Book Review: Clam Wake by Mary Daheim—and a Giveaway!

Clam WakeClam Wake
A Bed-and-Breakfast Mystery
Mary Daheim
William Morrow, August 2014
ISBN 978-0-06-231772-8Hardcover

From the publisher—

With the holidays gone and Hillside Manor almost empty, Innkeeper Judith McMonigle Flynn has a bad case of the blues. A housesitting stint at her aunt and uncle’s retirement home on Whoopee Island with cousin Renie seems like the ideal pick-me-up. Surrounded by retirees in the off-season sounds peaceful and pleasant–or so the duo thinks. But it isn’t long before a dead body pops up in their vicinity. Not surprising in an area full of older folks—until they learn it wasn’t a bad ticker that did in the victim, but a very sharp knife. With clouds of suspicion hovering over her and Renie, Judith reluctantly begins sleuthing—if only to prove they didn’t commit the crime.

But what she finds is puzzling. The victim reputedly didn’t have an enemy in the world–except for the killer. Digging for clams and answers, the cousins discover that retirement can be deadly—at least among the eclectic, eccentric residents of Obsession Shores.

It’s kind of mindboggling that this series has lasted so long (#29!) but even more so that it has held up pretty darn well. It follows the tried and true formula of amateur sleuth continually coming across bodies and feeling that she simply must solve the crime but, somehow, author Mary Daheim manages to keep things fresh.

Innkeeper Judith and her cousin, Renie—a truly obnoxious individual but one who sort of fits like an old glove—have been left behind by their vacationing men so Judith has left the bed & breakfast in capable hands and they’ve gone off to housesit for Auntie Vance and Uncle Vince on Whoopee Island. The two will be proxies at a community meeting about installing sewer lines but, lo and behold, within hours of arriving, Judith and Renie have discovered a body. Naturally, sleuthing ensues. Is the battle over sewer lines versus septic tanks really that desperate? What did this poor guy do to deserve being offed? And does Judith’s family history have something to do with all this?

Clam Wake is fun, no doubt about it and, although it may not be the very best in the series, I found a lot of comfort in returning to the Pacific Northwest and spending a little time with Judith, Renie and assorted family, friends and pets, especially Judith’s cantankerous mother, Gert, and equally crabby cat, Sweetums. I missed Joe and Bill, though, and hope to see the husbands again in Ms. Daheim’s next book.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2014.


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About the Author


Mary DaheimSeattle native Mary Richardson Daheim lives three miles from the house where she was raised. From her dining nook she can see the maple tree in front of her childhood home. Mary isn’t one for change when it comes to geography. Upon getting her journalism degree from the University of Washington (she can see the campus from the dining nook, too), she went to work for a newspaper in Anacortes WA. Then, after her marriage to David Daheim, his first college teaching post was in Port Angeles where she became a reporter for the local daily. Both tours of small-town duty gave her the background for the Alpine/Emma Lord series. Mary spent much of her non-fiction career in public relations (some would say PR is fiction, too). But ever since she learned how to read and write, Mary wanted to tell stories that could be put between book covers (e-readers were far into the future and if she hadn’t seen her daughter’s iPad, she might not know they exist). Thus, she began her publishing career with the first of seven historical romances before switching to mysteries in 1991. If Mary could do the math, she’d know how many books she’s published. Since she can’t, she estimates the total is at least 55. Or something. At the time of her husband and mentor’s death in February 2010, David and Mary had been married for over 43 years. They have three daughters, Barbara, Katherine and Magdalen, and two granddaughters, Maisy and Clara. They all live in Seattle, too. Those apples don’t move far from the tree…literally.


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Follow the tour here.


Leave a comment below and you might win a
print copy of Clam Wake by Mary Daheim!

The winning name will be drawn
on Sunday evening, August 24th, and the
book will be sent out at the end of the tour.
This drawing is open to residents of the US.


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19 thoughts on “Book Review: Clam Wake by Mary Daheim—and a Giveaway!

  1. I completely agree with you that it’s hard to keep a series fresh and interesting after just 6-7 books let alone 29! A change of venue always helps and seems to work here very well.


  2. Hard to keep a series fresh after a few books. I commend you for being able to do that with so many. This one looks like another “must read.” A small aside, my great great grandfather was the first mayor of Anacortes. I took my mother up there a number of years ago to ride in their centennial parade. Saw his top hat, cape and safe but no one wanted to talk much about him. Have strong feeling he was something of a rogue.


  3. Sounds like a good read, thanks for all the information on the book – even if I don’t win it’s going on my too-read list!


  4. Wow! What an amazing career you’ve had! Congratulations on the mind-boggling feat of having 55 published books. My brain freezes up just thinking about coming with that many new plots and murders. My hat’s off to Mary. Seattle must have great mojo!


  5. I just LOVE these kinds of books — mysteries about bed & breakfasts. I have several that I’ve read in the past by different authors and this one sounds great! I hope I win it!


  6. I love a new cozy mystery and have heard good things about this author. Would love to start her series! And the cover art is quirky and cute. That’s something else I love about cozies, the covers and the titles.


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