A costly necklace and a feuding family make for a murderous reunion in New England.
In the tourist season, Julia Snowden runs the Snowden Family Clambake in little Busman’s Harbor, Maine. In the midst of a February snowstorm, she doesn’t have a single customer for her winter restaurant. Instead, she collects her mother’s mail, including an uninsured package with no return address. Inside is a showy necklace with an unsigned note, “For Windsholme.” The Black Widow, as Julia’s mother, Jacqueline, calls the necklace, is a family heirloom that had been missing for almost 100 years. Its central stone is a huge black diamond that boosts its total value to perhaps $2 million, more than enough to repair Windsholme, the run-down, vacant, and partially burned mansion on Morrow Island, Jacqueline’s family seat, which she now owns. Jacqueline was close to one other family member, her cousin Hugh, who used to spend summers on the island before he disappeared from it on the night of Jacqueline’s 21st birthday party. At the local historical society, Julia finds out that the source of the Morrow fortune was ice, the purest of which was called black ice—as is the central diamond in the long-lost necklace, now in the safe deposit box in Jacqueline’s bank. Further discoveries about Julia’s intricate family tree, relatives she didn’t know she had, and the rift between two branches of the family, along with the bar code that shows where the necklace was shipped from, send Julia to Boston to meet her newfound relatives. Alas, she’s too late for one of them, whose death might well have been hastened, but just in time to become a target for the next murder.
Ross (Fogged Inn, 2016, etc.) knows her Maine coast and her snowstorms. Both provide an atmospheric backdrop for a cozy that, though a little heavy on genealogy, picks up its pace when its focus returns to the living and the newly dead.