Antique Auctions are Murder
by Libby Klein
I always look forward to a visit at the Butterfly Wings B&B in Cape May, New Jersey. Poppy and her octogenarian Aunt Ginny operate their bed and breakfast that is beginning to show success. Poppy makes breakfast treats for the B&B and gluten-free muffins for her boyfriend’s espresso shop.
While I had no trouble remembering the major characters, I actually took some notes on the other characters in this book because there are so many of them. One of the major threads involves the dysfunctional Whipple family and those they know in the antique world. The patriarch and all of his children are more concerned about possessions than people.
This is the tourist season, and there are a lot of guests at the B&B. With all of the visitors’ quirks, Poppy stays busy sorting everyone out. The wine bottle and huge chunk of cheese disappear daily from the happy hour setting. Takeout orders are delivered in the middle of the night. Two guests bring their female cats, including one very large Maine Coon, who try to impress Figaro, Poppy’s male cat, who’s not having it.
Humor is all through the book, from smile-inducing to laugh out loud scenes. Some of the humor comes from the characters. Red-haired, feisty, little Aunt Ginny and her three senior sidekicks (aka “the biddies”) manage to draw Poppy into all kinds of situations. Victory, the Ukrainian chambermaid with narcolepsy, still works at the B&B. She is treated like part of the family, but her accent, misunderstanding of idioms, and the situations she gets into are hilarious. Some of the humor also comes from Poppy’s inner dialogue—what she is thinking but doesn’t verbalize. Incredibly, there is another very funny subplot related to a threat left for Poppy on her front lawn. It should be serious, but with Aunt Ginny’s “help,” it goes viral and the B&B guests and staff jump into the situation with a profit making scheme.
Gia and Poppy are officially a dating couple, but it seems doubtful that his mother and sister will let him go and accept Poppy like his melt-your-heart sweet little boy has. On Poppy’s side, Georgina, her mother-in-law from her only marriage, shows up unexpectedly at the B&B. Poppy is a widow and Georgina has a 10% interest in the business. She is high maintenance and has servants at home, but Poppy puts her to work as a chambermaid when Victory is out of commission in yet another humorous situation.
With all that’s going on, you might wonder how there is any room in Antique Auctions are Murder for a murder mystery. That’s where the author’s fine art of plotting comes in. There is a murder and Poppy’s solving the mystery is front and center in the book with all of these characters and situations moving in and out and then actually coming together. So many people with motives! So much greed and a plethora of secrets! The murder weapon is unusual. The killer is not someone you would suspect and you might even have sympathy for. Perhaps my favorite part of the book is the Epilogue. It not only ties up some loose ends and clears up a few major misunderstandings on the part of the characters, but it reveals one last surprise that will knock you over!
I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: 1. #7 in the Poppy McAllister Mystery Series. It could be read as a standalone, but at this point in the series I think a new reader would have some trouble isolating the recurring characters. The whole series is so good, that my recommendation is to start at the beginning and ENJOY!
2. The book ends with a lot of Jersey boardwalk inspired, gluten free recipes. An example is “Unicorn Cotton Candy CuppyCakes.”
Publication: February 22, 2022—Kensington
My chambermaid hobbled around the corner with her arms sticking straight out and her legs wide like a zombie. “I weill sue sunscream companee. I am shreemp.” I think you mean lobster.”
Aunt Ginny cocked her head to give me a gleeful smile. I hadn’t seen her this excited since the Entenmann truck broke down around the corner and the driver had to give away fifty boxes of raspberry Danish twist.
Mrs. Davis gave me a look that was so pitiful it would put a basset hound to shame.