Hems and Homicide
By Elizabeth Penney
Apron Shop #1
St. Martin’s, 2019
Welcome to the first in the Apron Shop mystery series by Elizabeth Penney, set in the quaint village of Blueberry Cove, Maine where an expert seamstress turned amateur sleuth is getting measured for murder. . .
Iris Buckley is sew ready for a change. After the death of her beloved grandfather, Iris decides to stay in her Maine hometown to help out her widowed grandmother, Anne—and bring her online hand-made apron designs to real-time retail life. Her and Anne’s shop, Ruffles & Bows, is set to include all the latest and vintage linen fashions, a studio for sewing groups and classes, and a friendly orange cat. The only thing that they were not planning to have on the property? A skeleton in the basement
Anne recognizes the remains of an old friend, and when a second body shows up in the apron shop—this time their corrupt landlord, whom Anne had been feuding with for decades—she becomes a prime suspect. Now, it’s up to Iris to help clear her name. Enlisting the help of her old high-school crush Ian Stewart who, like certain fabrics, has only gotten better-looking with age and her plucky BFF Madison Morris, Iris must piece together an investigation to find out who the real killer is. . .and find a way to keep her brand-new business from being scrapped in the process.
I enjoyed Hems & Homicide so much and am glad to start on the ground floor of what promises to be a highly entertaining new series. The illness of her grandfather brings Iris back to her hometown of Blueberry Cove, Maine, and she stays on after his death to open a shop with her grandmother, Anne. Hems & Homicide has that perfect blend of appealing setting, vocational theme, engaging characters, and well-crafted storyline. From beginning to end, I thoroughly enjoyed this story and look forward to future releases in the series.
Iris and Anne are easily relatable characters and I love the close relationship between these two. I’m always drawn to books with New England settings and relished the vividly conveyed images of the coastal town of Blueberry Cove and its quaint stores. A shop featuring Iris’s homemade apron and other linen designs is refreshing and stands out in the field of cozy mysteries. I loved how the close-knit community and the Ruffles & Bows shop are woven throughout the story.
The mystery itself is well developed and complex. And there’s two mystery themes actually– a cold case from 1972 of Annie’s friend, Star Moonshine, and the present-day murder of their landlord, Elliot Parker. But are they connected? Of course, they are, and discovering how steadily propels the action. Star’s skeleton is uncovered as the clean up and remodeling begins in the new shop, and a scarf triggers Anne’s recognition of Anne. An old photo is later found, one that features Star, Anne, and others still living in the community. This story especially resonated with me because the hippie movement was a big part of the culture that I experienced as a young adult.
I especially appreciated that Hems and Homicide is completely clean, no profanity or graphic scenes. A great read for all who enjoy cozy mysteries.
I received a copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Elizabeth Penney is an author, entrepreneur, and local food advocate living in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. In addition to writing full-time, she operates a small farm. Elements that often appear in her novels include vintage summer cottages, past/present mysteries, and the arts. She is represented by the fabulous Elizabeth Bewley at Sterling Lord Literistic.
Elizabeth’s writing credits include over twenty mysteries, short stories, and hundreds of business articles. A former consultant and nonprofit executive, she holds a BS and an MBA. She’s also written screenplays with her musician husband.
She loves walking in the woods, kayaking on quiet ponds, trying new recipes, and feeding family and friends.