Thursday, April 26, 2012

Antiques Disposal: a Trash 'n' Treasures Mystery by Barbara Allan (Barbara Collins and Max Allan Collins)

Fans of Storage Wars, take note. Antiques Disposal, the sixth entry in the Trash 'n' Treasures cozy mystery series from author Barbara Allan (actually spouses Barbara Collins and Max Allan Collins) has heroines (or anti-heroines, depending on your take) Brandy and Vivian Borne bidding on a storage unit to stock their antique shop. There they discover both a cornet (that may have belonged to Bix Beiderbecke) and a corpse (that definitely belongs to Big Jim Bob, owner of the storage area and ex-flame of Vivian's).

If you're new to the antics of the mother-daughter dueling duo (as well as the authors' prevalent parenthetical asides — apparently the subject of much debate), you may wish to start with the first novel in the series, Antiques Roadkill, though the authors will catch you up satisfactorily in Antiques Disposal

Just be aware that facts presumed here were used as revelations in previous entries, so reading a later book may spoil the impact of earlier ones.  (The authors tackle this with admirable wit within the text.)

The Collinses as "Barbara Allan" produce another wacky, lightweight romp perfect for an evening's escapism, despite the Bornes' increasingly complex family tree.  This series is just pure fun, and the humor, though readers of more "hard-boiled" fiction might call it silly, is a treat. 

However breezy the novel feels, writing funny is actually quite difficult to pull off while keeping a tight rein on a murder-mystery plot.  The fact that this pair (the Collinses, not the Bornes) keep managing to pull this off while remaining happily married is a credit to them. 

(For those thinking that the authors are merely cashing in on a popular fad, looking into the history on Max Allan Collins's blog reveals that the first chapter and synopsis of Antiques Disposal were sent to the editor in June 2010, and Storage Wars debuted in December of that year.)

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