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For fortysomething Poppy McAllister, taking a stroll down memory lane in Cape May, New Jersey, isn’t just awkward—it’s deadly.
Newly widowed and stuck in a middle-aged funk, Poppy has been running on cookies, infomercials, and one-sided chats with her cat for months. There’s no way on earth she’s attending her twenty-five-year class reunion—especially after receiving a very bizarre letter from Barbie, the popular cheerleader who taunted her all through high school. At least, not until Poppy’s best friend practically drags her to the event . . .
Using the dreaded homecoming as an excuse to visit her eccentric Aunt Ginny, Poppy vows to leave Cape May with pride and Spanx intact. Too bad Barbie is still the queen of mean at the reunion. And worse, that her dead body is lying right in front of Poppy’s old locker. Singled out as the killer, it’s up to Poppy to confront her past and clear her name. But between protecting her aunt from disaster and tackling a gluten-free diet, can Poppy crack the case before she’s voted “Most Likely to Die” by the murderer?
Includes Seven Recipes from Poppy’s Kitchen!
About the Author
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 has worked as a stay at home mom, climbing the ranks to the coveted position of Grandma. She also dabbles in the position of Vice President of a technology company which mostly involves bossing other people around, making spreadsheets, and taking out the trash. She writes culinary cozy mysteries from her Northern Virginia office while trying to keep her cat Figaro off her keyboard. Most of her hobbies revolve around eating, and travel, and eating while traveling.
Read an Excerpt
I was being bullied by stationery. The note had arrived the day before by courier service — and it had to be a trap. I glared at it on the coffee table wondering if I dare open it. I pulled my knees up to my chest and hugged them to calm my shaky nerves.
The sender wasn't a mystery to me. We had hated each other for years. She was flaunting her wealth as usual. Expensive linen stationery, ebony embossed script addressed to Ms. Poppy McAllister (I hadn't been called that in ages) and a monogrammed B in silver filigree in the upper left corner.
I read the return address again:
Barbie Pomeroy Clark Pemberton Estates Cherry Hill, New Jersey
I didn't know whether to rip it into tiny pieces or set it on fire. Maybe both. I was older and wiser now and I wouldn't fall for her schemes anymore. After all these years, why Barbie would think I'd care about anything she had to say was beyond me. She has a lot of nerve, I'll give her that. I fought back the horrible memory of high school that had piggybacked in with Barbie's engraved audacity. "I don't know what lie she's selling, Fig, but I'm not buying."
Figaro blinked at me with his Oh, great. Here comes some drama look.
"Well, of course I believe people can change. Just not her."
Figaro jumped down and turned his back to me.
"Really, Fig, cats can be so judgmental sometimes."
All night the envelope had lain there, like the presence of a chainsaw- wielding serial killer in my house. I was tired of obsessing about it. I hadn't had a decent night's sleep in months what with all I'd been through. Of course, my addiction to infomercials might be partly to blame. If it could chop, roast, juice, store stuff, or be ShamWowed, I had it. At least the infomercials swallowed up the silence.
I'd never thought I could miss the sound of John's incessant snoring, like a 747 coming in for a landing, but during those endless nights while I lay on the sofa listening to shouting pitchmen, I knew I'd give anything to hear that sound again. I missed him. I missed the way his glasses sat crooked on the end of his nose and how he smelled like coffee and aftershave. I even missed tripping over his books all over the house. Every room had a narrative history or stuffy memoir lying somewhere. All those arguments over something so trivial and fleeting.
I dug into the couch cushion for the Pepperidge Farm bag I'd lost around three a.m.
Oatmeal cookies for breakfast. That sounds reasonable, I thought, and crammed one in. You know what these need? Chocolate fudge frosting. But I didn't think I could handle a grief-and-frosting hangover and Barbie. Beautiful, rich, successful, married-to-money Barbie.
So I suffered through plain cookies, flipped the envelope over so I wouldn't have to look at her name again, and changed the channel.
"Today we are making ... FISHHHH!" I giggled. Julia Child had to have been half lit during the taping of most of her shows. Still, she'd been one of my childhood idols along with that other influential kitchen icon — the Swedish Chef from The Muppet Show. I spent many a Saturday afternoon watching Julia cook and dreaming of the day I would be a fancy French chef.
