt Gully loved lobsters. She said they made the ultimate sacrifice for our happiness and that we had to treat them with respect. Aunt Gully went a few steps beyond respect with her lobsters, but that was fine with me. In the rest of her life, she was a normal person. Well, fairly normal.
"Winning this competition would raise the profile of the Lazy Mermaid beyond anything else we could do," Lorel said.
We hurried to the free-samples-booth area on the green. The green sat right at the top of Harbor Street, overlooking dozens of touristy shops that, I had to admit, oozed charm. Trees were in bright green leaf, the hard winter forgotten in the sparkling spring day.
Still, my stomach knotted as I worked and greeted passersby. Could one of these smiling people be the anonymous letter writer? Would Aunt Gully win? Aunt Gully's lobster rolls were the very essence of New England traditional cooking, but what if the judges didn't like them? I shook my head. Preshow jitters were normal. I coped with stage fright before every performance. Every dancer learns to use adrenaline to their advantage when the curtain rises.
My nerves settled as Lorel and I chatted with the group from the Happy Farmer Organic Farm in the next booth. Friends and neighbors stopped by to wish us luck.
A woman with long white-blond hair picked up a mermaid bobblehead and held it at arm's length. "Ha! Your aunt is so cute."
"Hello, Finella." Inside I seethed. Finella Farraday owned She Sells Chic, a pricey resort wear and gift shop right across from the green. She was Aunt Gully's archenemy. Well, that's how I thought of her. Finella had wanted to open an outlet in the building that became the Lazy Mermaid lobster shack, but Aunt Gully'd prevailed despite some shady real estate maneuvers on Finella's part.
"Those T-shirts." She looked me up and down over her Chanel sunglasses. "Cute." Her pursed lips said otherwise. She set the bobblehead down as if it were radioactive. "Here to help your aunt win the contest?"
"I'd do anything to help Aunt Gully." As I said the words, I felt nothing could be more true.
It had been only nine months since Aunt Gully's husband, Uncle Rocco, passed away and she'd thrown herself into opening the Lazy Mermaid. People smarter than I am probably saw that opening the restaurant was her coping mechanism, a place to pour all the energy she'd put into her loving marriage. Still, she'd made so many changes so fast. She'd left her longtime job as a cook at the elementary school to take a chance on this business.
"Ta." Finella waved a red-tipped hand and left. Lorel and I shared a look.
"You can always count on Finella to spread good cheer," I said.
Lorel laughed and her shoulders relaxed.
"Let's see how Aunt Gully's doing. We'll just peek," she said.
"Let's just finish up with the mermaid stuff."
We set out Aunt Gully's "mermaidabilia," a collection of ceramic mermaids, seashells, and fishnet tchotchkes that would give our booth Aunt Gully's signature boatyard-meets-yard-sale look.
Then we hurried past the broad white pillars into the church, showing our badges to volunteers at the door.
"Since when is there all this security at the food festival?" I said.
"With all the celebrities they have to do it." Lorel nodded at a rotund man wearing a lobster-print tie. "Look, there's Keats Packer."
"Mayor Packer's hardly a celebrity." He walked over to us, shaking hands and slapping backs as he went. Mayor Packer was always in election mode.
"Hey, if it isn't the lazy mermaids." Keats Packer chuckled, his blue eyes crinkling. He was a cheerful supporter of local businesses, especially restaurants. Though we'd been open only a couple of months, he'd become a regular at the Lazy Mermaid.
"Morning, Allie. You visiting from Boston, Lorelei?"
Lorel reddened. She hated her given name, preferring to go by the more professional-sounding Lorel. I grinned as she gritted her teeth in a smile. "Here to help, Mr. Packer."
"I haven't eaten since yesterday." Packer patted his stomach. "Had to make room for all the goodies I'm going to try today. Let me tell you, I'm delighted two of the four finalists for best lobster roll are from right here in Mystic Bay and beat out dozens of other lobster shacks to do it."
