Bodies and Bows By Elizabeth Penney: Review/Giveaway/Interview

Apr 24, 2021 | 2021 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow

This week we have a review of Bodies and Bows by Elizabeth Penney, along with a fun interview with Elizabeth! Details at the end of the post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and a link to order it from Amazon and an independent bookstore.

Bodies and Bows: The Apron Shop Series by Elizabeth Penney
Review by Cynthia Chow

It’s been a busy summer ever since Iris Buckley and her grandmother opened the brick and mortar version of their apron and linens shop in Blueberry Cove, Maine. Before Iris has a chance to look into hiring extra help for their Ruffles & Bows store, though, an inconvenient dental filling falling out sends her to the office of her childhood dentist, Dr. Oslo Pedersen. To her surprise his son Peter has taken over the practice, while his much more flirtatious brother Lance continues to teach sailing and romance her best friend Bella Ricci. When Lance is horrifically killed in a hit-and-run accident by Bella’s own car, she is quickly suspected and then arrested for the death.

Unable to idly sit by as a Bella is framed for a crime she didn’t commit, Iris once again wades into a murder investigation to find the truth. Bella’s cheating ex-husband Alan is back declaring his wish to reunite, and it’s all Iris can do to hold back her judgment and opinion. As it happens, Alan’s grandmother Florence Bailey was once a resident of the town’s lighthouse, and as part of the Lighthouse Rehabilitation Committee, Iris hopes to use Florence’s reminisces as they celebrate the new lighthouse museum. When not going through the tragically romantic letters stored in lighthouse keeper trunks, Iris gathers her posse of her friends and grandmother to help Bella and solve the mystery behind the Olympic sailor’s death.

This third in the series continues to be a showcase for the bond between these five women. While they are all at different stages in their lives and in an assortment of relationships, they support one another and celebrate one another’s fortunes. The charming existence of a specialty apron shop is made more real through its origin as an online vendor, not to mention its being a tourist destination for those seeking customized, impossible-to-find linens. The conversations between Iris, her grandmother, and her friends always feel natural and real, generating an enviable bond between these women. Whether planning one’s wedding, playing matchmaker for seniors, or finding a motive for murder, these women always have one another’s backs and unwavering support. This is the perfect cozy mystery for a weekend spent escaping from the world, despite its numerous murders and envious villains. It is only appropriate that an apron plays a role in foiling the ultimate killer, tying the bow on a satisfying and very heart-warming read.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Interview with Elizabeth Penney:

KRL: How long have you been writing?

Elizabeth: My writing career started a couple of decades ago, while I was a consultant to small businesses. I wrote articles, case studies, training materials, and business profiles. I dabbled in fiction, and in 2012, got my first contract with Annie’s Fiction for a cozy mystery. Since then, I’ve written dozens of cozy mystery and women’s fiction titles for Annie’s and Guideposts. In 2019, I sold the Apron Shop Series to St. Martin’s Press. Bodies and Bows is book number three in that series.

KRL: When did your first novel come out, what was it called, and would you tell us a little about it?

Elizabeth: Hems & Homicide is the first Apron Shop mystery featuring Iris Buckley, who starts a vintage apron and linens shop with her grandmother in coastal Maine. Naturally she stumbles across a body or two and must solve the mystery. Iris also has a nice circle of friends and is rekindling a romance with a former flame, carpenter Ian Stewart.

Elizabeth Penney

KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense and if not, what else have you written?

Elizabeth: Besides cozy mysteries, I’ve written four entries in the Annie’s Fiction series, Inn at Magnolia Harbor, set in South Carolina.

KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?

Elizabeth: I used to live in Maine so setting a series in a fictional coastal town has been fun. Blueberry Cove is basically a mash-up of Camden and Belfast, two beautiful towns. A question: do we choose characters, or do they choose us? I had the idea for an apron shop and then Iris popped into my mind, fully formed. She’s down to earth, intelligent, caring, and inquisitive. She’s also close to her grandmother, Anne, who is her business partner as well. I like representing women of all ages in my stories. Anne is smart, savvy, and loving.

KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?

Elizabeth: My goal is to write feel-good fiction, stories that leave the reader with a smile. I also try to celebrate what I find wonderful about life: family, friends, home, and the interests and passions that I feature. Secrets of the past, old houses, antiques, art, food, and gardens make their way into a lot of my stories.

KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just work whenever you can?

Elizabeth: I write just about every day, and I have a word count goal for my current projects. I’m often also developing plots, outlining, or editing other books.

KRL: What is your ideal time to write?

Elizabeth: I usually write in the morning, while I’m fresh.

KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?

Elizabeth: I definitely outline, which is painful because I’m a natural pantser, but when writing mysteries, outlines are invaluable to plan out the mystery, place red herrings, and create a twisty plot. They made writing go much, much faster, and cut down on revisions. But despite the outlines, my characters surprise me in every book. There is always an unexpected twist or two.

KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?

Elizabeth: Yes, I sure did. I queried a number of projects over the years. The work for Annie’s Fiction and Guideposts contributed to my breakthrough. I had lots of experience under my belt, and with my publishing history, I was able to sell on proposal.

KRL: What are your future writing goals?

Elizabeth: I have another series forthcoming from St. Martin’s Press, the Cambridge Bookshop Series, later this year. In addition to additional mysteries, I also hope to publish women’s fiction.

KRL: Who are your writing heroes?

Elizabeth: Every writer who persevered through a long period of rejection and finally had their dreams come true.

KRL: What kind of research do you do?

Elizabeth: I research everything, with the aim of creating a story that could happen even if it’s fictional. For Bodies and Bows, for example, I researched Olympic sailing teams, the Korean War, Maine veterans of the Korean War, lighthouse history, lighthouse equipment, period aprons, automobile key systems, and schooner sailing tours.

KRL: What do you like to read?

Elizabeth: I like mysteries, both light and dark, psychological thrillers, historical fiction, women’s fiction, and some adventure fiction.

KRL: Have you any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?

Elizabeth: A lot of writing advice says similar things: read a lot, keep writing, get feedback, write what you’re passionate about. I’d like to say this – take opportunities to write, especially if you get paid. In a former job, for example, my colleagues and I were tapped to write feature business articles as part of our jobs. Most declined, but later I was able to freelance on the basis of my experience and skill. All types of writing can hone your skills, word choice, flexibility, and voice.

KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Elizabeth: I spent the first part of my childhood in England and France, where my father was stationed. I even spoke French until we returned to the States, where I soon lost the ability, since no one responded to me.

KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?


To enter to win a copy of Bodies and Bows, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “bows,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 1, 2021. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode goes up next week.

You can use this link to purchase this book from indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy, and KRL gets a portion of the sale:

You can use this link to purchase the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. This author and series are new to me. I’d love to read this book.

  2. This sounds like a wonderful series. Thanks for the chance to win this. Whenever I see aprons I think of my friend who used to make them.

  3. Enjoyed the interview, sounds good! tWarner419(at)aol(dot)com

  4. Yes please, I’d love to win this book. I love the series and own the first one.

  5. Great interview! Count me in!

  6. I’ve heard of this series but haven’t read any. Would love to win one.

  7. She is a new to me author and I would love to win a copy of the book. 3labsmom(at)gmail(dot)com

  8. Would really love to read. Adding to my TBR list.

  9. Great interview. I would love to read this book.

  10. Thanks for the interview! I haven’t tried her books before. JL_Minter(at)hotmail(dot)com

  11. Good to see women supporting each
    other in times of trial. Sounds like
    a good red. thanks.

  12. I like this series. This new one sounds wonderful. Stay safe and well.

  13. I read the first one in this series and bought the second so it would be great to win this one. I love the “old” ladies in this series! They’re a lot of fun.

  14. Sounds good. I may have one of her other books.

  15. We have a winner!


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