Thursday, August 27, 2020

Thread and Dead (2nd in The Apron Shop Series) by Elizabeth Penney

Thread and Dead: The Apron Shop Series
ISBN-10 : 1250257972 - Mass Market Paperback $7.99
Publisher : St. Martin's Paperbacks (August 25, 2020), 288 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley.

The blurb: Iris Buckley is busier than ever this July, with the town’s annual Lobster Festival fast approaching. In just a matter of days her apron shop Ruffles & Bows, will be jam-packed with tourists eager to lay eyes on its world-class collection of aprons and linens—and Iris’s inventory is running low. Then, just when all hope seems lost, Iris gets a call from Eleanor Brady, a wealthy, reclusive spinster who just happens to have trunks full of vintage fabrics. Would Iris like to come down to Eleanor’s cottage estate Shorehaven and have a look?
Before long Iris is on the scene—and on the case. Turns out that Eleanor has rented Shorehaven to the handsome, charismatic environmentalist Dr. Lukas de Wilde and his flock of students. What begins as an apron-scouting endeavor soon morphs into a full-blown murder investigation when Dr. de Wilde’s beautiful young teaching assistant turns up dead. Now it’s up to Iris—along with her partner-in-love-and-crime Ian Stewart—to unravel the mystery before the Blueberry Cove killer strikes again.

My review:
Thread and Dead is my first exposure to Elizabeth Penney and Blueberry Cove in Maine. I love cozies, Agatha Christie and these small towns, so I was quick to lose myself in Thread and Dead. 

Blueberry Cove sounds like one of the prosperous towns in New England with millionaires' cottages that are Gilded Age mansions by any other standard.  Blueberry Cove felt like a mix of Newport, Rhode Island and Bar Harbor, Maine with the delicious lobsters, the wealthy towns with high quality shops, families that have lived in the area for generations, and the emphasis on high end tourism.  But beyond the memorable location, the strong female characters from Iris Buckley and her grandmother to their solid circle of friends.  The camaraderie of the women and their romantic leads gives Elizabeth Penney's novel a lightness and cheer.  

Iris Buckley has a fondness for classic cars and the classic looks of the 20s, 40s, and 50s.  She is inquisitive but unfailingly polite - an unkind neighbor might call her a snoop.  Iris lost her parents in a car accident as a child and was raised by her grandparents in Blueberry Cove on a sprawling piece of land that has been in the Buckley family for generations.  At the start of Thread and Dead, Iris and her grandmother have a new and thriving business in high quality linens, aprons, etc and they are always looking for the better quality vintage items.  Iris receives a call from Eleanor Brady with an invitation to purchase vintage linens found at Shorehaven, a fabled cottage estates.  Eleanor asks  Iris to help sell a trunk of clothing from Eleanor's mother who had worked as a nursemaid before marrying the son of the house.  The trunk has early Coco Chanel and Iris is intrigued.  She agrees to help dig up more about the history of the items and about Eleanor's mother's past and undertakes to protect Eleanor from her unscrupulous nephew.

Unrelated to Eleanor's history, a young research fellow is a murder on the cliffs of Blueberry Cove just as Iris and her friends are rock climbing.  As near witnesses, Iris and Madison start their unofficial investigation of possible suspects.  Could it be someone related to the seaweed research project? Is it a local of Blueberry Cove? Who has a motive?  Who might be next?

Iris, Grammie and Madison ferret out the clues and the truth - always with politeness and good taste. 

Thread and Dead is the sort of book I'd lend or recommend to friends looking for a summer escape. I have to read the first book in the series and will be keeping my eye out for anything else by Elizabeth Penney.  In the time of this Covid 19 pandemic, books like Thread and Dead are a special joy! Granted, her books would be fun even in the best of times.  

About the Author: Elizabeth Penney is the author of more than two dozen cozy mysteries, including the Apron Shop Series, which begins with Hems & Homicide. She is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and the owner of 2 Penney Productions. A former consultant and nonprofit executive, Elizabeth grew up in Maine and now lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, where she also operates a small farm.

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