A guy in a navy blue blazer pushed past us. "Mayor, can we get a few words about the festival? By the monument on the green?"
"Happy to, Leo. Meet you in five. Say, have you met the Larkin sisters? Girls, this is Leo Rodriguez, my favorite reporter." Packer beamed as we greeted Leo. "May the best lobster roll win." He winked, then moved into the crowded hall.
I'd recognized Leo Rodriguez from the television that was always on in Aunt Gully's kitchen. Leo was tall, dark, and handsome — and knew it. He flashed a grin. "Mermaids. Cute clams. Here for the competition?"
I stiffened at his condescending tone. Lorel put a hand on my shoulder.
"Absolutely! I'm Lorel. We're with the Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack." She handed him a business card. "Please stop by. My aunt would love to meet you."
"The new place on Pearl? Right at the piers?" Leo tucked the card in his pocket.
"Fresh lobster delivered all day long." I jumped in with Aunt Gully's sales pitch.
"Hey, would you two be willing to do an interview later?"
"With Aunt Gully, of course." Lorel smiled.
"Of course." Leo grinned.
I didn't think they were talking about lobster rolls anymore.
Leo turned to me. "Wait a sec. You're Allegra the dancer, right? Got injured, now works in the lobster shack?"
"That's me, but you can call me Allie." I waved at my walking boot. "Almost healed, but I have to be careful, do my PT."
"I'd love to do a story on you, too," Leo said.
The local papers had already written up my Tale of Woe. The headlines read "Spunky Ballerina Doesn't Let Injury Stop Her" and "Pirouettes to Pier."
I caught Lorel's look. "Maybe."
He handed his business card to Lorel. "See you later."
"Later," Lorel said.
Leo's gaze lingered on Lorel a moment longer, then he jogged after the mayor.
"Lorel, how can you flirt with that guy? He's so smarmy."
"Allie, publicity's all a game. Just play the game and stop being such a serious artiste all the time."
"Serious?" I waved at my T-shirt. "I'm a woman wearing a clamshell bikini T-shirt. How is that serious?"
Lorel sighed. "I'm going to talk to Aunt Gully about these T-shirts."
Having security at the festival made sense for the celebrities, but I couldn't believe the long line waiting to flash their badges to enter the kitchen wing of the church.
I had no intention of waiting in line.
Since I'd been a bridesmaid at Elodie Daggett's wedding here last summer, I knew there was a back stairwell that led down to the kitchen. Lorel and I tiptoed through the hushed church nave. Well, she tiptoed, and I clomped as quietly as I could in my walking boot. Sunlight streamed through tall windows onto a half-dozen people seated in the 150-year-old gated wooden pews. We crept through a door behind the pulpit and down a tightly turning iron staircase to the lower level of the building.
We emerged into a hallway full of cables and wires that was evidently a celebrity-free zone. Several kids nearly collided with us as they pushed past a volunteer wearing a Red Sox cap, their shouts ringing as they banged through the door to the playground. No one checked badges there. Perhaps the organizers hadn't known about this entry.
I pulled open the door to the church kitchen, but the sound inside made me slam the door shut. "Good grief. She's singing."
Over the general kitchen hubbub of running water and clanging pot lids, through the closed door, a voice screeched. Not just any voice. Aunt Gully's.
If you heard Aunt Gully sing, you wouldn't wonder where she got her nickname. Aunt Gully has a voice like a seagull, sharp and squawking, capable of setting off a shiver like nails on a chalkboard. And she likes to sing while she cooks.
"God help us," Lorel whispered.
We pulled open the door a crack. The sound blasted into the hallway. Two little boys covered their ears and ran out the playground door.
Lorel and I winced as Aunt Gully hit, well, missed a high note. She was singing "her" song, "You Are My Lucky Star" from Singin' in the Rain. Despite Aunt Gully's treatment, it's a charming melody. I couldn't help but hum and sway along until my ankle reminded me that it had been broken in two places and those two places hadn't completely healed yet.
