Antiques Disposal (Trash 'n' Treasures Series #6)by Barbara Allan
Storage wars erupt when Brandy Borne and her suspiciously well-informed mother, Vivian, win an abandoned storage unit's "mystery" contents. The good news is a rare vintage cornet. The bad news is the recently stowed body of Big Jim Bob, Vivian's former tipster. Even worse, an intruder steals into the Borne home to mete out some ruff justice to Brandy's ferociously fluffy shih tzu, Sushi, while making off with the heirloom horn. When the sleuthing duo finds another stashed victim, the hunt is on for a corpse-hoarding killer who's trying to blow "Taps" for all concerned. . .
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"A humorous cozy that teems with quirky characters." --Booklist
Praise for Barbara Allan and the Trash ‘n' Treasures Mystery Series. . .
"One of the funniest cozy series going." --Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
"Brandy and her eccentric mother make a hilarious team of snoops." --Joan Hess
"Top pick! Thrills, laugh-out-loud moments and amazingly real relationships." --Romantic Times Book Reviews
"You'll laugh out loud." --Mystery Scene
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Antiques DisposalA Trash 'n' Treasures Mystery
By Barbara Allan
KENSINGTON BOOKSCopyright © 2012 Max Allan Collins and Barbara Collins
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMother Takes Auction!
My dearest ones! You are in luck, because I, Vivian Borne (aka Mother), am scripting this opening chapter. Normally this honor goes to my darling daughter Brandy, but due to the poor girl being down in the doldrums, I am taking necessary measures.
We simply must get this book off the ground to meet our publisher's deadline!
And I must thank those of you who have written in to say that you consider me the better writer. That, of course, is not mine to say, but I would admit—if pressed—that Brandy displays certain literary shortcomings. For one thing, she uses far too few exclamation points for emphasis! For another, she takes off on one pointless discursion after another.
And talk about malapropisms and foul paws—Andy Griffin, indeed! Despite the best efforts of our indefatigable editor and my humble self, we cannot seem to catch all her boo-boos and blunders. When I pointed out this embarrassing error in Antiques Flee Market, Brandy said, "So I confused Sheriff Taylor with a talk show host. No biggie." No biggie my patootie! That gaff insulted both Andy Griffith and Merv Griffin aficionados.
(Didn't you just love it when Merv would show off the lovely lining of his sport coat? But I digress.)
Of late Brandy had taken to her bed, heartbroken over the departure of the (most recent) love of her life, Chief of Police Tony Cassato, whose current location remains (as of this writing) unknown.
My contact at the PD, Mona the Mole (my code name for the female dispatcher, whose name isn't Mona, though she does have a mole) has hinted that Anthony C. may have disappeared into the Witness Protection Program. Prior to moving to Serenity, the chief had given testimony against the New Jersey mob, resulting in a recent attempt upon his life.
But our M.I.A. chief is not all that is bothering Brandy. I believe some of her trouble is postpartum depression; even though she was a surrogate mother, her body doesn't know that. (And I certainly couldn't be the cause of any melancholia!) And so, dear reader, I do hope you will cut her some slack if she seems a trifle short-tempered.
In our previous nonfiction accounts, Brandy has taken great care to bring you, our fan base, up to date with each subsequent missive, and this has become quite the tedious chore, for author and reader alike. Besides, recapping an ever-growing plot might discourage new readers by bogging them down in data not needed to understand the new narrative, even while burdening them with "spoilers" that might damage their enjoyment of earlier episodes.
After all, who really cares how we got from A to F? Anyone can jump on board the F train without first having taken the A train (a little jest for the over–sixty crowd). I have faith that our readers can absorb and retain past and present information provided along the way—they are mystery aficionados, after all!
As I have told Brandy time and again, these narratives would be well served by getting right into the story. Enough of this shilly-shallying! Of course, some small background is, I suppose necessary....
Sixteen months have passed since Brandy (divorced; age thirtyish) came home to live with me (widowed; age available on a need-to-know-basis) (you don't need to) with scant more than the designer clothes on her back and her little shih tzu, Sushi (blind; age sevenish).
