Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Antiques Disposal by "Barbara Allan" (Barbara Collins & Max Allan Collins)

In their sixth Trash 'n' Treasure mystery, Barbara Allan has come up with another winner.  Brandy Borne and her mother Vivian go to a storage unit auction and (with a small ploy by Vivian involving phony mouse droppings) win their bid on the unit's contents.  The storage company's owner, Big Jim Bob, had been romantically linked to Vivian back in the day,and had tipped her that the unit likely held something valuable.  What was so valuable? Who knows?  The contents of the unit were boxed and the unit could not be inspected before the "blind" auction.

     Since Brandy and Vivian are involved, it's clear that another murder will rock the small Iowa town of Serenity.  Sure enough, after transporting half of the unit's boxes to their home, they return to find the storage unit now empty.  Empty, that is, with the exception of a rolled up rug containing Big Jim Bob's body.  Let the madcap adventure begin!

     Followers of this series know what is in store.  Vivian on her medication is only slightly less outrageous than when she is off her meds.  She feels it is her duty to assist the police in their investigation; that is, when she doesn't feel it is the police's duty to assist her in her investigation.  Brandy tries to her mother medicated, safe, and out of jail.  Brandy's sister, who has moved in with the pair after her husband's death, continues to try to live her status-oriented life while continuing bickering with Brandy.  Brandi and her mother continue their own bickering.  Sushi -- Brandy's old, blind, diabetic shih tzu -- continues to express her displeasure by peeing on things.  Borne family secrets, revealed to us in earlier books, threatened to be revealed to the world.

     Along the way, the reader is treated to a bright, funny, and fast-moving mystery involving classic jazz, a disinherited black sheep, feuding antique dealers, a Vietnam era romance, an original (?) Siegel and Shuster Superman drawing, a historic home, a gay administrative assistant whom Vivian wants to fix up with a nice girl, a senatorial reelection, and a Nero Wolfe style reveal.  We are also treated to interesting and quirky background stories for a number of Serenity natives. 

     All good fun and well-played, with numerous paranthetical and italicized asides from Vivian, Brandi, and their ever-suffering book editor. 

     Another charmer from Mr. and Mrs. Collins...and more to come!

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