Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Book Review: Seams Like Murder by Dorothy Howell (Sewing Studio Mysteries #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Mostly strong characters and a good mystery
Cons: The sheriff; lots of series set up
The Bottom Line:
Hit and run murder
Sets up promising series
Uneven pacing

Can Abbey Sew Up a Murder?

Living in Southern California, I’ve met Dorothy Howell a time or two, and I fully intended to read one of her books.  When I saw she was starting a new series, I figured that was the perfect time to give her a try, so I picked up Seams Like Murder.

When her life in Los Angeles takes several unexpected turns, Abbey Candler runs away to Hideaway Grove on the coast of California.  She spent many happy summers visiting her aunt there while growing up, and her aunt still owns the bakery in town.  She’s hoping for a little peace and quiet to figure out what to do with her life, but she’s only been there a few minutes when a fatal hit and run accident happens just behind her aunt’s bakery.

The victim is the town’s new librarian, and everyone seems to love her.  Surely, it was a tragic accident, right?  Abbey witnessed part of the accident, and she thinks it was deliberate, and she’s backed up by another woman who saw the entire thing.  But if everyone loved the victim, why would someone want to kill her?

This book got off to a quick start.  We are hardly into the book when the accident happens, and Abbey starts to wonder what is going on.  However, the pacing was a bit off as this book had the unenviable job of trying to set up the series and solve the murder.  I’ve been seeing it more recently, and I’m dubbing it TV pilot syndrome.  Abbey is reconnecting with friends and getting involved in turning an extra room in her aunt’s bakery into a sewing studio, and that takes time away from solving the murder.

Yes, sewing is definitely part of this book.  We hear quite a bit about pillowcase dresses over the course of the book, something I was unfamiliar with.  There are some directions for making your own at the end of the book.

Anyway, back to the story.  I definitely enjoyed getting to meet most of the characters, here.  The potential regulars are all wonderful, and I can see them becoming old friends in a hurry.  Abbey is an interesting main character facing quite a bit here.  We don’t get a lot of time with all the suspects, but we got enough to care about the outcome.  I do have to say I found the sheriff to be a bit too quick to jump to some ludicrous assumptions.  Fortunately, he wasn’t around that much because I would have found him even more annoying if he had been.

Don’t let what I said earlier make you think there isn’t a good mystery here.  It may take a bit longer to find it, but it is there.  I picked up on a couple of things before Abbey did, but I liked the way she pieced things together at the end.  The climax is perfect.

I’ve got to say, I wasn’t expecting food to play such a large part in this book.  Much of the action takes place around Abbey’s aunt’s bakery, and I was drooling as I read about all the wonderful things she was making.  If you aren’t hungry when you pick up this book, you will be after just a few pages.

Now that we have the characters and situations set up, I’m anxious to see what happens to Abbey next.  If you are looking for a promising debut, look no further than Seams Like Murder.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.


  1. I like books set in SoCal too. I lived there for several years, and my sisters now live there still

  2. I agree with your opinion of the sheriff. I thought he was way to pushy. But otherwise I thought this was a sound start to a series.

  3. How fun to have met the author! I don't love when the sheriff or detective is too quick to jump to assumptions or stuck on a particular idea but the rest of this sounds enjoyable enough where I could get past that!


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