Since then, an abundance of murder and mayhem has delivered itself upon the small Mississippi River town we call Serenity, which has resulted in much sorrow, misery, and tragedy. It's been simply exhilarating!
This particular autumn morning, however, was rainy and dreary, and I knew such gloomy weather would only encourage Brandy to remain under the covers unless I sprang into action (with as much spring as two hip replacements will allow, at any rate). Wearing my favorite pantsuit (emerald-green velour), I sailed into her bedroom.
"Rise and shine!" I said, clapping my hands, marching around the bed in full parade mode, wishing I had cymbals or perhaps a bass drum. "We have places to go, things to do, and people to see!"
Brandy, a tangle of blond hair protruding from beneath the leopard-print coverlet, muttered something. I couldn't be positive of what she said precisely, though it just might have been unkind. Since my ears were suffering a terrible wax build-up presently, I gave her the benefit of the doubt.
When Brandy failed to stir further, I grasped the edge of the cover and yanked it back, unveiling a snoozing Sushi, who lazily lifted her little head and aimed her white-clouded Exorcist orbs my way.
"You," I scolded, "are aiding and abetting," waggling a finger at the small brown and white fur ball.
Sushi pouted, but at least she didn't relower her head.
To Brandy, I announced, "Dear, are you aware that we have not sold a single item in our booth at the antiques mall this month?"
She said nothing.
"I will take that as a 'no,'" I said. "Well, dear, we need to find more merchandise ... otherwise, I don't know why we bother renting space."
She said nothing.
I said, "You know I rely on the extra money the booth brings, and now with your sister living with us, well, I'm starting to feel the pinch." And I was. A financial pinch nearly as painful as my too-tight girdle. (No SPANX for me—I'm an old-fashioned lass, like my stomach.)
As our longtime readers know, Peggy Sue (attention, you readers taking the F train!) is my older daughter, now in her very attractive early fifties, recently widowed and forced to move in with us, after discovering that her husband had bequeathed her a mountain of unexpected debt.
With a deep sigh, I delivered the clincher: "But I suppose we could take in a boarder, just to make ends meet. Naturally, of course, that will necessitate your sharing the bathroom—"
"I'm up! I'm up...."
"Very good, dear ... breakfast in half an hour. Plenty of time for a nice, long hot shower." At the door, I glanced back. "And slap on a little lipstick—you'll feel better!"
I'd seen that little homily on a placard in a gift shop, and its truth reverberates within me still. Why, I wouldn't consider going anywhere without first putting on Estée Lauder's lipstick ("Pink Passion"). Did you know that Estée built her whole cosmetic empire on a single shade of red? Just goes to show what a smart gal can accomplish! With a tube of lipstick, that is.
Down in the kitchen, I began to prepare our breakfast—cinnamon coffee cake, crisp bacon, scrambled eggs. This may sound fattening, but I had an eventful morning planned, and neither Brandy nor I could afford to run out of gas. (NOTE TO EDITOR: Perhaps you would prefer "steam"—"gas" in reference to a meal has an unfortunate resonance.)
Anyway, Brandy had become too thin as of late. As a Dane myself, I feel she should look like a Dane—a Danish strudel, that is!
With coffee cake baking in the oven, and bacon sizzling on the stove, I whisked together eggs, cream, and butter. Now, Nero Wolfe may insist that scrambled eggs are only worth eating if cooked slowly for forty-five minutes, but Vivian Borne didn't have that much time on her hands. Besides, I'm surprised that stout know-it-all could wait forty-five minutes for any meal....
Sushi, drawn by the aroma of bacon, slumber forgotten, was dancing at my feet.
"Oh, now you're friendly?" I chided. Forgiving the little doggie her earlier bad manners, I snapped off the end of a cooled bacon strip and handed it down to her. She might have been blind, but she had no trouble "seeing" food.
Outside, the dark sky growled, as if it, too, were a hungry dog, albeit a trifle bigger than Sushi. (NOTE TO BRANDY: Darling, notice the mood and wit provided by the occasional writerly metaphor.) (Or is that simile?)
