Hems & Homicide

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Dec 2019

Member Reviews

Dollycas’s Thoughts

This was a delightful read!

Iris Buckley and her grandmother Anne are excited to be opening their new shop in Blueberry Cove, Maine, selling their hand made aprons and other vintage items. Ruffles & Bows is supposed to open Memorial Day but the building they are renting needs a lot of work before they can open the doors to customers.

Ready to jump right into the renovations they meet with their contractor and Iris’ old crush, Ian Stewart on-site to go over the plans. A trip to the basement leads to a gruesome discovery. A skeleton complete with a very identifiable headscarf. Anne thinks she knows the deceased, a friend she last saw over 40 years ago.

The police are working the case when another dead body is found in the shop. Their landlord is the new victim and he and Anne have been fighting over a piece of property for years.  With their history and the location of the body, she becomes the #1 suspect.

Not knowing if they will ever be able to open Ruffles & Bows Iris along with her friend Madison try to clear Anne’s name, no matter where the clues may lead. And they lead to some unusual places. . .


Reading this book and learning about Blueberry Cove and the future home of Ruffles & Bows reminded me so much of my hometown here in Wisconsin. Many years ago my parents had a dream to open their own business and from the hardwood floors, tin ceiling, plaster walls and old fixtures along with getting everything just right brought back many fond and humorous memories, complete with my own cobweb entanglement and fall, no skeleton for me though. Also before my accident, I loved to sew and I had a dream similar to Iris and Anne’s, to open a craft and fabric shop. Since that is no longer possible I read books like this one and revel in the characters’ success and adventures.

I really enjoyed meeting Anne (Grammie), Iris, Madison, Ian. They came across as very genuine. Anne is a new widow and has always been close to her granddaughter. It is such a wonderful thing that they are embarking on this new venture together. Madison and Iris are a great pair. They both push each other in different ways like true friends really do. Iris had a huge crush on Ian in high school and those feelings are still there. Madison also has someone interested in her. Miss Penney has created a terrific cast of core characters.

So with the skeleton and the dead landlord, there are two mysteries to solve. Are they connected? The author has plotted a very clever and complex plot full of twists including some scary and funny episodes that made this book absolutely impossible to put down. I really enjoyed learning about the 60’s history that Anne participated in. Pulling out her old journals and pictures brought reality to the story and fueled her memories. I was totally captivated.

Hems & Homicide was a story I hated to see end because I wasn’t ready to leave these characters behind. I am really looking forward to the next book in this series.

A Perfect Escape for Cozy Lovers!
Was this review helpful?
I can't believe I've never read anything by this author before, so I'm really glad I was able to read this book. When I looked at her bio page, I decided I'm going to have to check out some of the other cozies I saw there. This book was just awesome! The characters were a lot of fun, and I just loved Grammie, who was so young at heart that she liked hanging out with Iris and her friends. I don't think a girl could ask for better friends than Iris has. Madison was so funny and always up for adventure. Sophie and Bella were great too, both being business owners there in town. The girls' nights they had always sounded fun! Quincy was an awfully sweet cat--he seemed to love everyone and was there for comfort no matter who they were. Even the grumpiest person could find a little solace in good old Quince.

I loved that Iris refound her high school crush Ian, and it'll be sweet watching their relationship grow. The mystery was really good, a skeleton found in the basement where Iris and Grammie were opening an apron shop, and another current body. There were plenty of suspects and red herrings. I'd sort of guessed the killer but for the wrong person. The showdown was exciting, and I have to hand it to Iris for keeping her head during confrontations and thinking to phone police, do a recording or anything safe that sometimes other sleuths forget about.

It was great having a story wrapup too, all the pieces of the puzzle were explained and we even got more story too. I like when that happens and a story just doesn't end abruptly because the murder was explained. We got to finally see the shop's opening. And...there's even part of the first chapter of the next book which I can't wait for now that I've read the excerpt.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this via NetGalley, and my opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
After the death of her grandfather, Iris Buckley and her grandmother, Anne, decide to open an apron shop in the small town of Blueberry Cove, Maine called Ruffles & Bows. Iris already has an online apron design company and the shop will add even more business for them. As they work to set up their shop, they are more than a little stunned to discover a skeleton in their basement. They are even more stunned when Anne realizes it’s a friend from her past. When a second body turns up murdered in their new shop, Anne is the prime suspect, especially since she recently fought with the second victim.