The bar was set pretty low growing up in South Jersey in the '80s. Most of my role models worked as waitresses or chambermaids. The main goal was to lie on the beach all summer until your skin was leathery and crocodile-like, and to save up enough tip money to scrape by and survive through the off- season. You weren't popular if you weren't beautiful, and you weren't beautiful without a tan and bikini body.
So much for aspirations and goals.
My "old lady dress" with the cellulite-covering skirt-of-shame that wasn't fooling anyone was the railroad spike in the social coffin. Of course, my red hair and freckles gave me my superpower (which is the ability to burn under a table lamp) so the threat of looking like rock lobster kept me off the beach and in the free air-conditioning of the public library every summer throughout high school.
I drew the fat straw. So while the cool kids worked summer jobs lifeguarding and selling Italian water ice, I roamed the library shelves of Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy. These were my people. They understood me and they didn't judge. There had to be more to life than parties and popularity. At least that's what I told myself. So my summers were spent in conversation with dead authors. ("Oh Jane, really? Heathcliff said what?" "Leo, does every character have to have three names? I can't tell who's speaking.")
I had one goal in life. Get out of South Jersey and get as far away as possible. I vowed I would never go back. That's pretty much the only successful thing I'd ever done. And now this high school reunion fiasco had arrived to jeopardize all that.
I looked at the envelope again. It tried to suck me in. A furry nudge on my leg made me look down. Figaro had come back to apologize for his harsh dismissal of my cowardice — or maybe just to curl up next to me on the plush white sofa that had been my bed in recent months. I offered him a lick of my cookie. He sniffed it and politely refused. John would have taken a bite. ...
"This big house is too empty for just the two of us, Fig, but there is no way I'm giving Georgina the satisfaction of moving out."
The way Figaro's ears pinned against his head at the mention of the Wicked Witch, I could tell he agreed. Georgina was my mother-in-law. Or as Figaro and I called her, domineering overlord. She'd made my life miserable from day one. But then I wasn't exactly what she had been hoping for either. John was her baby and I ruined him.
He was the first genuine friend I made at William & Mary when I ran into him on the quad. Literally barreled into him with all the grace of a water buffalo. It was my freshman year and I was still following the map handed out at orientation. I was so engrossed in trying to find Psych 101 that I didn't see him sitting on the lawn. He was so engrossed in his paperback of Lord of the Rings, he never saw me coming.
He wasn't what you would call tall, dark, or handsome. He was more short and squatty. Your average geek before being a geek was fashionable. Stocky and muscular in a way that reminds you of a bulldog. With blue eyes and dark brown hair that curled at his neck. His dark-rimmed glasses coupled with his plaid shirt and faded blue jeans made him look more suited to the chess club than the football field.
I tripped over him and face-planted right in his lap. I was so mortified I started chattering nonsense like I do when I get nervous. Stuff about how I'm directionally challenged, and I really wanted to be a pastry chef not a psychologist, and I loved the relationship between Frodo and Samwise. When I ran out of steam, John was looking at me with wide eyes, his glasses askew on his nose from the impact of Hurricane Poppy. I realized my hand was still resting on his inner thigh and I promptly removed it. "I'm so sorry."
He straightened his glasses and said, "If you're looking for the psych wing you aren't even close. It's probably because your map is upside down. Come on, I'll take you there. My name's John, by the way."
From that moment on we were fast friends. He was like the big brother I never had. We talked about everything. Books, movies, school, family. He came from a very wealthy family with political ties on Capitol Hill. He was a grad student in his first year of law school and there was a lot of pressure on him to excel. I learned later that his family had been grooming him to run for the Senate one day. They never forgave me for destroying their plans.
John said I was the funniest girl he'd ever met, and before me he didn't know how to relax. We hung out as often as we could. John tutored me in calculus and I made chocolate crepes for him on my dorm hot plate. After a few weeks, I finally convinced him to let me go to a frat party. He didn't want me to be around "the debauchery" but I was insistent that I was a big girl and it was all part of the college experience. I don't think he attended many parties in his own fraternity because the other guys kept slapping him on the back and calling him "The Professor." He wanted to impress his "brothers" and I just didn't have any self-control, plain and simple. So we drank ourselves half blind and the next morning woke up in bed together under a blanket of shame. Things were awkward between us for a couple of weeks, but we finally came to the place where we admitted that we valued our friendship too much to let it be ruined by one mistake. I was never going to tell my fiancé, Tim. John was never going to tell anyone. After all, we weren't even sure anything had happened. Not really.
