BOOK SPOTLIGHT + GUEST POST: Hems & Homicide by Elizabeth Penney (Cozy Mystery)

An Apron Shop Mystery #1
Elizabeth Penney

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Date of Publication: December 31, 2019
Number of Pages: 288

Scroll down for the giveaway!

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.

For the Love of Aprons

One question I’m getting quite frequently as a mystery author is, how did you decide upon the theme for your series? Cozy mystery series are defined by their theme, whether cat, culinary, or crafting, some popular examples. My theme is aprons. Specifically, Iris Buckley, my protagonist, sells vintage aprons in her own shop, Ruffles & Bows, located on the quaint Main Street of Blueberry Cove, Maine. Sometimes she also sews original designs she dreams up. Lately she’s been getting a lot of requests for the pinafore aprons she wears as a shop uniform (like the one on the cover of HEMS AND HOMICIDE). 
Back to the question. For a while, I’ve been noticing that aprons are enjoying a surge in popularity. Coming across a cute ruffled pinafore in the aisles of a Walmart store really brought it home for me. If big box stores are carrying aprons, then they are definitely in the mainstream again. To me, this was a good indication that the idea of an apron shop might work as a cozy mystery series. With so many great cozies already in print, it can be difficult to find a new theme that is relatable plus broad enough to carry a series. 
Probably like many of you, I have apron memories from childhood. My English mother always wore one while cooking or cleaning. She was also a seamstress and she whipped up “pinnies” for us to wear at meals. At the time, it was another of what I regarded as her eccentricities, since none of my schoolmates certainly ever donned anything as dorky as an apron. Now I wish I had a few of the lovely ones she made for me.  
Aprons are rich with associations in American culture, shorthand for the comforts of home life and domesticity. Think of the gray-haired grandmother in Norman Rockwell’s famous Thanksgiving painting. She’s wearing an apron. June Cleaver wore them in the iconic television show, Leave it to Beaver. Beyond being an attractive accessory, aprons were a practical choice in past decades. Women didn’t have the number of outfits we do, for one thing, and doing laundry was much more difficult, for another. Aprons protected the “good” clothes from spots and stains. 
As I began to study apron history more closely, which required looking at hundreds of beautiful examples, I gained a new appreciation for them. As clothing styles changed, especially during the twentieth century, so did apron styles and shapes. Since many are handmade, they reflect the fabric choices and tastes of the woman who stitched them. They might be made of cotton, gingham, organza, feed sacks, or linen. Adorned with lace and ruffles, embroidered, or trimmed with braid, bobbles, and appliqué. Aprons were made for all occasions and seasons. Well used and well loved, they were a fun and relatively inexpensive way to brighten up the daily grind. 
As an author, I’ve found that aprons spark many plot ideas. As Iris seeks out interesting inventory for her shop, she stumbles across mysteries both past and present, often tied together by the strings and stories of a very special apron.  
Do you have any special aprons or apron memories? I’d love to hear about them.

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.

In regards to the author’s question in her quest post, here is a picture of my earliest memory with an apron.

I was about 4 and spending time with my grandmother in her kitchen, cleaning up after we had made something tasty. While aprons have not been a mainstay in my kitchen now, I can always remember my grandmother having one on and helping me into one to be just like her.

Let us know some of your memories in the comments below!

Many thanks again to Great Escapes Book Blog Tours and the author! It was a pleasure hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions!

January 13 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
January 13 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
January 13 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW
January 13 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT
January 13 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW
January 14 – The Power of Words – REVIEW
January 14 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
January 14 – Sneaky the Library Cat’s Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
January 14 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
January 14 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT
January 15 – eBook Addicts – REVIEW
January 15 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT
January 15 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
January 15 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT
January 15 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW
January 16 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
January 16 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW
January 16 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW
January 16 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW  
January 16 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
January 17 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
January 17 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW
January 17 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
January 17 – TBR Book Blog – REVIEW
January 17 – That’s What She’s Reading – GUEST POST
January 18 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW
January 18 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW
January 18 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT
January 18 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW
January 19 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW
January 19 – Lisa Ks Book Review – REVIEW
January 19 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW
January 19 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

1 thought on “BOOK SPOTLIGHT + GUEST POST: Hems & Homicide by Elizabeth Penney (Cozy Mystery)”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.