Inside the kitchen, cameramen prowled as the four chefs prepared their lobster rolls, but as Aunt Gully sang, all eyes and cameras swung to her. Ernie Moss, in his gaudy Kahuna's Hawaiian shirt, had frozen in the act of tasting a scoop of his famous lobster salad. Volunteers laughed and raised their cell phones to record Aunt Gully serenading her lobsters as she put them into a large pot.
"That's their favorite song," she explained to a cameraman.
"Let's get out of here." Lorel inched away from the door.
"I thought you wanted to help her," I said.
"She needs more help than we can give."
Lorel hadn't spent as much time with Aunt Gully as I had since Uncle Rocco died. Aunt Gully knew exactly what she was doing. Aunt Gully was a ham. She knew her off-key singing would make for good television. A tiny flicker of hope glowed inside me. I hummed "Lucky Star" as I shouldered my way through the laughing crowd near the door, feeling more excited than I had since Aunt Gully announced she'd won an entry into the contest. Maybe the best New England lobster roll would win after all.
* * *
A large section of the green had been roped off around the stage for the Best Lobster Roll judging. Lorel and I flashed our badges again and took seats three rows back from the front row, which was reserved for the contestants. My seat was on the aisle near the church building.
The faultless blue sky promised good weather. A YUM-TV banner rippled across the stage behind a table with four seats. Huge screens flanked the stage. Red-white-and-blue bunting hung, well, everywhere. Cameras on a platform at the back of the crowd stood ready to catch the action.
Patriotic music wafted in the air as a group from Mystic Bay High School played Sousa marches from the bandstand.
"Gorgeous day," Lorel said, tilting her chin and closing her eyes.
Excerpted from "Curses, Boiled Again!"
Copyright © 2018 Shari Randall.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
AudioBook Review: Stars: Overall 3 Narration 3 Story 3 A debut cozy set in the small town of Mystic Bay on the Connecticut shore, Allie Larkin is back in town and working with her Aunt Gully in her newly opened Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack. Allie is not actually interested in crime or cooking, she’s a ballet dancer but that is on hold while she heals an ankle, and what better way to regroup and recover than with your family and childhood friends, and pitching in to help with her aunt’s big day – the “Best Lobster Roll” contest surely won’t be too difficult. But when Gully is suspected of causing the death of one of the judges as her rival’s lobster roll managed to kill them, Allie is determined to get answers to her questions and prove that her aunt isn’t capable of, nor did she poison the judge. Twists and turns, and one fanatic out to save the lobsters from the pot all mix together solidly in this plot: while development of the characters is a bit thin on the ground, and no one actually stands out as a ‘star’ that I needed to know more about, the setting, the interactions and even the twists were cleverly plotted and presented with enough information to keep readers (and listeners) engaged. A solid introduction to the series, sure to make you long for sea air, lobster rolls and that peculiar ‘feel’ of the New England coast, without overworking any of the moments. There are some fairly typical ‘small town’ types, some even hit that rather odd blend of polite yet removed that is common in the area, and enough red herrings require some attention to ferret out the miscreant and solve the mystery, all while providing a story that felt plausible and was engaging. I’m curious about the next book, and that’s always a good thing! Narration for this story is provided by Tiffany Morgan, and her voice is pleasant, if she seems overly concerned with enunciating every single word, making the narration feel very much like a ‘kid in class’ reading at the teacher’s direction. There are some odd pauses, hesitations for commas, between sentences, and even when there is an obvious “air quote moment”. A bit flat emotionally, with subtle variations in tone that are meant to convey moments or phrases that are ‘important’, without actually adding emotion or auditory layers to the text. It was a performance that felt very ‘new to the game’, and while there was nothing dramatically outrageous to dislike, there also was nothing that particularly allowed me to love the performance. I received an AudioBook copy of the title from Tantor Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
This story pulls you in quickly! You feel as if you know the characters and the setting very well and can then follow the fun plot with just enough challenges to it. I love mysteries but don't read cozies very often; however, this one involved me to the point that I finished it in record time. It's a well balanced story in every way and great for all mystery lovers. Excited to see the next book in the series this summer!