While waiting for Brandy to appear—and to hasten our departure—I fed Sushi, making sure she had plenty of water (diabetic dogs drink a lot), then gave her a shot of the insulin needed to counteract her disease.
Finally Brandy materialized and sat herself down in the dining room at the Duncan Phyfe table that had been in my family since I'd been in diapers (and I don't mean Depends). Cheerful as Christmas, I served up our sumptuous breakfast on Royal Victoria china plates I'd snagged at a garage sale. (I'd gone extra early and had to rouse the residents out of bed; but I forgave them, first-time sellers who needed to learn that an 8 A.M. listing means 7 A.M. (Or 6 A.M., in my case.)
Brandy, freshly showered, her shoulder-length blonde hair sleek and squeaky-clean, was wearing a forest-green cardigan over a crisp white blouse, and tan slacks. (I couldn't see what was on her feet, as they were under the table, but most likely some designer shoes bought at a fraction of the retail price—that girl has a nose for a bargain ... also, longer arms than the next gal.)
Brandy has such a lovely, heart-shaped face—big brown eyes, small nose, high cheekbones, wide mouth—typical features courtesy of my Danish side of the family. But I suspect her nature must harken back to the Vikings—impetuous, head-strong, obstinate, and sometimes reckless. She certainly didn't get those characteristics from moi.
In addition, Brandy can often be defiant, as evidenced by the red lipstick she had clown-smeared on her mouth.
"You look so much better, dear ... almost human," I commented, ignoring her crimson lips.
"Thanks ... almost."
I cocked my head. "Have you had your Prozac this morning?"
Oddly, Brandy had felt the need for the depression-easing pills ever since coming back to live with me.
"Yes, Mother—have you had your Prolixin?"
"Why, of course, dear."
Unlike Brandy, I didn't really need my medication, but I took the bipolar drug, just to keep the peace.
Once upon a time, in the early seventies, I admit I might have been better off taking Prolixin ... such as when I mailed all our doorknobs to then-president Nixon. In my defense, Tricky Dick had expressed a fondness for Victorian hardware, and I was merely trying to support our leader in troubled times.
Then, after the Watergate fiasco, when I found out what a stinker Nixon had been, I wrote and asked for the doorknobs back; but the FBI insisted they'd never gotten to the president. So I asked, Where were they? And they said—
Oh, well, I suppose what they said isn't terribly pertinent to the tale at hand, which could go on for quite some time, and as I've told Brandy again and again, we need to get right into the narrative.
(Something wonderful, though, did come about from all of that tit-for-tat with the federal boys—they created an FBI file on me. Can you say as much?)
(I'll save the story about sending roller skates to Neil Armstrong for another time.) (I thought it might add zest to his next moon walk.)
I told Brandy, "You'll be glad to know that I have already fed Sushi and given the little darling her insulin."
Her eyes flared. "The correct dosage, I hope!"
"Yes, yes. I checked it twice."
Would the child ever let me live down the time the little doggie had that teensy-weensy seizure because I hadn't been wearing my glasses?
"So," I said cheerfully, "we are all of us, women and canine, well and truly medicated ... and ready for the new day."
Brandy looked pointedly at the empty chair opposite. "I notice you didn't blow your bugle and get Peggy Sue up."
"No, dear. She's utterly depressed ... whereas you're only mildly in the dumps. Besides, I don't need her this morning." I gave her the Uncle Sam pointing finger. "I need you."
"That sounds ominous...."
"Not at all, dear. We're just going off to—"
"See the wizard?" Brandy raised a palm like a traffic cop. "Please. I don't want to hear your plans for me—not on an empty stomach."
"Perhaps that's wise."
She took a big bite of scrambled eggs, chewed, then muttered, "These sure weren't cooked for forty-five minutes."
The child was clearly testing my patience.
And I was just about to launch into a lecture about feeling sorry for oneself—using the story about the man with no shoes who met a man with no feet (or was it a man with no gloves who met a man with no fingers?)—when I noticed (despite the smeary lipstick) Brandy's tiny upturned smile.