The police close off access to the shop until the investigation is completed. With the cops looking to arrest her grandmother, Iris is intent to give them a few more suspects to divert their attention and let them get back to opening their new store. With the help of her best friend, Iris digs into the murders and realizes it goes much deeper than she expected.

This is the first book in the Apron Shop series and it’s off to a terrific start. The author gives us a wonderful cast of quirky and fun characters. I adored Iris, her grandmother and her friends right from the start. The rapport they all have with each other fits together perfectly. There’s even a hint of romance in the air to add to the mystery.  This story has all the ingredients I love about the cozy mystery genre - well-written cast, small town setting, mystery and just a touch of romance.

The plot itself is well written and well thought out. It is one big jigsaw puzzle. I fit it together all wrong…well, partially, but mostly wrong. LOL. It kept me on my toes until the end. I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series and another visit to Blueberry Cove, Maine.
Was this review helpful?
I loved Hems & Homicide! There are several things that drew me to the book and made me say yes to a review! First of all, that cover is adorable. Yes, I’m that type. I try not to judge a book by its cover, but a good cover does help! Second, I love starting book series with book one. Third, I was always very close to my grandma, so I can relate to Iris’s desire to stay with her.

I used to try to sew. I made some cute jumpers for my daughter when she was a toddler, but let’s face it…it’s cheaper to buy kids’ clothes than to make them. My how things have changed since the old days! Notice I said I “tried” to sew. I wasn’t very good at it, and I hated threading the machine! The bobbin always got messed up! So, the sewing theme didn’t draw me to the book. But, sometimes you’ve just got to step out of your comfort zone and read themed cozy mysteries that aren’t your forte.

Iris really does have a great job. If I were the sewing type, owning a shop like Ruffles & Bows with my grandma would be so much fun. She gets to buy and sell vintage aprons and other textiles. Sure, it’s a bummer that a skeleton turns up in the basement…And then someone’s got to go and get murdered in the store. Thankfully, with some smart sleuthing, both murders are solved, and the store will finally get to open…in the next book!

I really enjoyed the plot in Hems & Homicide. The characters are well-written, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they develop throughout the series. You will love the descriptive settings because they make it so easy to picture yourself watching the scenes unfold. Though I’m not huge on romance in cozy mystery books, it’s okay if they develop slowly over time and remain clean throughout. Otherwise, they feel like the same old same old romances that turn up in some series. I’m crossing my fingers for romances that remain friendships for at least a few books as well as hoping they don’t dominate the plot. So far, so good in Hems & Homicide!

I definitely recommend this to you cozy mystery readers! The Apron Shop Series is off to a great start!
Was this review helpful?
HEMS & HOMICIDE by Elizabeth Penney
The First Apron Shop Mystery

Iris Buckley's online store selling aprons and vintage linens has been a success. Now she's partnering with her grandma to open a brink and mortar store in Blueberry Cove, Maine. The two have their work cut out for them, for though their storefront has great bones, it's a bit decrepit. Still, they're not afraid of stained ceilings, creaky floors, and spiders. The skeleton in the basement, however, is another matter. Grammie believes the remains are those of her friend Star Moonshine, a young woman who disappeared in the early 1970s. News of the skeleton spreads quickly and Iris is soon receiving threats. Not one to back down she's determined to not only open her store, but discover just what happened to Star all those years ago.

The first Apron Shop Mystery introduces readers to Iris Buckley, a nice, somewhat klutzy and socially awkward woman with a penchant wearing for mid century modern clothing. She's also not afraid to stand up for herself and is willing to defend herself and her friends. Iris is surrounded by a cadre of good friends and her loving grandmother who make good compatriots in their first encounter with murder. Blueberry Cove, Maine, a small town on the rise, makes a charming setting and vivid descriptions make me want to visit.