Curses, Boiled Again! Is the debut book in the Lobster Shack Mystery series. This mystery series is set in the idyllic seaside community of Mystic Bay. We are introduced to Allie Larkin, a ballerina, who has returned to Mystic Bay to heal after breaking her ankle. Her quirky Aunt Gully has opened a Lobster Shack and has been invited to participate in the local Lobster Roll contest during the Memorial Day festivities. It seems to be a great way to get recognition for the new restaurant and Allie eagerly agrees to help out. However, the Mystic Bay culinary scene is more dangerous than one would expect. Threatening letters are sent and judges are poisoned. Allie’s concern for her aunt compels her to get to the bottom of these unusual and dangerous events. The book moves along nicely. There are clues and plot turns. Some of the characters are quite quirky and endearing. This is a solid debut to a new series!
I really enjoyed this first-in-series set in a small, seaside town in New England. The characters are all likeable in their way, yet each has their own strengths to add to the story: Allie, a smart ballerina taking a break from her career to heal from an injury and help her aunt; Lorel, Allie's sister and a practical businesswoman; and Aunt Gully, kindhearted owner of the Lazy Mermaid, a lobster shack. When the judges of a lobster roll contest get poisoned and one of them dies, Allie ends up investigating to help clear her aunt's name and her own name. The plot moves at the perfect pace, with plenty of twists and turns. I was surprised by the ending. While the mysteries in the book were solved, I was still left wanting more of the town and the characters, so I'm looking forward to the second book in the series!
I really enjoyed reading this cozy mystery. Mystic Falls is hosting a lobster roll contest to kick off the summer season and YUM network is broadcasting the show. Allie and her Sister are helping her Aunt Gully at the Lazy Mermaid prepare for the contest and summer tourists. Everything is fine until the celebrity judges fall sick after eating a lobster roll. When suspicion falls on Aunt Gully Allie sets out to solve the crime. I really enjoyed the characters and the small town setting. The mystery was very good with lots of suspects, red herrings and twists and turns. The solution was good and made sense. The book was a quick, easy and fun read. It was a perfect summer book. I am looking for word to reading the next one in the series. Enjoy
A wonderful new cozy series! You will laugh out loud and love the characters between the covers of this book. Aunt Gully is participating in a local lobster cooking contest and one of the judges meets her demise in a very public fashion. This book will have you guessing who is responsible for the death of the judge until the very end. I can't wait to read the next entry in this new to me series!
Allie Larkin, a ballet dancer who has broken her ankle, has returned to Mystic Bay, Connecticut to recover. Her Aunt Gully, recently widowed, has opened The Mermaid Lobster Shack. She was selected to participate in the Memorial Day Lobster Roll competition. When the judges are poisoned with the first contestant’s entry, Aunt Gully becomes a suspect as she was alone with the food. One of the judges dies so it becomes a murder investigation. Allie begins to investigate to not only help Aunt Gully, but to find out who was responsible for all the nefarious goings on in Mystic Bay. As this is the first in a new series, we meet the main characters in Mystic Bay. Allie seems to be trying to keep busy while recuperating, however does not seem to worry as much about her ankle as you would expect a dedicated ballerina would. She is smart and persistent as well as being helpful and loyal. She is also well liked by those in the town. Aunt Gully is wonderful. She was funny, bright and the typical quirky matriarch in a small town. She wants to take care of everyone and always thinks the best of them all. It looks like Allie has a love interest that may blossom in the next book. Lorel, Allie’s sister is the brains and serious one in the family. She does whatever she can to promote Aunt Gully’s restaurant. The other characters in town are all introduced and I hope we get to know them more in future books. Overall, the quirkiness is there with all these characters. The setting is wonderful and I wanted to take a trip to the next Lobster Festival and enjoy the ambiance of this small seaside town. The plot moved smoothly and I read this one quite quickly. I enjoyed the story and the mystery. I did not figure out who the murderer was until just before the reveal as the story came together. I am looking forward to giving the next book in this series a try. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.