And then the morning sickness started. Peeing on that stick was the scariest thing I had ever done. I couldn't look at it so John was the first person to know we were having a baby together.
His mother was furious. She demanded that I get an abortion. She said I was trying to trap him and had ruined his career in politics. A career John never actually wanted, by the way. Many years later he told me that I had saved him from a life of misery, but first we had to go through hell from the fallout of our "blessed union."
Georgina was pushing me to deny any connection to John and protect her family from scrutiny in the public eye. She also said it was the only way I was ever going to get any support from them. If I publicly claimed the baby was John's, I would be on my own, a poor white trash single mom on government assistance, and their family would deny any connection to the baby. Nice.
John didn't take this treatment of me well. He told Georgina that if she ever threatened me or said one unkind word to me again, he would personally call the tabloids and ruin the family name. He intended to marry me and if she ever wanted to see her grandchild, she would treat me with respect. A part of me may have fallen in love with John that very day, but I didn't know it until much later.
"Oh yeah. I forgot about you for a minute." I was so lost in my thoughts. I resumed petting his majesty.
Sir Figaro Newton is my best friend in the world, now that John is ... gone. I couldn't bring myself to think the real word. Passed was the fill-in term.
Figaro is a black smoke Persian with a cotton candy coat; his fur is white with black tips, giving him a shaded, smoky-gray color. Little children are terrified of him because of his bright orange eyes. They think he looks like a Halloween cat but I think he's beautiful. We probably could have won ribbons in cat shows if he wasn't so ornery and uncooperative. He had a sixth sense and knew when I was sagging into a foul mood. Like now.
He flopped across me, as if he were a pillowcase and someone had just ripped the stuffing out. He either wanted to cheer me up or keep me alive until he grew thumbs and could work the can opener by himself.
Figaro was, in technical terms, "a little loopy-doopy." It could be disconcerting to have a sidekick who'd go completely limp and flop over like he'd just passed out. Sometimes with a stretch and a roll, sometimes with a thud as he hit the floor. It was his feline idea of performance art. He thinks it sends the message that he's not a threat and wants to be friends. Mostly it sends the message that he's crazy and could begin foaming at the mouth any minute. Many a child has run away from his famous death scene screaming, and left him lying there confused.
Just now he was staring at the envelope I was ignoring — then staring back at me. Envelope. Me. Envelope ...
"Stop that. I know I'm a chicken. Bwaaak! There. Happy? We need a distraction, Fig. Sitting here covered in cookie dust and wallowing in self-pity is starting to lose its appeal. You know what goes good with oatmeal cookies? Chocolate milk."
Figaro gave me a droll look.
"Fine, I'll get it myself." I shouldn't be talking to cats anyway. People will think I've lost my mind. "Are you listening to me, Figaro?"
Figaro buried his face under one smoky-gray paw. I brushed the crumbs off my Eeyore pajama pants, crumpled up the cookie bag, and headed to the fridge.
Leaving the envelope shouting "Coward!" at my back, I slippered my way into the kitchen and looked around the marble morgue. I hated this kitchen. Georgina had designed every inch of the steel and granite monstrosity to impress. Impress whom, I had no idea. Image was very important to John's mother, and he had promised it was easier to let her have her way. Then she'd leave us alone. Silly man. A kitchen is supposed to be the heart of the home. Well, this one matched that of its designer, cold as a dead fish.
Memories flooded back again. Good ones. John and I did have some fun in here. ... I loved to cook ("Clearly!" chuckled my reflection in the stainless- steel refrigerator door), and John loved to eat. He invited company over every weekend just to weasel some boeuf bourguignon or coq au vin out of the deal. He was always willing to help out with the prep work as my sous-chef. Mostly he just got in the way, but I enjoyed having him next to me.
Since he'd been gone these six months, I'd lived on Pop-Tarts and cookie dough. What was the point in cooking for one? Now any cooking I did took place in the microwave.