I really like that the mystery starts with a cold case. The skeleton is easily identified, but no one knows her real name. I appreciate how Iris and her friends piece together the puzzle of who Star Moonshine really is with old memories, pictures, diaries, and research. And I love how that research led to a unique former commune with a Shakespearean theme and my favorite characters, Alfie, Trooper, and Bacon. I certainly hope we see more of them in future books!

With a multilayered plot and unique characters with flair HEMS & HOMICIDE makes a solid start to a new series.
Was this review helpful?
Hems and Homicide by Elizabeth Penney is an excellent start to a spectacular new series. 

Will Iris and Grammie open their new shop, or will Grammie be going to jail for a crime she didn't commit?

Iris is our sleuth and main character. She and Grammie are opening a shop in town called Ruffles & Bows. Iris is a former textile designer for a home goods store, who moved home when her grandfather was sick. She has a good online store, but since the tourist traffic in town is picking up, they decided to open a storefront. Iris and Madison, her best friend, won't let two deaths stop the opening of the store. They will figure out who did it, but are the two deaths connected?

Iris has a great group of friends that have all come back to their home town. I like that Iris and her friends include Grammie in their get-togethers. Also, she helps around the farm and isn't afraid to dress the way she wants. I like her fashion style. 

Grammie is Iris' grandmother; she an intricate part of the sleuthing as she is one of the few people left from those crazy 70s when everything was much more straightforward. She opens her past and finds photos and her diary, where she wrote down everything that happened back then. Grammie even identified one of the bodies before anyone else could do it. She is still mourning the loss of her husband but tries to stay positive and see the best in people, but Grammie is also smart enough to know when to call an attorney.  

I like the relationship that Iris and Grammie have. The way they work as a team, lean on each other, and are still individuals. 

The Mystery
The mystery is two-part with two crimes committed years apart. The hard part is trying to decide if the two are connected and who could have committed both crimes. I like the way that Iris and Madison go to the library to find clues in the microfilm. But my favorite part is where they find Alfie, Trooper, and Bacon at the deserted treehouse. The clues are there to follow, but there are many red herrings, I got part of the mystery but missed the other. 

Five Stars
I adore Hems and Homicide by Elizabeth Penney, and therefore, I am rating it at five stars. The characters were intriguing and realistic. This story makes me want to visit Maine even more than before. I highly recommend this book. So, if you are a cozy lover, then this is one for you. 

I can't wait for the next one that will be released on August 25th, 2020.

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy from the Great Escapes Book Tours. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Thank you for dropping by! I hope you enjoyed this review of Hems and Homicide by Elizabeth Penney.

This Guest Review is for Baroness' Book Trove.

Until the next time,

If you would like to see other reviews like this one, check out BaronessBookTrove.com.
Was this review helpful?
Phew! I wasn't sure at first if an apron based Cozy would work - how wrong I was! This is a page turner and a half with one heck of a twist at the end!

Iris Buckley was brought up by her Grammie and Papa (her Grandfather) after the untimely death of her parents when she was a pre-teen, she ended up leaving Blueberry Cove for college and then work but when her company downsized at the same time as her Papa had a serious heart attack it seems she was fated to come back.  She had set up an on-line store selling  vintage and reproduction linens so she was able to keep money coming in, after her Papa died though she and Grammie (Anne) decided they would also open a real life - on the high street shop! They have managed to rent a prime spot, mainly because it needs a LOT of work to bring it up to a decent standard, but on their first day in there checking what needs to be done Iris manages to stumble across a skeleton in the basement .... a skeleton her Grammie thinks she recognises.