Curses, Boiled Again! is the first in the series, A Lobster Shack Mystery, and the first book that I have read by Shari Randall but I plan to check into other books that she has written. This is a great cozy mystery that starts off with a food fest to determine who has the best lobster rolls in the Northeast. The contest takes place in Mystic Bay and includes contestants from two local lobster shacks and a contestant from a lobster shack in Maine and one in Massachusetts. The contest ended quickly when the judges got sick, with one judge, actress Contessa Wells, dying from what was later determined was a poison. One of the contestants is Aunt Gully, owner of the fairly new Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack, and is one of the suspects of the poisoning. Her two nieces are there to help her through the situation. Gully's niece, Allie Larkin, a dancer sidelined by an broken ankle, is home from Boston while she recuperates and is helping with the restaurant. Her sister, Lorel, is an attorney, also living in Boston. She returns on the weekends to help. Allie's friend, Verity, gets involved with Allie and her task to prove Aunt Gully's innocence. There are plenty of people to investigate as there are many undercurrents going on between other contestants and friction with other townspeople. A side issue is going on between the other local lobster shack owners of Kahuna's and the owner of the shack in Massachusetts that a twist that I didn't see coming. This story has many twists and turns that had me guessing up until the end and ended with a big surprise killer that I never had suspected. This is a great story that I recommend for anyone that likes cozy mysteries. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
No Curses in this Debut I’ve been looking forward to Curses, Boiled Again! for almost two years now. You see, I met author Shari Randall when I attended my first Malice Domestic in 2016 when she was working on it, so I’ve been following the book’s journey to publication. Naturally, I was thrilled when I was offered an ARC of the book. Our main character here is Allie Larkin, who is taking a sabbatical from her dream of being a dancer thanks to a fall and a broken ankle. While she is home in Mystic Bay, Connecticut, healing, she is helping her aunt Gully in her new business, The Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack. While Aunt Gully has only had it opened a few months, it’s already gathered national attention, and Aunt Gully has been chosen to be part of the YUM! Network’s lobster roll competition. The competition is happening Memorial Day weekend, the start of tourist season in Mystic Bay, and corresponding with a food festival in town. That means the event is well attended. However, things go badly almost right away when the judges react negatively to the lobster rolls from Ernie Moss, Aunt Gully’s chief competition in town. Then they start dropping over and have to be rushed to the hospital. Did someone poison the lobster rolls? Allie will have to do some fast dancing to find out and save her aunt’s reputation. The book opens the morning of the festival, so we are thrust into the action right away. I did feel the plot stalled out a little in the second quarter, but we were gathering some information without us or Allie realizing it. There are a variety of suspects, motives, and even potential targets that keep us guessing until the very end. I had a strong suspicion what was going on, but I wasn’t completely sure until Allie put it all together for us. The characters are off to a strong start in this debut. There is room for them to grow as the series progresses, but I felt we got to know Allie, Aunt Gully, and a few others. I’m not completely certain who will be series regulars yet, although I have a feeling quite a few of the characters we meet here could pop in for a scene or two in future books. I certainly wouldn’t complain if that were the case. And the suspects? They were strong enough to keep my guessing who was really behind everything happening in Mystic Bay. Since this was a culinary themed cozy, I was expecting a recipe or two in the back, but I guess Aunt Gully wants to keep her secret recipes confidential. Not that I mind too much since I only ever drool over these recipes; I haven’t made one in years. Curses, Boiled Again! gets the new Lobster Shack mystery series off to a fun start. You’ll gobble this one down and be ready to visit Mystic Bay again soon for seconds. NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.