Take that, Georgina. Apparently, a pathetic, silent defiance was all I was capable of.
As I put my hand on the refrigerator door I found myself stared in the face by Georgina's event reminder, or as I called it, "The Summons." Georgina expected me to attend a black-tie charity gala in two weeks in John's honor. My mother-in-law firmly believed in hosting benefits for her cause of the month, as long as the press attended and she got lots of exposure in the news media. You know, "for the charity." Since Georgina was under the impression that she owned me from the moment I said "I do," I was required to be there in black taffeta and pearls, playing the "I'm-here-in-place-of-my-poor-dead- husband" card for extra media credit. Grief is good for donations. I was praying either for a house to fall on Georgina or the Rapture to take place. God's choice.
Really, I'm beyond pathetic. I could just say no.
But I never did.
Depressed and disgusted with myself, I got a glass of chocolate milk out of the fridge and added extra chocolate syrup to it. I still had enough dignity to not eat frosting for breakfast. But I did grab a bag of peanut butter cookies from the pantry (peanut butter is protein after all) and scuffed my way back to the living room.
Ousting Figaro from my spot, I changed the channel to the BBC. Nigella was at the open refrigerator, wearing her bathrobe, eating an entire cake with her bare hands. How long before that's me?
Figaro fixed me with a penetrating gaze. That's you since six months ago, Dumpling.
"I've got to get out of here."
The phone rang. I ignored it, hoping they would go away.
"Call from ... Montgomery ... Sawyer."
Audible caller ID is a wonderful invention. So is an answering machine set to screen out friends who have a guilt trip planned. Over the speaker I heard:
"Ohmygosh! Did you get it? Poppy, I know you're there. You never leave the house. Pick up! Pick up! Pick up!"
I was not answering, even for her. I didn't want to talk. I knew what she wanted and there was no way I was going back to New Jersey for a high school reunion. I'd rather have my eyes poked out with fondue forks.
I grabbed the phone. "Yeah, I got it but I'm not opening it because I don't believe for a minute that she means well. There's probably snake venom on the card."
Sawyer Montgomery had been my other best friend — Figaro read my thoughts and cocked one eyebrow — since she and I met halfway through the fifth grade. After my father died, my mother shuffled me off to live with Aunt Ginny, and checked herself into a nervous breakdown. Some sadist decided that my first day of school would be Valentine's Day. I'd gotten one Valentine addressed to "Extra" and a bucket of self-pity. And thanks to my mother's version of a Dorothy Hamill bowl cut, I looked like Moe from the Three Stooges. Everyone thought I was a boy. Sawyer and I became fast friends once I explained that I was indeed a girl and wearing a dress and not a plaid polyester kilt.
"It's gonna be a ton of fun seeing everyone again after all these years."
Sawyer was lighthearted, fun, and perky.
I was not. Especially when sleep-deprived.
Excerpted from "Class Reunions Are Murder"
Copyright © 2018 Lisa Schwartz.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Tons of humor. I particulrly liked two different stories runnng soothly to nearly simultaneous end. But between early referene to Jane and Heathcliff to late reference to her paying for the massage her aunt prepaid for, there were so many strange things that left me going "huh?" I would miss what I read for the next few pages and have to reread.
I love Poppy and love this new cozy mystery series! Poppy has been invited to her high school reunion and just isn't really sure she wants to delve into that life again. Tired of dealing with the mother of her recently deceased husband, realizing she should visit her aunt she hasn't seen in awhile and ultimately being convinced by her best friend Sawyer, Poppy decides to make the trek home and deal with the consequences later. Who knew part of the consequences would end up involving the murder during the reunion of one of the popular cheerleaders, with Poppy in the first suspect seat! Poppy's personality will make you constantly laugh out loud. I love the references to the 80's and anyone who mentions the Muppets is automatically loved by me! There is also a very positive underlying story line about becoming who are are after high school and being comfortable and accepted as who we are in the end, even when we are mean and judgmental towards ourselves, question our decisions and become people we didn't picture - we are all who we are meant to be and figure it out and life does go on after high school. I can't wait for the next release in this series so I can go back and see what happens to some of my new found favorite character "friends".
I like the main character a lot...very relatable. Great story line and characters...I already purchased book 2!
