May 08, 2012

Silly sleuths turn trash into treasure

By Barbara Allan
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Antiques Disposal, a new entry in Barbara Allan’s Trash ‘n’ Treasures mystery series starring Brandy and Vivian Borne, is a high-spirited foray into the lives of this mother-daughter amateur sleuthing team, and it’s peopled with an assortment of eccentric characters and a slightly disheveled storyline.

When Brandy and her flamboyantly attired mother, Vivian, win a bid for the contents of an abandoned storage unit near town, they anticipate finding a treasure trove of items to add to their booth in the antiques mall in downtown Serenity, a midwestern town vaguely located on the Mississippi River. But besides finding a bunch of boxes and an old beat-up horn, they’re left with a dead body—that of Big Jim Bob, the owner of the storage facility. The cops investigate and pronounce it murder most foul.

Shortly after the unit’s contents are transferred to Brandy and Vivian’s domicile, an intruder breaks in, attacking Brandy’s sister, Peggy Sue (well, she’s not really Brandy’s sister, but never mind), leaving her unconscious, along with Brandy’s beloved shih tzu, Sushi, who’s lying in a heap near the door (never fear, she recovers nicely). The only item that’s missing from the newly acquired cache is the horn . . . but it turns out to be another horn that the intruder has grabbed by mistake, leaving the newer one safely in their possession.

Not content to leave the mystery to the police—and curious about the coincidence of Jim Bob’s demise and their break-in—the dynamic duo begin an investigation on their own. What’s so valuable about that horn? There are some clues among the unit’s contents, and mother and daughter not-so-discreetly begin to find answers as they track down the unit’s former owners. Brandy and Viv must sort out the pieces, extracting answers from a reluctant police chief and from questionable lawyers, greedy antiques dealers, folks from a nearby neighborhood and a group of town retirees calling themselves The Romeos. Turns out that horn may be well worth the trouble.

Long digressions by Vivian or Brandy may test the patience of some readers, but those who enjoy such asides will relish the verbal competition between mother and daughter, each of whom claims to have a handle on the story. This installment will be welcomed by fans of offbeat cozies everywhere.

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Antiques Disposal

Antiques Disposal

By Barbara Allan
ISBN 9780758263605

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