- Title: Murder at the Lobstah Shack
- Author: Maddie Day
- Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
- Release Date: 11/30/21
- Genre: Cozy Mystery
- Age Range: Adult
- Rating: ★★
- Publisher’s Summary: When murder turns out to be the special of the day at her friend’s seafood restaurant, bicycle shop owner Mackenzie “Mac” Almeida and her fellow book club sleuths have to net a killer…From clam chowdahs to oysters on the half-shell, Tulia Peters’ Lobstah Shack offers locals and tourists in Westham, Massachusetts, some of Cape Cod’s most amazing cuisine. But when the body of Annette DiCicero is discovered in the kitchen’s walk-in freezer—with a custom-made claw-handled lobster pick lodged in her neck—spoiled appetites are the least of Tulia’s worries. After a heated public argument with Annette, Tulia is a person of interest in the police’s homicide investigation. To clear Tulia’s name, Mac and the Cozy Capers Book Group snoop into Annette’s personal life. Between her temperamental husband, his shady business partner, and two women tied to Annette’s past life as “Miss New Bedford”, there are now several suspects and multiple motives. And they’re getting crabby about Mac intruding on their affairs…
As someone who spent years living in New England, I was immediately taken by the title Murder at the Lobstah Shack. The “ah” at the end of the title gives it so much character, and anyone who follows my blog knows how much I love books that surround food. I have rarely clicked “Request” on NetGalley so fast.
Murder at the Lobstah Shack has many of the things I’ve grown to love about Cozy Mysteries: small town that sees a surprising number of murders and an amateur sleuth and recipes at the back of the book. However, it felt lacking in the quirky charm of many of my favorite mystery series.
I wanted to like Mac, but I didn’t find her to be a likeable character. There are several moments in the book where she comes off as thoughtless and focused on the wrong thing.
I’d also barely thought about my grandmother, now in the ER, while I talked in the Lobstah Shack. What was wrong with me?
While I’m glad Mac realizes that she should have been focused on her sick grandmother rather than talking to her friend, I found comments like this offputting. There are also a few moments where Mac admires her new engagement when it seems like she should be focused on more serious things going on around her (like a murder investigation).
There were also a few moments in the book where they mention the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is brushed past very quickly. This gives the impression that the characters didn’t see this pandemic as a big deal, which I found problematic.
“Remember during that virus crisis?” Gin asked. “We had to talk about the books on a video call.”
While it is lucky none of the townspeople in Westham died of COVID, this felt like a callous thing to say about a virus that has killed over six hundred thousand Americans to date.
The writing style in Murder at the Lobstah Shack involves a lot of telling rather than showing. At a town meeting, Mac thinks
I found the business mind numbingly boring, but the town needed to conduct it. My mind had been more on murder than motions anyway. By now my not-so-padded rear end already ached from the ridiculously outdated wooden folding chairs we were all obliged to sit on. I’d noticed the knitter in front of me had brought her own seat cushion. Smart move.
While this does paint a picture of what this town meeting is like, I wanted the writing to tell me how boring it was rather than show me. I also appreciate when authors provide detailed description that moves the plot forward, which didn’t feel like the case here.
Murder at the Lobstah Shack did make me want to immediately head to a beach in New England to eat fresh seafood. The description of lobster rolls made with “crusty sub rulls” and “rich mayonaissey lobster mix” had me drooling even though it is not the most vivid of writing.
Murder at the Lobstah Shack satistified my craving for a cozy murder mystery, but I don’t think I’m going to be returning to Westham again anytime soon.