So the shop has to be put on hold whilst the local and State forces do their thing, the problem is the day they are cleared to go back in Grammie comes across another corpse, and there is no way this one is a cold case.  Now with the State Police looking at Grammie as suspect #1 Iris and her bestie Madison need to track their way through the past as it seems the cold case is linked to the hot case and if they can figure out the former than hopefully Grammie wont be directing the shop from the Big House!
Was this review helpful?
Hems and Homicide is book one in the Apron Shop series by Elizabeth Penney, this was a good clean enjoyable cozy mystery. Iris has moved back home to live with her Grammie Anne after her Papa passed away and she is planning on an Apron Shop in town, the only thing she wasn't banking on was discovering skeleton remains in the basement during the renovations of her new store. Her Grammie instantly recognised the remains of an old friend from the 70's Star Moonshine from a piece of cloth around the skull, everyone thought Star had moved on as people tended to do during the 70's.

From here Iris and Anne's plans to open the shop are thwarted yet again when building's landlord Elliot turns up dead with one of Iris's aprons tied around his throat! As Iris starts to get threatening messages and the police start to investigate not only Star's murder but now Elliot's. With the suspect pool growing this book will keep you on your toes wondering who did the murder 40 years ago and if it was the same person who killed Elliot.

This was a great mystery and a great start to this series, I really loved the characters and I can't wait to read more in the series and see what is store for Iris and her business.

5 stars
Was this review helpful?
Hems and Homicide is the first book in a new mystery series (Apron Shop Mysteries), and was a quick, enjoyable read.  Iris Buckley and her grandmother, Anne, are getting ready to open their new apron shop, Ruffles and Bows, in the town of Blueberry Cove, Maine, when the skeletal remains of a woman Iris' grandmother recognized by the clothes is discovered in the basement of the building they are renting for the shop, plans for the shop are put on hold.  As the police begin to investigate who could have killed her, When Anne becomes identified by the police as a prime suspect in the murder, Iris knows that she needs to prove her grandmother's innocence, and with her best friend Madison, sets out to find who the real killer is.  

Hems and Homicide was a good start to this new series, and was a fast-paced read.  The main characters of Iris, her grandmother Anne, and her best friend, Madison, were all likable characters.  Looking forward to the next mystery for Iris to solve!

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martins Paperbacks for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Hems and Homicide is a cozy mystery featuring Iris Buckley.  Iris has returned to her hometown to open a handmade and vintage apron shop in Maine with her grandmother Anne.  When they are getting the shop ready, Iris discovers a skeleton in the basement.  After her grandmother is investigated as a suspect, she becomes involved searching for the killer.

I wanted to read this mystery from the very first mention because it involves aprons.  I love them and have even blogged about my vintage apron collection before!  I really loved the details in this book dealing with aprons, vintage linens (something else I enjoy), and sewing.  

Although this mystery takes place in the present day, there is a lot of the victim's personal history in the early 1970's.  I enjoyed the flashback details to the 1970's (which included Iris's grandmother and her past) and felt they added a lot to the book.  As a result of the flashbacks, there is a very large cast of characters in this book.  I wish there had been a list of characters as it would have made it easier to sort them out the first few chapters.

The mystery aspect of the story was so well written and paced and kept me guessing until a chapter or so before the killer was revealed.  Iris makes a great amateur sleuth and I enjoyed her detection process.  I thought it was neat that she even included historical research at the library as part of her personal investigation.

I liked Iris as a protagonist and enjoyed her relationship with her grandmother, her friends, and her cat Quincy.  I also liked the beginnings of a possible relationship with her old crush, Ian, who is doing some work on the shop.

I read a lot of cozy mysteries and felt that Hems and Homicide is really a stand out as a first mystery in a series.  It definitely made me want to read more!  As soon as I finished I went to Goodreads to see when a second book will be available.  I recommend this book for fans of cozy mysteries, small town settings, cats, and vintage/handmade linens.  I know you will enjoy the read as much as I did!
Was this review helpful?
This is a lovely start to a new series set in Maine.  The characters are relatable, the location is picturesque, and the killer is elusive.

I always enjoy a good cozy and especially enjoy discovering new series that could be one to follow and I think this is one of those series.  We are introduced to Iris and Anne, a close-knit pair that are opening their own apron shop.  Now before you start questioning the goods they are selling, Iris has an online presence and there will be more than just aprons in their storefront, which is a good thing because I'm not sure just aprons would pay the rent!  Iris has a trio of girlfriends that ground her and the mix of personalities makes for a well rounded group of women.  They know how to balance each other so that no one friend dominates or craters the friendship.

