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  • Writer's pictureSara Bond

Pairings Project: HEMS AND HOMICIDE by Elizabeth Penney

TLDR; HEMS AND HOMICIDE is a delightful cozy mystery with perfect pacing, just enough tension, and delicious world building that has me hungry for more.

I needed a comfort read the other day, so I reached for HEMS AND HOMICIDE by Elizabeth Penney. I couldn’t have picked a more delightful book about murder. H&H is the first book in a planned series about a small town woman who opens an apron shop. Yeah, you read that right. She uses vintage linens and patterns and makes adorable aprons, tablecloths, and other domestic niceties, which she sells in her newly redesigned downtown shop in a place called Blueberry Cove, Maine.

The main character, Iris Buckley, moved back to her hometown to help take care of the grandparents who raised her, and on her grandfather’s death, she and her Grammie, decide to start a business. There are all the usual hiccups with opening a new place—bringing the old building up to code, selecting paint colors and furniture to best display the wares, falling for the handsome small-town handyman, and, oh yeah, finding a skeleton hidden behind a wall in the cellar.

This being a small town mystery, there’s little immediate physical danger, no blood and guts, and a whole bunch of small town relationships with simmering resentments bubbling under the surface. Every time a new character was introduced, I was convinced he did it, she did it, even before there was an it committed. That’s the thing about small town relationships: there’s so much history, so many chances to hurt each other, to disappoint, to take an opportunity that another felt entitled to, that the setting is just ripe for murder. I’m so excited to see how many of these relationships are tested by future books in the series.

I will definitely be picking up the next in the series. In this, we just get to scratch the surface of Iris’s ambitions for the store, the tensions with other shop owners, the potential for drama as the tourists roll in and bring their own set of issues. The murder in H&H centers the towns wild past in the 70s, and the numerous romantic connections and heartbreaks in which townies inevitably find themselves embroiled. Iris’s Grammie serves as both the main source of information and the primary suspect, but it’s clear that nearly everyone has secrets, and they stretch back decades. I have a feeling these secrets will trickle out across multiple books, giving us a more complete picture of this quaint town.

The pacing of H&H is superb. I kept turning the pages, invested in every step of the journey. I cared about Iris and Grammie, but they weren’t even the most interesting characters. There’s Madison, the best friend who has trouble settling down, Sophie and Bella who run their own small business, and even Quincy, Iris’s shop cat, who provides comfort when it’s needed the most.

The real star of the book for me, though, was the FOOD! Penney writes some of the best descriptions of meals, teas, coffees, wines. Some of the best scenes take place in the town’s coffee shop, or over one of the girls’ regular potluck dinners. I got so hungry reading this book. I just want the lives these women lead, moving from delicious meal to coffee hangouts to comfort teas and suppers. If it wasn’t for the murders, life in Blueberry Cove would be perfect.

In short, I loved the book and will definitely be keeping an eye out for Elizabeth Penney’s next work.

TLDR; HEMS AND HOMICIDE is a delightful cozy mystery with perfect pacing, just enough tension, and delicious world building that has me hungry for more.


The Blueberry Cove

I had the hardest time coming up with a pairing for Hems and Homicide. I wrote the review a week ago, but have held off putting it up because I didn’t have just the right cocktail for it. Then, last night, I decided to just come up with something on my own. It took a few attempts, but I think it’s just the right amount of light and bubbly, sweet, and thematically appropriate for Penney’s Apron Shop series.

Without further ado I present you with:

The Blueberry Cove

1 oz gin

1/2 oz Lillet Blanc

1/4 oz simple syrup



In the bottom of a shaker, muddle a handful of blueberries. Add ice, gin, Lillet, and simple syrup. Shake vigorously. Strain into a Collins glass. Add prosecco to the top. Garnish with a few more blueberries.

I tried to be cute and get a picture of the cocktail with my one and only apron, but it's not nearly cute enough to feature with this book. Maybe I'll find some worthy prop by the sequel.

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