Antiques Maul (Trash 'n' Treasures Series #2)

( 30 )


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"Charming . . . a laugh-out-loud funny mystery." --Romantic Times (4 stars)

Halloween may be a time of treats, but for Brandy Borne, there's nothing trickier than keeping her batty mom out of mischief. Opening a booth at the Serenity antiques mall seems like a frightfully sensible solution--until a corpse turns up between the cornucopia and the candy corn. Local law scares up a suspect in the victim's dog, Brad Pit Bull. But ...

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Antiques Maul

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Reprinted Edition

"Charming . . . a laugh-out-loud funny mystery." --Romantic Times (4 stars)

Halloween may be a time of treats, but for Brandy Borne, there's nothing trickier than keeping her batty mom out of mischief. Opening a booth at the Serenity antiques mall seems like a frightfully sensible solution--until a corpse turns up between the cornucopia and the candy corn. Local law scares up a suspect in the victim's dog, Brad Pit Bull. But Brandy and Mother see through the killer's clever canine masquerade. Their mission: unmask a murderer--before the witching hour comes, and he mauls again.

Don't Miss Brandy Borne's Tips On Antiques–And A New Recipe!

Praise for Barbara Allan and the Trash 'n' Treasures Mystery Series. . .

"A humorous cozy that teems with quirky characters." --Booklist

"A sure-fire winner." --Publishers Weekly

"One of the funniest cozy series going." --Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

"You'll laugh out loud." --Mystery Scene

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this jumbled sequel to Antiques Roadkill(2006), Allan (the pseudonymous husband-and-wife writing team of Max Allan and Barbara Collins) burdens a simple whodunit with too much sentimental ornament. Recent divorcée Brandy Borne has her hands full with her aging, scatterbrained mother, Vivian, who has just announced her retirement from local theater. To keep Vivian busy and generate some cash, Brandy suggests they open a stall in the new antiques mall in their small Midwestern town of Serenity. Then the two women find a retired schoolteacher dead at the mall, apparently killed by her pit bull. Vivian insists the woman was murdered, but the official investigation comes up empty. Brandy and Vivian also detect a bit, but to little practical effect, eventually stumbling on the solution by chance. Brandy's rambling narration and Vivian's dotty escapades may not hold the attention of hardcore mystery fans, but antiques addicts will enjoy the "trash 'n' treasures" tips. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
A theatrical mother and a clothes-obsessed daughter combine their talents to solve a murder. Recently divorced Brandy Borne (Antiques Roadkill, 2006, etc.) and her blind Shih Tzu have moved back to charming Serenity, on the banks of the Mississippi, leaving her son Jake with her ex. Concerned with her mother Vivian's mental health since she lost her directing job with the local theater group to her former friend Bernice, Brandy suggests they rent a booth at a new antiques mall. At a federal auction, they pick up some bargains for their booth, including a rolltop desk very popular among bidders, to add to the items they have at home, including a cigar-store Indian from Bernice that she begs to buy back. When they're ready to set up their booth, they even get some help from Jake, who's visiting on a school break. The mall is run by Brandy's former teacher Mrs. Norton and her pit bull guard dog, a timid creature named Brad. Brandy and Vivian are shocked when they discover Mrs. Morton apparently mauled to death by Brad. Convinced of Brad's innocence, Brandy sets out to prove it. There's not nearly enough Prozac to keep her out of trouble as she struggles to control her madcap mother's wild ways in their hunt for a killer. A facetious farrago of fluff that tells you more than you really want to know about shopping.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780758285447
  • Publisher: Kensington
  • Publication date: 9/3/2013
  • Series: Trash 'n' Treasures Series, #2
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 573,954
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 4.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

BARBARA ALLAN is the joint pseudonym of acclaimed short story writer Barbara Collins (Too Many Tomcats) and New York Times bestselling mystery novelist Max Allan Collins (Road to Perdition). Their previous collaborations have included one son, a short story collection, and three novels. They live in Iowa in a house filled with trash and treasures.
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Read an Excerpt

Antiques Maul

A Trash 'n' Treasures Mystery
By Max Allan Collins Barbara Collins


Copyright © 2007 Max Allan Collins and Barbara Collins
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7582-1193-4

Chapter One

Them's the Rakes

With me toting the box of collectibles, Mother and I entered the unlocked back door and stepped into the darkness of the antiques mall. We had set up our booth yesterday and were here, bright and early, to do some pricing on the various treasures and trash we were foisting upon an unsuspecting public.

