Hems & Homicide (Apron Shop Series) by Elizabeth Penney
Hems & Homicide
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks (December 31, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
Digital ASIN: B07SBQ9Y2Z
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 basementAnne 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.
Excerpt- HEMS AND HOMICIDE – From Chapter 1
Bells jingled as I entered the Belgian Bean, a warm and cozy café filled with chatter and the aroma of fresh brewed coffee. The place was surprisingly busy for a cool spring morning in Blueberry Cove, Maine. Judging by the upscale outfits and unfamiliar faces, it appeared our coastal village was finally on the beaten track, even during the offseason.
My gaze skittered over the booths by the window, the line by the counter, and the tables in back. Where was Madison? Maybe I’d actually gotten here first, which would be a first—
An arm clad in fuchsia fleece shot up at the back table near the restrooms and I spotted my best friend, who was waving with a smile. Well, more like saluting wildly while bouncing up and down in her seat. But that was Madison Morris, always full of energy and enthusiasm, no matter how early the hour. Some people were morning people. Madison was one. I definitely was not.
Trying to suppress a yawn, I eyed the line of coffee carafes as I passed, tempted to pick one up and take it with me. Sophie Jacobs, another good friend and owner of the Bean, called from behind the counter, “Morning, Iris. I’ll be right with you.”
“Make it a double,” I called, grateful that fresh java would soon be on the way. Still smiling at Sophie, I edged around a chair blocking the aisle and accidentally kicked a customer’s leather messenger bag as a result.
A thin man with wire-rimmed glasses glared up at me before tugging the bag out of the way and stowing it under his chair.
“Sorry,” I said, but his attention was already on his tablet. He didn’t even glance at the Benedict Belgian he was shoveling into his mouth, a waffle topped with an egg, ham, and hollandaise sauce. Yum. Maybe I should order that.
“Can I help you?” he asked, jerking his head up again. His eyes were an icy gray, which suited his cropped dirty blond hair and light tan. Not bad looking if a little old for me, but he definitely had a stick up his—
“No, sorry. I was just…” I waved a hand and moved on, flushing at being caught checking out his meal, like some sort of culinary creeper. After skirting a group of lively older women wearing fisherman knit sweaters and Bean boots, I finally reached the sanctuary of Madison’s table.
“What was up with Mr. Prickly back there?” Madison picked up a huge mug, holding it in both hands. The bright jacket made her golden brown skin glow, as did the matching lipstick and nail polish she wore.
“I kicked his bag. Which I feel bad about, since it’s gorgeous.” I sank into the opposite chair, arranging my full skirt under my hips. I’d sewn the ‘50s-style dress myself, a deep periwinkle blue trimmed in white at the short sleeves and neckline and topped with a vintage apron. With my black hair, blue eyes and pale complexion, periwinkle was a go-to color for me. And mid-century garment styles flattered my curvy figure, which was more Marilyn than Audrey, as in Monroe and Hepburn.
Madison crooked an index finger. “Stand up again. Are you actually wearing an apron? I know you’re opening a shop but—”
“It’s a bit much?” I obeyed and stood, even holding the frothy confection out with my fingers, the better for my friend to study it. The women seated nearby turned to look, so I spun to face them and smiled before plopping back down.
“It’s the one we used for the shop logo,” I explained. “Grammie suggested we start wearing aprons as often as possible. Free advertising.”
My paternal grandmother, Anne Buckley, and I were partners in Ruffles & Bows, a new Main Street business slated to open on Memorial Day weekend. Over the past five years, I’d built up a quite a business selling aprons and linens online, both vintage and handmade originals. But now the local economy was booming, and it was time to take advantage with a storefront. Plus Grammie needed the distraction after losing her beloved husband Joe, my Papa, three months ago.
I crossed my fingers under the table, hoping our optimistic plans would pan out. Failure is not an option. My new favorite saying.
Returning home to the farm where her grandparents had raised her, Iris and her Grandmother, Anne, are preparing for the next phase of their lives. Together they plan to open a vintage apron shop. Iris has had online success with the store. Moving forward to a brick and mortar store begins with renovating an old building. From the start this plan has its flaws.
From poor wiring to finding a skeleton on the premises, to the appearance of a building inspector the very first day, how can this dream come to reality? Only through determination and grit of two feisty heroines and the help of friends.
The first crime, because it is obvious this victim did not hide herself behind a wall, is over 40 years old. It will expose secrets well kept these decades by the "love children" now in their senior years. Kept but not forgotten, with fingers reaching into present times.
A strong introduction to a community and the complicated relationships of Blueberry Cove.
About Elizabeth Penney
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.
Twitter: @liz2penney Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7877413.Elizabeth_Penney
Purchase Links - Amazon Barnes & Noble IndieBound
Have you signed up to be a Tour Host? Click Here Find Details and Sign Up Today!