Premise of story was interesting, but execution left much to be desired. Main character is never detailed sufficiently to feel any warmth towards. Self deprecating comments by her about herself over the first third of the book were excessive and unnecessary. Very little details provided in story about her initial time after college graduation. Wacky aunt in story had more info provided about than main character, and most was simply poorly conceived and too ridiculous to even be anywhere near believable . Too much time also spent going from one theory of killer to another theory , back to old theory, etc, etc., and concept of main character conducting her own investigation also badly thought out and executed. I kept hoping book would improve as I read it, but that was not to be the case. Book was easily 100 pages too long, and I'm only glad that I only paid a sale price for it. In short, I cannot recommend this book as I did not find it well written nor conceived.
Poppy McAllister is coerced into attending her 25th high school reunion by her bestie even though she'd prefer to stay home with her cat, Figaro, and wallow in a Pepperidge Farm fueled pity party. She should've followed her instincts as her high school nemesis is found dead in front of Poppy's old locker at the reunion, and Poppy is the number one suspect! An absolute pleasure to read, Class Reunions are Murder follows Poppy as she goes home again to Cape May, New Jersey, and tries to discover whodunit before she gets locked up in the big house. A+++
Poppy McAllister has recently been widowed and she is having a hard time adjusting, spiraling downward in depression, hiding away in her house and eating carbs galore. Her best friend Sawyer convinces her to return to her home town for her 25th class reunion. On her arrival, she realizes that her Aunt Ginny is having some difficulties and taking care of those will need to be a priority while she is visiting. Poppy has received a special message from the girl who made her life miserable in high school - apparently, Barbie wants to make amends, But circumstances don't work in Poppy's favor but before the two can reconcile, Poppy finds Barbie dead in the hallway right by Poppy's old locker. Since Sawyer had been in a fight with Barbie right before the murder, Poppy feels the need to fid the murder and keep herself and Sawyer from landing in jail. My ladies group chose this book for our May read and the author was kind enough to attend our discussion. It was fascinating to hear about the writing process and learn how the entertaining characters came to life. Already have the next book in the series can't wait to see Poppy again.
If you graduated from high school in the late 80's like me, you will really appreciate a lot of things that Class Reunions are Murder has to offer. Libby Klein takes the reader on a nice journey down memory lane.....and there are TWO mysteries !! Class Reunions are Murder starts with you getting to know Poppy who is dealing with the death of her husband. All she wants to do is stay in her pj's, eat, sleep, and hang with her cat Figaro. Unfortunately her best friend Sawyer persuades her to go back home to attend their 25th year class reunion. As much as she doesn't want to go, she also doesn't want to let her friend down. Plus she will be going back to her childhood home and seeing her Aunt Ginny. As in a lot of schools, Poppy and Sawyer and their friends dealt with "bullying" and the head of the "bullying club" was Barbie and Barbie hasn't changed at all. So when Barbie is found dead with a pompom stuffed in her mouth at the reunion people aren't overly shocked. Unfortunately she was found in front of Poppy's locker by Poppy !! Even though the list of suspects is long, their old classmate, Amber, who is on the police force now only has eyes for Poppy. While Poppy tries to stay out of jail for a murder she did not commit, Aunt Ginny has a huge problem also. Aunt Ginny is trying to stay out of the nursing home !! An employee from the Department of Youth & Family Services has been coming around saying that they have received numerous complaints that Aunt Ginny is unfit to live alone. Aunt Ginny make be a number of things, but unfit is not one of them. Even though there is a lot going on in Class Reunions are Murder, Klein has the ability to keep the reader completely focused and so engrossed in the story that you feel like you are right there in New Jersey. You will instantly fall in love with Poppy and appreciate her strength and determination. I had an extremely hard time putting the book down and when I got to the end and both mysteries were solved, it was mind blowing..... But nothing could have prepared me for the way Klein ended the book....an ending with a HUGE opening.... I cannot wait until I get my hands on the next book in this series, Midnight Snacks are Murder, to see where things are heading for Poppy and Aunt Ginny..
