News Flash: Lori Smanski is the lucky winner of Libby’s book! Lori, congratulations, and please check your email.
Edith here, so happy to welcome Libby Klein back to the blog. She has a new mystery out and it looks like a fun one!
Here’s the blurb for Antique Auctions Are Murder:
When vintage items go up for auction, gluten-free baker and B&B owner Poppy McAllister discovers some people will pay the ultimate price. . .
It’s peak summer season at the Butterfly House Bed and Breakfast in Cape May, with tourists fluttering in and out and wreaking enough havoc to rival a Jersey Shore hurricane. Also back in town is Courtney Whipple and his family of antique dealers for the annual Cold Spring Village antique show. Courtney’s son Auggie has a unique piece he believes will fetch them a fortune if he can get it authenticated in time—a piece rival dealer Grover Prickle insists was stolen from his store.
Poppy and her Aunt Ginny attend the auction, hoping to bid on an armoire for the B&B, and discover a veritable armory for sale—everything from ancient blades and nineteenth century guns to such potential killing devices as knitting needles and a blacksmith hammer. Strangely, they don’t see either Auggie or Grover—or the mysterious item they both claim to own. Then during the auction, a body falls out of the very armoire Poppy was hoping to acquire, stabbed through the heart. Now, surrounded by competitive dealers and makeshift weapons, she must find out who turned the auction house into a slaughterhouse . . .
Before eBay, auctions happened in the likes of giant barns, tents, and ballrooms. One would register for a paddle – i.e. give your credit card and personal identification to someone in charge. This was so the auction house knew whom to shakedown should you have buyer’s remorse over your vintage deer antler candlestick holders and try to skip out on paying. Then you would sit in a stuffy room that smelled like your grandparents’ house while the auction staff paraded treasures across a stage to test your impulse control.
If an item was really hot, or attendees were super jazzed, a bidding war would ensue with paddles flying and the auctioneer raising the bid in a frenzy of excitement. Winning was a rush! You didn’t just buy the beloved treasure. You beat out that yokel across the aisle who tried to steal “the precious” out from under you. The audacity of some people. It serves them right to lose that antique bronze candle snuffer. You take a moment to gloat over your winnings, and naturally, you tell them if they want it, they’ll have to pry it from your cold, dead, fist.
It was only later, while you were trying to figure out how to cart your new heirlooms home in your hatchback with bucket seats, that you had to face facts. You may have been tricked by your own competitive nature to spend the rent money on what some would call a frivolous purchase. Where exactly were you going to store a carousel horse? And would the blue velvet painting of a St. Bernard in a red smoking jacket even match your sage green sofa in the harsh light of day?
I will confess to being taken in by an exuberant auctioneer and my own lust for winning on at least two occasions. There may be more – but I’m only admitting to these. One was at the annual Cold Spring Village Antique show many years ago. The very same venue that is happening in my new release, Antique Auctions Are Murder. While perusing the various stalls showing their wares, I spotted a beautiful armoire that I just had to have. I gave no thought to the fact that it didn’t fit in my tiny bedroom, or that it would never fit in the trunk of my sporty Subaru. And knowing absolutely nothing about antiques and how to judge their worth, I plunked down my credit card and claimed my prize.
After renting a U-Haul that cost as much as the armoire to get it home, we struggled to drag it up the ninety-degree L-shaped steps to the bedroom without destroying it or the walls completely. There was blue paint on one of the legs, and a piece was chipped out of the front panel showing that the supposed wood was actually a veneer. It was short and fat so you couldn’t hang anything full length inside without it dragging on the bottom. And there were three very large drawers on one side for all the sweaters I didn’t have, making it totally impractical to hold anything other than my thin layer of socks and underwear in each.
It was too tall to place a TV on, too short to hang a dress in, too flimsy to hold anything heavy, and too narrow to store a winter coat. It took up so much space that you had to sidestep past it to get into the room. At one point it was such an eyesore that we stuffed it in the closet just so we could move around.
The other treasure I had to have was an oil burning lamp because clearly we live in an Amish farmhouse in the eighteen hundreds where an oil burning lamp would be useful. Not to mention the attraction of having a small breakable item, literally on fire, at a toddler’s eye level, for my children to be obsessed with. When a genie didn’t pop out of the top, I realized I’d need to buy oil for the lamp, and having absolutely no idea where one would acquire Victorian genie lamp oil it was put away to collect dust like a knockoff Hummel figurine. Over the years I broke the globe, chipped the paint, and moved it around to every room in the house because it never fit quite right no matter where I put it.
Don’t even get me started on the number of eBay auctions I’ve overbid on just to win against someone who dared bid against me during the final moments, only to have to relist the item later because it wasn’t actually what I wanted in the first place. My antique-scouting skills obviously leave much to be desired. However, I can attest that no one was ever murdered at an auction I attended. I can’t speak to the ones where I wasn’t there. It is South Jersey after all.
Readers: Have you ever bought anything at an auction – live or on eBay? Was it everything you’d hoped for or did you have Libby-level buyer’s remorse? I’ll give a copy of Antique Auctions Are Murder to one lucky commenter who makes me feel better about myself.
Libby Klein graduated Lower Cape May Regional High School in the ’80s. Her classes revolved mostly around the culinary sciences and theater, with the occasional nap in Chemistry. She writes culinary cozy mysteries from her Northern Virginia office while trying to keep her naughty cat Figaro off her keyboard. Libby was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that prevents her from eating gluten without exploding. Because of her love for cake, she now creates gluten free goodies from her professional kitchen and includes the recipes in her Poppy McAllister series. Most of her hobbies revolve around eating, and travel, and eating while traveling. She insists she can find her way to any coffee shop anywhere in the world, even while blindfolded. Follow all of her nonsense at www.libbykleinbooks.com