I looked at this Title and knew I had to read it. Come on, who wouldn't smile? The Lobster on the Front just added more humor as did the almost 1950's illustration look to the Cover. This is a well- plotted book with a few twists easily finished in one night. Aunt Gully, Owner of the Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack, entered a contest with her famous lobster roll. The Contest is televised and has footage. Along with three other entrants she watches in horror as the Judges show all the symptoms of poison. Each of the four Restaurant Finalists are under suspicion until the Police can find the guilty party. How much competition and jealousy among the Finalists I will leave you to read and enjoy. Because the plot builds a first- class, cozy mystery. The actual Detective work will be done by Allie, one of Gully's nieces, along with her Sister Lorelei. Oops, she prefers to be called Lorel. But I don't want to forget Allie's best friend, Verity, who runs a vintage clothing store with an eye for couture and drives a 1962 DeSoto with fins. Mystery fans will like the twists in the plot and the warmth of the background. I mean how do you beat the Ocean for scenery? The driving question throughout the plot... would they overcome the rumors of food poisoning? Would they find the Lobster Libber? Yes, this has one and a lot of other surprises going on. Allie will have to find the key to it all and Readers will delightedly follow right along beside her. My thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press
Curses, Boiled Again by Shari Randall is the first in a new cozy series and was quite an intriguing beginning to this series. Allie Larkin, a ballerina who has broken her ankle, has returned to Mystic Bay to help her Aunt Gully while healing. Aunt Gully has been entered into a Lobster Roll contest put on by a YUM, a food network. Allie and Aunt Gully hopes that this will put her new lobster shack, the Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack, on the map for foodies and tourists alike. However, before the competition even begins Aunt Gully receives threatening letters from "lobster liberators". Then at the contest one of the judges dies due to poisoning. Allie's concern for her aunt compels her to investigate on her own. A smoothly paced plot with some twists, red herrings, quirky but lovable characters, and the reveal twist made this a memorable cozy mystery. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book from St. Martin's via NetGalley. All of the above opinions are my own.
Delectable beginning to the new Lobster Shack series! Protagonist Allie Larkin is a ballerina with a broken ankle. While recuperating, she heads home to help her vivacious Aunt Gully at her Lazy Mermaid Lobster shack in lovely Mystic Bay. It’s Memorial Day festivities time, and during a best lobster roll contest which Aunt Gully hopes to win, all the judges are poisoned and one of them succumbs. The plot includes lots of excitement which keeps the story moving swiftly. I enjoyed the cast of colorful characters. There are numerous diversions to lead readers to falsely suspect many different people; however, collect all the right clues and they’ll lead you to the vengeful killer
This was a really interesting and exciting start to what I hope is a long lasting series. It takes place in Connecticut in a fictional town called Mystic Bay. Allie and her sister Lorel are helping their Aunt Gully (real name Gina but everyone calls her Gully, possibly for how her singing sounds lol) get her lobster restaurant, the Lazy Mermaid underway. Mystic Bay's annual Food Festival is going on and chaos breaks out when the four judges end up with extreme cases of food poisoning after sampling a lobster roll from another local shop. One of the judges ends up dead. The state detective seems to be trying to accuse the man from the shop where the lobster roll came from but Allie just knows he's innocent. Along with her friend Verity, they go on a sometimes comical adventure of sleuthing. I really enjoyed all the different characters in this book! There were quite a few but it really wasn't hard to remember the main ones and those that mattered the most to the story. Allie was a typical dancer, always on the move, although carefully and awkwardly since she's trying to heal from a broken ankle. Her older sister Lorel is a little uptight and seems to be only concerned with social media for the restaurant and things of business. But in the end, they both adore their Aunt Gully and family does come first. Aunt Gully was such a fun character! She was loving, always needing to take care of people no matter what. Allie's good friend Verity was a good comic relief sometimes. I had part of the mystery right but had no idea why. There was also a little side mystery that tied in with the killing but I didn't have that figured out. I never do get the reasoning right even if I guess so it was a fun little journey reading those last several chapters, not really able to put the book down (that was hard to do at any point!). Allie ends up reinjuring her ankle but for a great cause. You'll just have to read it and find out! I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance copy of this book provided by NetGalley and the publisher.