Put on your seatbelts, and a crash helmet, because CLASS REUNIONS ARE MURDER is a fast paced, high speed ride of a story. Before I had a chance to read this book, I had friends messengering me telling me I had to put it to the top of my TBR. I started it with high hopes and was not disappointed. Page after page I was laughing so hard I was crying. It took me forever to write this review because the only word that kept coming to mind was laughtastic. While it is accurate description for so many parts of this tale, it just doesn’t do justice to the mystery aspect of CLASS REUNIONS ARE MURDER. This outstanding whodunit had an entire high school class of suspects, and with a victim like Barbie Pomeroy Clark, it could have been any one of them. The author did a great job in introducing a lot of characters at once but keeping everyone and everything clear for her readers. Though I did manage to narrow down the list of suspects, I never did nor never would have guessed who did it or why. A giant kudos to the author for showcasing a truly relatable protagonist. I felt a true connection to series lead, Poppy McAlister. I was a lot like her in school, and now. It felt good to be able to relate in so many ways. But as much as I loved Poppy, my favorite character in this story was Poppy’s Aunt Ginny. She’s such a riot! Oh, the fun I would have had with an aunt like her! I can’t wait for the next installment to spend more time with these ladies. Make sure to check out the recipes at the back of the book. You’ll find some great Paleo dishes! An excellent mystery, that was just plain fun to read, CLASS REUNIONS ARE MURDER is now on my list of favorite cozies for 2018.
I love love LOVE this book!!! Poppy is a fabulous, very relatable character. Her voice jumps off the page. I want to be Aunt Ginny when I grow up! The mystery was fast-paced and kept me guessing till the end. But even without the mystery, there were so many things I loved about this book. I loved the body positive message of the book. I loved how so many of the characters never got over all the drama of high school. And I wanted to eat everything Poppy made! (And I can, thanks to the recipes!)
This, the first book in the Poppy McAllister series, was a five star read for me. Maybe even 6. I loved Poppy’s continual inner monologue. I loved the way I could actually relate to her. I loved the way she learned to believe in herself. I loved Fig! It was refreshing to have a cat in a cozy series who was so completely self-absorbed and cat-like. A well-thought-out mystery to top it all off kept me engrossed enough to finish this book in a single sitting. If you enjoy a clever, humorous mystery with a loveable protagonist that you just want good things to happen to, go get yourself a copy of Class Reunions Are Murder. You will not be disappointed.
Dollycas’s Thoughts This was a fresh, fun, and very entertaining read! Poppy McAllister has been dealing with the grief of her husband’s death. She hardly leaves her house and is in no hurry do so. She and her cat are just fine. Then she receives an invite to her class reunion including a letter from Barbie, one of the popular crowd of which Poppy was never ever part of. She has no desire to attend but her best friend begs her to come. “Friday afternoon dawned bright and early and my alarm clock let out a loud meow, letting me know I had overslept and his belly was a quart low.” Poppy really does need to visit her Aunt Ginny so she packs herself and her cat Figaro “Fig” in the car and heads to Cape May. What could go wrong? She arrives at the reunion and Barbie is in rare form, insulting almost everyone she sees. When Poppy finds her dead body and right in front of her old locker she is found guilty by her peers even before the investigation even begins. She can’t leave town, plus she has to help her aunt out of a huge mess, so she might as well work to find the real killer. I loved this book! Poppy is a great protagonist. I identified with her on so many levels. Her Aunt Ginny is a spitfire too, so I know where Poppy gets it. Both women are dealing with personal crisis’ in addition to trying to catch a killer. I have also fallen hard for Fig. They all cracked me up several times. The plot really has two mysteries, Barbie’s murder and Aunt Ginny’s fight to remain in her home. They flow nicely side by side and together. The murder has so many suspects, almost anyone at the reunion could have put the cheerleader out of their misery. Ginny’s problem is puzzling because someone has decided she is unable to care for herself and Poppy, a murder suspect, is not viewed as a good guardian. Both mysteries are complex, I had a hint as to what was happening to Ginny because something similar happened to someone I know. Barbie’s murder was a doozy to solve and I was completely surprised when the killer was revealed. I also enjoyed the fact that a high school boyfriend was still sweet on Poppy and a handsome barista was interested in her too. I am looking forward to seeing which of these romances Poppy pursues in the future. Everything about this book appealed to me. I love it when stories make me laugh out loud and the characters seem like people I would want to be friends with. Ms. Klein has written a superb story and scores my first Paradise Rating, (deserves more than 5 stars) of 2018. Midnight Snacks Are Murder comes out July 31 and I already have it scheduled on my reading calendar!