The mystery itself is intriguing because it involves a 40 year old murder and most of the potential killers still live in this small town.  That is good for the police since they aren't having to traipse across the county or country to find the suspects.  Unfortunately, the police are looking at Anne strongly, but not for good reason.  Iris is like most protagonists and finds herself smack dab in the middle of the investigation and takes it upon herself to find the killer, primarily so her grandmother doesn't go to jail.

There were a few odd things that stuck out to me.  Iris receives threatening texts and emails way too soon in the story.  She really hasn't started investigating yet someone is telling her to stay out of it already?  Iris appears to be very high strung and while I understand that she is looking out for her grandmother, I thought she could take it down a notch or two with her anxiousness....if that makes any sense!

But overall we enjoyed this book and are intrigued as to what will happen in the next book.  There is a teaser at the end of this book but I haven't read it yet, I think I'll wait and be surprised.

We give this book 4 paws up.
Was this review helpful?
Hems and Homicide by Elizabeth Penney is the premiere of An Apron Shop Series.  Iris Buckley and her grandmother, Anne are opening Ribbons and Bows in Blueberry Cove, Maine.  They are going over the property with Ian Stewart, the carpenter, when Iris stumbles down the basement stairs, knocks over shelves and a skull is exposed.  Anne Buckley, Iris’s grandmother, recognizes the scarf around the skull as belonging to Star Moonshine who disappeared around July 4th in 1972.  When their landlord, Elliot Parker end up dead in the storeroom with Iris’s favorite apron tied around his neck, Anne becomes the prime suspect.  Iris with assistance from her best friend, Madison uses her knowledge gleamed from mystery novels to do a little sleuthing.  I enjoyed reading Hems and Homicide.  I love the concept of a shop featuring aprons (vintage and custom creations) along with vintage linens.  They will also have a room for sewing classes and Iris’s cat, Quincy will be in residence during the day.  The author took the time to establish the characters along with the setting.  I like Iris and Anne Buckley along with Iris’s friends.  There is a close bond between Iris and her grandmother that I thought was sweet.  They are grieving the loss of Anne’s husband, Joe who died three months earlier.  Iris wears vintage inspired clothing, loves to read, and finds petting her cat soothing.  She is attracted to Ian Stewart, their carpenter.  Iris and Ian grew up together and she had a crush on him in high school. It may be the timing is right for Iris and Ian.  We shall have to wait and see.  There are great descriptions of the town, the shops and the Buckley farm.  I would like to move to Blueberry Cove with its historic buildings and friendly (most of them) residents.  There are two mysteries in Hems and Homicide.  There is the cold case of Star Moonshine and the current death of Elliot Parker.  I thought the mysteries were clever and intriguing.  I enjoyed following the clues and solving the crimes. I thought the one manner of death to be unique.  I am eager for the next book in An Apron Shop Series.  If you like vintage clothing, charming towns, friendly character and crafty whodunits, then you will enjoy reading Hems and Homicide.  Hems and Homicide has a cold case, antique aprons, a big pig, a poisonous plant, and a gritty granddaughter.
Was this review helpful?
The first book in the Apron Shop mysteries was a fun one!  A classic cozy mix of characters (doting grandmother, supportive group of female friends, love interest from her past) plus a niche business (vintage and modern linen fashions, sewing groups, and aprons!) and a mystery that altercates those near and dear to our heroine, made for an all around enjoyable read.  I'll be looking for the next instalment!
Was this review helpful?
A fun and interesting start to a new cozy mystery series. The characters were entertaining and engaging, there's a light romance that doesn't overshadow the story, the mystery was interesting, and there were enough red herrings to keep you guessing. 
I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more books in this series.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. My thoughts and opinions are my own and without bias or favor.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
Hems And Homicide is the first book in the Apron Shop series.