This signaled the end of her funk.
Brandy stabbed a hunk of coffee cake with her fork. "Okay—I'm ready for action. What's our mission? Where do we attack?"
"An auction, dear, at a storage facility. We'll be bidding for the contents of units in arrears of rental payment."
Brandy put down her fork and gave me a long unblinking stare, waiting for me to explain myself further.
So I said nothing. I know well, from my years of the theater, of the power of silence. That less is more. That running things into the ground gets you nowhere. At all.
Finally, Brandy said, "I don't want to go."
"Why ever not, dear?"
"Because that's despicable—taking advantage of people who couldn't pay their rent! The last thing people like us should be doing, with the kind of financial hassles we've had—that Peggy Sue has right now—is going out preying upon ..."
But she ran out of steam. Or maybe gas.
So I said, "I don't think it's at all despicable, dear. Why, we'll be giving someone's possessions a new lease on life! Possessions that would otherwise languish forgotten, left to rot and mold and face the fate of an evitable landfill. Think of Planet Earth! Besides, who's to say these folks couldn't pay the rent? Maybe they wished to abandon the contents."
"Why would they?"
I shrugged. "Some people simply don't want the items anymore, or they can't bring themselves to throw them away. Or perhaps moving to another locale, the expense of a rental truck or trailer is beyond their means. In any case, we are doing them a favor."
"A favor? I don't think so. This doesn't feel ... right."
Wherever did the child suddenly get such a conscience? Not from me. And certainly not the Vikings.
"My darling girl," I said, "most of the contents of these units are junk."
"Then—why bid on one?"
"Because," I said patiently, as if talking to a small child, "sometimes in all that trash? There's treasure to be found!"
A pause, and then a clap of thunder punctuated my point. If I'd known that thunderclap was coming, I might have added a nice Long John Silver "Matey!"
Brandy, looking at the rain beating against the window panes, whined, "But it's lousy outside."
"All the better! You know what they say—inclement weather today keeps bidders away!"
"Yeah, the smart ones."
Tiring of the child's negative attitude, I pushed back from the table. "You know, you need to consider, as you grow older, that those frown lines will become permanent."
She grinned broadly with her clowny lipstick emphasizing her sarcasm. "Better?"
"Ugggh! You look like Cesar Romero playing the Joker."
"I was going for Heath Ledger," Brandy sighed, then used her napkin to wipe the crimson color off her lips. "Okay. You win ... like that's a surprise. Let's go hunt for treasure in the trash."
Thunder cracked again. Matey.
"Now there's a good girl!" I enthused, standing, pushing farther away from the table. I ticked off on my fingers: "We'll need raincoats, umbrellas, and Wellies."
"And a rowboat."
But she was smiling. Looking not at all like Cesar Romero.
Okay, Brandy taking over.
In previous books I usually have allowed Mother to write only one chapter, appearing around halfway through, when it's a little late for readers to bail. So I apologize for subjecting you to her so early. On the other hand, some people get a kick out of her. Trust me—it's more fun to read about than to live through.
Excerpted from Antiques Disposal by Barbara Allan Copyright © 2012 by Max Allan Collins and Barbara Collins. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON BOOKS. 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.
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It is a funny cozy mystery. A delightful read. .
Reviewed by Lela Buchanan for Readers' Favorite When Big Jim Bob tells Vivian about an abandoned storage unit that is coming up for auction, he hints at possible treasures inside, piquing Vivian's interest and ensuring her pursuit of it. Besides being an antique buyer, Vivian has also earned a reputation as an amateur sleuth. With her daughter/granddaughter, Brandy, as an assistant, they successfully win the bid for the unit, using a bit of creative improvisational skill to deter other buyers. Chocolate sprinkles make realistic mouse droppings and who wants to clean up a massive mouse infestation? The unit does indeed hold a treasure, setting in motion a series of accidents to both human and canine, some of which are fatal, putting Vivian and Brandy right in the middle of a murder investigation--a position that stimulates Vivian like nothing else. Vivian is a colorful protagonist who thrives on intrigue and out-maneuvering her adversaries. There are so many twists and turns in this mystery, and so many potential perpetrators, that you will never deduce whodunit or why. If you are looking for a light-hearted mystery, with its heroine saturated with feminine charisma, look no further than "Antiques Disposal" by Barbara Allan. Filled with witty dialogue and catchy phrases the author takes you on a roller-coaster ride of suspense and misadventures that will keep you turning the pages. The story moves along briskly, adding miniscule pieces to the puzzle that will keep you guessing, before culminating in a surprising, but satisfactory conclusion.