Class Reunions are Murder is a debut novel from Libby Klein. The book opens with middle aged Poppy McAllister a hot mess. She is grieving the loss of her husband (understandable) and dealing with a difficult mother-in-law (who objects to Poppy spending any of her inheritance). Poppy has been eating donuts, fudge, cookies, brownies and other sweet (unhealthy but delicious) treats for the last six months (gained 60 pounds). She spends her days in workout/yoga clothes that are ill fitting and stained while watching cooking shows (and talking to Figaro). The last thing she wants to do is return to Cape May, New Jersey for her high school reunion (I do not blame her). Circumstances (and a conversation with an inmate while she was in the local jail) in Cape May force Poppy out of her funk. There is a murder (she is being railroaded by an angry police officer), a social services worker is trying to force Aunt Ginny into an assisted living facility, a holistic doctor puts her on the Paleo diet and suggests Poppy try yoga, and none of her clothes fit her. Aunt Ginny is a lively, eccentric and lonely woman. I believe she has missed having family nearby and that is why her home has been neglected. There are two love interests for Poppy (which I found odd since she is still grieving her husband). The handsome barista, Giampaolo and her old high school boyfriend, Tim. The mystery was interesting with several suspects (her high school class had a number of mean girls). The clues are sprinkled throughout the book to aid readers in identifying the culprit. Poppy does not take to sleuthing right off, but gets better as the story progresses. She is fortunate to have help from her friends and Aunt Ginny. I believe many readers can relate to high school drama with the bullying mean girls, the jocks and good friends. I like the point the author made about perception. Every story has two sides with each person having a different perspective. The various storylines were nicely wrapped up at the end of the book. I did find a repetition of information (a common problem lately in cozy mysteries), and I felt the book was a too long (407 pages). A little editing would have enhanced the story. Class Reunions are Murder is a light, humorous cozy mystery that will have readers chuckling through the whole book.
Class Reunions Are Murder is the first book in the A Poppy McAllister Mystery series. When Poppy gets an invitation to her 25th class reunion she has no desire to attend and have to see Poppy and Amber, the high school bullies. Poppy has recently lost her husband, John, and is grieving his loss and facing depressions as the pounds keep increasing. She also wants to avoid seeing Tim, who she was engaged to high school and they went their separate ways and she ended up pregnant and married John. But her BFF from their high school days, Sawyer, finally convinces her to come. When she arrives in Cape May, NJ at her Aunt Ginny’s house, she is shocked to see the house and yard in a state of disrepair. Poppy soon learns that Social Services is trying to get Aunt Ginny in a senior citizen. Community. Aunt Ginny sets Poppy up with a holistic doctor that is able to get her to think more of herself and how much better it will be when she starts to think positive about herself. On the evening of reunion, it quickly becomes apparent that Barbie has not changed and was insulting everyone there. Evidently, someone had had enough of her cutting remarks, cause when Poppy went to look for Sawyer after she had an altercation with Barbie, Poppy finds Barbie lying in front of Poppy’s old locker, dead. The first person to arrive after Poppy had screamed was none other than Amber, who is now a police officer and Poppy has bypassed person of interest and went straight to prime suspect and is sure she will be railroaded straight to the “big house”. With the help of Sawyer and her Aunt Ginny, they begin there own investigation into who the killer might be and soon find that there is no shortage of suspects. This is a good start to an interesting new series, with a well-told story and an interesting cast of characters. I felt that Poppy spent a little too much time talking to her cat, Figaro, and answering for him, but, I guess, it also helped to develop her character in this first book. There’s also a delicious recipe also included in the book.
Class Reunions are Murder is the debut book in the Poppy McAllister Mystery series. What an enjoyable book! It’s full of humor, nostalgia and sass! What I enjoyed most about this book is how relatable the characters are written. Poppy isn’t perfect, but she is perfectly likable. As the book begins Poppy is stuck in a middle-age funk, but all that is about to change once she sets off for her hometown to attend a class reunion and catch up with her eccentric Aunt Ginny. Poppy’s high school arch-nemesis also shows up at the reunion….but she doesn’t make it out alive. Poppy becomes a prime suspect and she has no choice but to go about clearing her name all while looking out for her quirky aunt. This book is interesting. It’s light, it’s novel, it’s engaging and it’s a refreshing read! I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley. This did not affect my rating. I have provided an unbiased and honest review. ` Shelly9677.