Iris Buckley has returned to Blueberry Cove, Maine to help her Grandma Anne settle her grandfather’s estate. Iris decides to take her online business of hand made aprons and open a shop, along with Grandma Anne, selling aprons and the latest and vintage linens. They have rented a storefront from Elliot Parker, who has been badgering the family for years about purchasing some of their property.

The store needs some renovations before opening and Ian Stewart, a flame from Iris’s high school days, has agreed to help get the shop into shape. As Iris is going down the stairs to the basement she falls and dislodges some shelves along a basement wall. The wall behind the shelved crumbles, revealing a skull, further looking discovers the rest of the body. When Grandma Anne comes to see what happened, she identifies the remains as those Star Moonshine, who disappeared some 43 years ago, by the scarf that is with the body. Since Anne was acquainted with Star before she disappeared, Anne will become a suspect, along with four or five of her other friends. When Parker is found murdered Anne becomes the prime suspect.
Iris will call on her BFF, Madison, and Ian to help her find the killer.

This is an exciting new and exciting series with a cast of believable and enjoyable characters. Looking forward to future books to learn more about Blueberry Cove and its residents.
Was this review helpful?
Iris and her Grandmother are taking the plunge and opening a physical location for their online apron shop. The historic storefront will need plenty of work to transform it into a welcoming place of business, but they're confident that they can have everything done by opening day....until Iris discovers the decades old skeleton in the basement. They're still determined to move forward with their plans, but then their unpleasant landlord is found dead in the shop. 

Iris's grandmother is able to identify the skeleton by its colorful clothing, but she only knew her friend by the name she was using in the 60s. Everyone had assumed that the young woman left town, but her body has been in the basement all that time. This book has that small town/small business setting that I enjoy so much, with a cast of well developed characters. It's entertaining to watch her try to reconcile her own grandparents and their peers with the lives they led long before she was born.
Was this review helpful?
I am in love with this series already. Grammie and Iris make a great team. Add the adorable cat, Quincy and we have a winner.

The author has done an excellent job of keeping the reader involved with plenty of red herrings to keep you guessing. There is a hint of romance but it doesn't overtake the story at all. Plus, big bonus, no love triangle.
Aside from murder (after all it is a cozy mystery), a clean read that can be enjoyed by many.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, St. Martin's Press, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.
Was this review helpful?
A good start to a new series. Familiar elements sewn together with a unique twist that helps to make the story not seem stale and too familiar. The author does a good job of introducing characters and setting the stage. I am interested to see what the next installments have in store.
Was this review helpful?
Elizabeth Penney  has a wonderful  well-written debut cozy mystery. It is book one in the Apron Shop series. I had a relative that collected Aprons so I was thrilled to read a mystery with a apron shop setting.  Aprons are well loved by those of us from past generations.  This was such a delightful book with richly drawn likable charcters and a wonderful cozy mystery sleuth. Thank you to the publisher and to Net Galley for the opportunity.    I highly recommend this debut in series for your cozy reading enjoyment.

First I loved the setting the author created of a small town called " Blueberry  Cove" in Maine. The descriptions of the idyllic small town are perfectly portrayed by the author. Right away you wish it was real so you could visit. Our new cozy protagonist is  Iris who has moved back  to her home town and decided to stay. She has recently lost her Grandfather so she decides to stay for her Grandmother and they open a business together. Iris makes homemade aprons and linens that are sold online and she is thrilled to open a store. They name the store " Ruffles And Bows" (adorable) and begin renovations. When a skeleton is found in the rubble wearing one of her Grandmother's scarves, the police immediately suspect her Grandmother.  Iris will not stand for her grieving Grandmother to be accused so she is determined to investigate and clear her beloved Grandmother.  A second body is found and her Grandmother falls under even further suspicion. 

This is the perfect cozy mystery debut ! I loved everything about this book. The charcters are very  likable and fun , the sleuth well  balanced between clues and red herrings that kept me guessing to conclusion. I love the idyllic setting of a small quaint town in Maine. This has all the right elements for a long standing cozy mystery series. I look forward to the next in series.
Was this review helpful?