4 STARS This is my first book of Trash to Treasure series I have read. I liked it but did not really connect to the characters. Sometimes it was charming. Sometimes silly. With two different writers made it interesting. I did not figure out who the killer was and why he did it. Vivian Borne is the mother-grandmother who buys the auction of a storage contents for her business. She has been a widow for decades. Had many men through the years. Her oldest daughter Peggy Sue just became a widow and found out that she was in debt and had to move back in with her mother. Brandy Borne was divorced and moved back with her mom-grandmother the last 2 years. I guess in a previous book found out that her sister was actually her mother and her father was now a Senator. She joins in business with her mom-grandmother selling stuff they find at a booth in antique mall. So Vivian and Brandy win the bid on the contents of a storage unit. Vivian cheated and made people think it was full of mice.(threw chocolate sprinkles around). They have 24 hrs to get contents moved. On the second trip to the storage unit they found the rest of the unit was stolen and owner dead body was left in it. When they finally get through with the police that night thier house was broke into. Peggy Sue was knocked out and Brandy's blind dog was kicked and stopped breathing. Thier old cornet was stolem from the music room. The cornet from the storage unit was in the garage. So why was the cornet stolen. This is the 5th book in the series and does stand alone but I think it would be better if you have read the previous books. I was given Antiques Disposal from Librarything and asked in return to give honest review. May 2012 PUB. Kensington Puboishing Corp 232 pages Authors Barbara Collins and Max Allan Collins
Antiques Disposal is a True Southern Cozy Antiques Disposal By Barbara Allan Copyright May 2012 Publisher Kensington Books Autumn has descended on Serenity, that quiet, cozy town nestled in the crook of the mighty Mississippi River—or, one might say, with crooks. For the rain and fog have also brought an undercurrent of chaos—and it’s not just because the fall colors clash alarmingly with Vivian Borne’s pantsuits. The only remedy is a trash ‘n’ treasures shopping spree. But the Bornes are about to get more than they bargained for… Brandy Borne and her suspiciously well-informed mother, Vivian, have the winning bid on an abandoned storage unit’s “mystery” contents, which they discover includes a vintage cornet. But when they arrive to claim the rest of their loot, the space is empty—except for the recently stowed body of Big Jim Bob, Vivian’s tipster—a.k.a. former flame. Only one thing is certain: someone has definitely put the “rage” in storage! Murder turns to mayhem when an intruder steals into the Borne home, tries to mete out some ruff justice to Brandy’s ferociously fluffy shih tzu, Sushi, and makes off with the cornet. But why is the horn worth killing for? Clues soon lead the sleuthing Borne duo to the next stashed victim—and some of Serenity’s juiciest secrets. Now Brandy and Mother will have to play a perilous game of cat-and-mouse droppings to catch the corpse-hoarding killer before it’s time to blow “Taps” for all concerned… Brandy’s mother, Vivian is ready to do the storage unit auctions. She’s got a hot tip on one from a former “flame” (who comes off as rather shifty)and rushes them out to get there early. After greeting Big Jim Bob, and checking in… they wait for the storage unit’s locks to be clipped and the assembled bidders to take turns inspecting it visually from outside the opened gate. Vivian, who thinks there is something valuable in the mix, bids it up. Surprisingly she is the winner and goes to pay her money and check out the unit. After packing Brandy’s big Buick with everything that would fit, they head home with their booty. After a short discussion Brandy has some lunch and then she and her sister rejoin Vivian to look at what they bought. In one of the boxes they find a Cornet (smaller then a trumpet) and Vivian decides that it is worth some money and has Brandy bring it out to lock in their garage storage area. That is the beginning of an adventure that leads to multiple deaths and problems for Brandy and Vivian. They have unwittingly been sucked into a plot that crosses state lines and involves secrets in places they never wanted to be searching. I love Brandy and Vivian’s adventures. Viv is a classic piece of work, and Brandy is the long suffering daughter. I thoroughly enjoyed this adventure and recommend it to all lovers of Southern Cozies. FTC FULL DISCLOSURE: I received the ARC of this book from the publisher, who only asked for a fair and impartial review.