Murderous Welcome Back to High School There are supposed to be two kinds of people who look back at high school – those who look back at it as the best time of their life, and those who look back with thanks that it is behind them. I actually don’t know any of the first group, but for the rest of us, there is Class Reunions are Murder, the fun first mystery in the new Poppy McAllister Mysteries by Libby Klein. Poppy wasn’t planning to attend her 25th high school reunion. The recent widow is still trying to recover from her loss, but a mysterious note from Barbie, the most popular girl in high school, coupled with pleas from her friends brings her back to New Jersey. And the reunion goes about as well as Poppy expects it to. While she’s happy to see her friends again, she sees that many people in her class haven’t changed, including Barbie and her click. After a particularly nasty run in with Barbie, Poppy steps out into the hall to find Barbie dead outside Poppy’s old locker. With the case being investigated by one of Barbie’s friends who has it in for her, Poppy realizes she needs to clear her name herself. But with the wake of enemies Barbie left behind her, can Poppy find the killer? The pacing in the book is a little off, especially in the beginning as we get Poppy’s background early on. However, once we meet Barbie things pick up, and there are some good twists after the murder takes place. I didn’t have the killer pegged, but the solution made perfect sense. A sub-plot involving Poppy’s great aunt Tilly adds a nice touch to the book. And speaking of Aunt Tilly, she is a hoot! There are a lot of laughs in this book, and many of them come from her. She is eccentric and perfectly lovable. Poppy and Aunt Tilly are the strongest of the main characters. The rest are good, but there is definitely room for them to grow as the series progresses, and I look forward to getting to know them better. Poppy’s background adds a serious touch to the comedy in the book, and the two are balanced perfectly. Barbie was not a nice woman when she was alive, and we get a glimpse of that before she is murdered. Naturally, that means there are a lot of suspects. It was a bit of work at first keeping them all straight but as the book progressed I was able to remember who all of them were. One of the sub-plots of the book involves Poppy changing her diet, and that is reflected in the recipes in the back of the book. We get several recipes, and they are all Paleo recipes. Several of them combine for enchiladas, and then there is a recipe for strawberry vanilla muffins Class Reunions are Murder is a promising series debut. It’s light and fun with a more serious side to ground it. I’m looking forward to visiting Poppy again. NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.
Class Reunions Are Murder by Libby Klein was an entertaining introduction into this new cozy series. Poppy McAllister is an older heroine with several issues going on in her life. She has been depressed due to her husband's death and her treatment by her bully mother-in-law. Aunt Ginny is a fabulous supporting character and I loved getting to know her. Poppy's best friend, Sawyer, is also a likable character that I enjoyed getting to know. I found the retrospective of high school episodes of bullying by the "mean girls" was turned on it's head at the end of the book. The mystery itself was complex as there were so many suspects who had motives. I cheered for Poppy as she began to take her life back and find the real killer. The plot was smoothly paced, there were plenty of twists, interesting information about making healthy choices for a better life and the reveal was intense. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book from Kensington via NetGalley. All of the above opinions are my own.
New cozy author Libby Klein blasts back to the past in her debut mystery “Class Reunions Are Murder”. I loved the sassy, wise-cracking, plus-size protagonist, Poppy McAllister as she braves her 25 year class reunion to confront the (still) mean girls, and manages to pull out all the stops to keep a conniving social services worker from sending her Aunt Ginny to an assisted living home. The plot is fresh and fun! Poppy keeps the dialogue snapping with her wit and ‘I got grit’ personality. I was charmed by the handsome barista, Gia, who charms Poppy, who is a widow. Aunt Ginny is a hoot! The pacing is rapid, the mystery’s really good, and the murderer list is composed of Poppy’s old classmates names. You’ll be flipping pages and laughing out loud reading this story! Ms. Klein is an author to watch. I look forward to the next adventure with Poppy and her Aunt Ginny. The author also includes delicious recipes for readers to enjoy.