The Painted Lobster Murders is the second book in my Cozy Craft mysteries series. The series takes place in a sewing shop in the beautiful Suffolk town of Framlingham. The main characters, Penny and Izzy take on commissions, so we see them creating something special with their sewing skills while they solve a mystery that takes place in the area.
It’s summer time during this book, and there is a classic car show in the town. The commission they are given is for something to complement a 1930s car. The customer decides on a set of playful, vintage style overalls in gorgeous white linen, and to make it extra special Penny and Izzy must add the image of a lobster. This is inspired by a genuine period dress (more on that below). While they are creating this outfit, the family and friends of the customer become embroiled in a murder mystery. Penny and Dizzy must complete the outfit and solve the murders before another victim is claimed. There is a cute corgi dog called Monty in this book too, who steals everybody’s heart, in spite of his naughty ways.
Cozy mysteries are popular with a great many people, especially those who prefer an amateur sleuth and less violence than you might find in other crime books. There should be a satisfying mystery at the heart of a ‘cozy’, and readers are invited to try to crack it alongside our amateur sleuths.
The addition of the sewing and fashion detail is something that appeals to my fellow sewing enthusiasts! There are more of us than you might imagine…
It’s not a textbook though, so the sewing detail is more to do with enjoying the creativity and the gorgeous fabrics. We can all admire a crisp linen, or the pleasing array of colourful threads on sale in the Cozy Craft shop.
The particular inspiration for this outfit was the work of Elsa Schiaparelli. She was a remarkable designer in the early 20th century. It was Schiaparelli who popularised the colour known as shocking pink. She had a collaboration with Dali, the surrealist painter, and he painted a lobster onto a white dress that she designed.
There was an exhibition of Schiaparelli’s work in Paris through 2022 and early 2023, so I made a day trip to go and see it. It was a very long day, starting out in the centre of the UK, and involved catching a train down to London to get the Eurostar, but it was worth it! They had the original lobster dress, as worn by Wallis Simpson (the divorced woman who prompted the King of England’s abdication).
I hope that by introducing a little of the context, readers might be tempted to go and look up this remarkable woman for themselves. I wouldn’t dream of giving homework to Authors’ Lounge readers but I promise that it can be rewarding to find out more about someone who lived nearly a hundred years ago and continues to influence today’s fashion. Many of us will simply be content to hear about Schiaparelli* through the lens of fiction, and that’s fine too. What I really want readers to be thinking when they finish this book, is when they can catch up with Penny and Izzy again! The good news there is that there are more books in the series. At the time of writing, there are five books for sale with a sixth in development.
The book may be found on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Painted-Lobster-Murders-Craft-Mystery-ebook/dp/B0BH14F2P5, or you can see the whole series here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BH15J9YD
* I should mention that Elsa Schiaparelli is not the only notable person to bear the same surname. Her uncle Giovanni was an astronomer, and he brought a much more detailed understanding of the features of Mars to the world. When I was on the train to Paris, a friend saw me post about my plans on social media and asked if I might speak to a local science fiction group about the exhibition when I got back. We both saw the funny side of things when we realised that we had got our Schiaparellis mixed up…