“Nope. No way. The price is too high. If I get involved in this,
the whole town will label me a death magnet.”
Mother Gibson’s eyes softened and she took my hand. “Oh,
honey. That ship sailed long ago.”
Libby Klein, Theater Nights Are Murder, Kindle Loc. 1500
Theater Nights Are Murder is the fourth book in Libby Klein’s Poppy McAllister mystery series. I’m a fan of Libby’s, and I wanted to interview Libby so I could read the book. (I’m bluntly honest—deal with it.) I admire writers who can craft humor. Libby is one of the best, and she combines it well with mystery. I won’t spoil the ending, but suffice it to say that Poppy and her cat, Figaro, are quite the team, along with Aunt Ginny and her crew of old biddies.
Set on the cusp of Valentine’s Day, the book is about love—all types, some of which aren’t as healthy as others. Poppy whips up Valentine’s Day bakery delights, but with murder, thievery, insurance fraud, and geriatric acting, love takes second stage to Poppy and the biddies going under cover to solve whodunit.
Please welcome Libby Klein back to WWK. E. B. Davis
Poppy came back to Cape May, NJ from Virginia to help her eighty-something Aunt Ginny stay out of assisted living. To make Aunt Ginny’s grand Victorian house pay for itself, Poppy opened it as the Butterfly Wings B & B. If Cape May is a cape, how is it an island?
Cape May is a man-made island. It became an island when a canal was created to connect the harbor to the Delaware Bay. It’s a real place with a lot of history for me. I grew up there. I went to high school, fell in love, got married and had my children there. Not in that order. It’s absolutely beautiful with the golden sand and silvery ocean, the stunning Victorian homes, the historic lighthouse. When I go home again, most of the places I frequent are little shacks off the tourist track that sell food from my childhood memories.
Poppy is involved with two men. Tim, her old flame from high school, and Gia, a new café owner with a wicked mother. Tim has a habit of stringing women along with romantic intent, but it could be subterfuge for keeping culinary talent for his restaurant. Is Poppy in denial or is she hoping his interest is more than business?
Poppy has loved Tim for most of her life. It’s hard to let go of that first love. And when they’re together, the memories and feelings come rushing back – for both of them. It doesn’t hurt that Tim is a very sexy chef, and he’s living the dream that he and Poppy once had together. Her decision is a hard one for lots of reasons. This could be her chance to reclaim her lost love and her lost career. Or she could end up breaking the heart of someone she cares very deeply about – for the second time.
Gia seems like the perfect guy, but he comes with family baggage. In a contest, who would win? Georgina, Poppy’s late husband’s problematic mother or Gia’s old Italian mother?
There is no doubt, Momma Larusso would destroy Georgina. Georgina was only able to boss Poppy around because Poppy would lie down and take it. Poppy entered her marriage with Georgina’s son John under a cloud of guilt and shame. It’s only since she’s come home to Cape May and started her life over that she’s learning to stand up for herself. Now if the contest were between Momma and Aunt Ginny… My money’s on Aunt Ginny. Momma is tough and scary, but Aunt Ginny is clever and has a backup posse in the biddies.
How did Sir Figaro Newton get his name? Does he defy gravity or prove Newton’s theories correct?
I think it’s more that he’s sweet and sometimes sticky like a cookie. Sir Figaro Newton is my real black smoke Persian and my son named him. When my kids were little, I took them to see a professional puppet show in the park and they did a version of the Marriage of Figaro with cat and dog puppets and a bakery selling fig rolls. I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure that was his inspiration.
Where does Aunt Ginny get her tee-shirts?
On the internet. My guess is passive-aggressiveTs.com You can have anything custom made nowadays. And god knows she’ll bedazzle it when it gets home.
The B & B is getting bad reviews from a troll, who uses different online names so the reviews look like they are coming from multiple people. How do most people deal with trolls?
Some people get into Twitter rants or post vague aggressive messages on Facebook to the trolls. Some people ignore them and know that any reasonable person will see their critical judgment as just one person’s opinion. We can all see that a one-star review that a troll leaves for a book they haven’t read but are angry because the post office delivery was slow is absolute rubbish.
Like many doctors remind patients with Celiac Disease, gluten-free doesn’t mean calorie-free. Is this Poppy’s problem in losing weight or is she seriously plateauing?
Poppy has a lot of health issues that are keeping weight on her. She’s doing everything she can to lose the weight and it just isn’t working. Some people may have a hard time believing this is possible, but even medical science is now acknowledging that there is so much more to weight loss than calories and exercise. You can do everything “right” and still not lose weight because of stress, hormones, genetics, illness, medications, etc. Poppy is going to have to accept that she can’t beat her body into a size five if it refuses to go there.
Aunt Ginny’s high school boyfriend, Royce Hansen, comes back to Cape May after a career in Broadway theater, during which he won four Tonys. He has volunteered to star in a play at the Senior Center as a fundraiser. Ginny’s heart was broken by Royce. Why does she agree to try out for a part in the play, Momma Mia?
A mixture of morbid curiosity and the confidence that he was the one who lost out. Aunt Ginny knows she’s a catch. Let him see what he’s missing.
When one of the seniors is found dead in the theater, only Poppy and the old biddies believe it was murder. I was surprised the local cops didn’t investigate more seriously. Why didn’t they?
The cops didn’t feel there was enough evidence to support a murder investigation.
There’s a wonderful scene you’ve created in which Gia and Poppy discuss Royce and Aunt Ginny, but it isn’t really about them, is it? Or are they discussing Momma Mia?
Hopefully readers will pick up the delicious subtext.
Georgiana drives a Maserati. Aunt Ginny has a Corvette. If they both have the money for those cars, why aren’t they helping Poppy pay the taxes and bills for the house?
Georgina has old money and her former daughter-in-law’s great aunt’s house isn’t her responsibility. Not to mention that Georgina doesn’t do anything unless it’s profitable for Georgina. Aunt Ginny has a gorgeous Corvette, the sale of which would not pay the property taxes for one year. Cape May is a very expensive place to live, and if you have the pleasure of owning one of the beautiful historic Victorians, you’d either have to be very wealthy or like cooking eggs for tourists.
What’s next for Poppy and the old biddies?
Their next adventure is Wine Tastings Are Murder, and it launches December of 2020. Poppy signs up to be an official tour stop and lodging for an organized Wine Tour. A tour guest dies - but no one knows how. Aunt Ginny gets an Alexa, Poppy makes a MAJOR decision, and someone brings a Pomeranian to stay at the “Pet Friendly” B&B.
Your madcap and intricate plots combined with biddie mayhem remind me of Jana DeLeon’s writing. Are you a fan of hers?
I’ve never read Jana DeLeon, but I will definitely check her out! I love hijinks. My favorite stories are full of humor, irony and sarcasm. I grew up on Carol Burnett, I Love Lucy, and Laverne and Shirley. They were a big influence on my writing. You’ll see a lot of their influence in the upcoming Wine Tastings Are Murder.
What is your secretary’s name, and does he resemble Figaro in character or demeanor?
This is my baby, Miles Davis. He crossed the rainbow bridge a couple of years ago and I miss him terribly. Miles is a seal point Himalayan. He looks nothing like Figaro who is a black smoke Persian, but just about everything Figaro has done came from Miles. The infamous flop belongs to this guy.