very nice book..
"The Bornes Toot Their Own Horn” It has been a while since I read the first “Trash ‘n’ Treasures” mystery; “Antiques Roadkill”, and apparently, a lot has happened in the quaint village of Serenity. Brandy is now divorced from Roger, who has custody of their 12 yr. old son, Jake. She is re-energizing from being a surrogate Mother for friends unable to conceive due to cancer and is living in the newly-re-built Borne house (you’ll recall the old one was blown to smithereens in “Antiques Roadkill”) along with her sassy and demanding Mother/Grandmother Vivian and recently widowed Sister/Mother Peggy Sue. Completing the household is Brandy’s beloved blind puffball canine; Sushi. Vivian has rented space for her antiques business in the local mall and, needing new merchandise, decides to attend an auction at a local storage rental place owned by her old flame named “Big Jim Bob”. Vivian and Brandy bid in the one and only unit and transport a fraction of the boxes home. When the treasures are unwrapped and inspected they are now the owners of a 1946 drawing of Superman, a set of Havilland china , a bundle of letters and an old cornet, which will join the other musical instruments in Vivian’s collection. Assisted by Peggy Sue, they make the trek back to retrieve the remaining goods, only to find someone has broken into the unit and not only cleaned it out, but have killed “Big Jim Bob” as well. After answering some questions from the local police, they return home and decide on an early bedtime after all of the excitement. Silence is broken by screams and crashing. Brandy dashes to find Peggy Sue unconscious in a pool of blood and Sushi, injured and whimpering. The burglar had been interrupted in his quest for a mysterious item. After both Peggy Sue and Sushi are hospitalized, Vivian and Brandy take stock of the auction items, finding nothing missing--except another cornet from Vivian’s collection. The intruder didn’t know the auction instrument had been safely tucked away in the garage. The “Sometimes Sleuths” traveled to the address listed on the storage unit contract they found within the letters, only to sadly discover former unit owner, Anna Armstrong’s doorway in the soon-to-be bed and breakfast/museum festooned with crime tape. What did someone have against Anna? Did she have a connection to “Big Jim Bob”? What’s so important about the old cornet she once owned, you ask? It is discovered it once belonged to American Jazz Cornetist. Bix Beiderbecke..but was that enough for someone to commit murder twice? They meet Anna’s neighbor and future business partner, John Anderson and after Vivian cleverly palms the key to Anna’s apt. and John leaves for his class, the pair search the deceased’s belongings for clues. With every corner they turn, the list of suspects grows longer. Complicating things further is the arrival of Senator Edward Clark, the love of Peggy Sue’s life from years ago. Who killed “Big Jim Bob” and Anna Armstrong?? Waldo Hendricks; the unscrupulous antiques dealer with plans for a “Bix B.” museum of his own? Long, tall Texan, Travis Taylor; “Big Jim Bob’s” partner in crime? Maybe John Anderson; who was really in love with Anna? Or could it be estranged son, James Lawrence, or his wealthy, curmudgeon Father; Milton? The author(s) lead you on an enjoyable chase in this fast and easy read. I’m looking forward to the next “Borne Adventure” and I bet you will be too! Kensington ARC Nancy Narma
There are two versions of this book available. I thought that I was buying the next in the series. Only to find that I have already read this one. Beware!