I moved to an electric panel on the wall nearby and began switching switches, illuminating the large room, section by section. When I turned back to Mother, she was heading up the center aisle toward the front of the store.

Soon I was hurrying after her and then, as I rounded the row, bumped full-force into Mother, who had doubled back, knocking the wind out of both of us.

"Dear, please," she said gasping for breath, "please don't ..."

"Don't what?"

"Don't look. It's horrible. Simply grotesque."

Despite her agitated state, and the melodramatic words, Mother seemed atypically untheatrical.

Now, I ask you ... if somebody tells you not to look, especially if it's "horrible," and "simply grotesque," what is any reasonable person going to do?


Not only are you going to look, but you have to look, you must look....

Murder wasn't the beginning. The beginning was on a lovely afternoon, not long before. Autumn in Serenity is my favorite time of the year, and this particular autumn was living up to all my expectations.

The trees lining the streets and dotting yards are at their most brilliant-leaves of scarlet, orange, and golden yellow, shimmering in the warm afternoon sunlight. We were in the throes of a glorious Indian summer, yet the nights were cool enough to wear the new fall fashions (specifically, a recently purchased bronze leather jacket from Bernardo).

Still, fall has its inherently melancholy side, a bittersweet, contemplative time-mulling what might have been ... and then the realization that, given a second chance, you'd probably do the same dumb things all over again....

After ten years of marriage, I was recently divorced (my bad), and had come home to live with my seventy-plus-year-old mother in the small midwestern town on the banks of the Mississippi River where I'd grown up. I had brought with me my share of the spoils of the marriage: Sushi, a white and brown shih tzu, who was spoiled. Roger had custody of ten-year-old Jacob back in Chicago, also spoiled.

Some might think that our newly formed household unit made quite the dysfunctional family ... Mother bipolar, Sushi blind with diabetes, me zoned out on antidepressants. But I think we functioned just fine ... as long as we all took our medication.

On my return to Serenity several months ago, we'd become unexpectedly involved in a couple of juicy local murders and performed what my mother insisted on describing as "amateur sleuthing." On this fall day, thoughts of that remarkable set of experiences were among my contemplations, sure; but I figured that adventure was a one-shot.

I had no idea, on that crisp autumn afternoon, that a sequel was looming....

Dressed in a brown Juicy Couture hoodie and Blue Cult jeans, orange Puma running shoes, my honey-blonde hair in a ponytail, I leaned on my rake, inhaling deeply, taking in the crisp, clean, humidity-free air, then exhaling with a self-satisfied sigh. Slacking on the job, I listened to the tuneless high-pitched song of the cicada bugs while watching an ever-growing number of birds perched on an electrical wire argue over who was going to lead them south for the winter.

Robin chirped, "I have seniority, so I'm most qualified."

"Hell you say!" Bluebird retorted. "You got us lost over Arkansas last year, remember? Practically got sucked into that jet's nether regions!"

Swallow interjected, "Well, I'm not flying all the way to Capistrano again. That about busted my feathers! I thought my darn wings would fall off.... Cancún is far enough."

Blackbird scoffed, "It's still hurricane season down there, you dolt.... You wanna get blown into raven munchies?"

Crow crowed, "Think I'll fly to Miami, then catch a steamer across the Atlantic to Europe. Heard those Italian birds are swee-eeet...."

Swallow was saying, "Hey, Robin! What's the matter? Suddenly you don't look so good...."

"Yeah," Robin answered, "I don't feel so good either. Maybe I'm gettin' that bird flu that's been going around."


"Let me outta here!"

"Been nice knowin' ya!"

And the fine-feathered friends scattered in a flap of wings.

Here I thought my life was stressful.

Sushi, stretched out lazily under a nearby oak, lifted her small furry head and yapped at me, as if to say, "Get back to work!" While Sushi couldn't see, she could hear my inactivity.

"Yeth, Maaath-tur," I said in my best Midnight Movie manner, and proceeded to corral some sneaky leaves with my rake, foiling their escape on a lucky puff of wind.

A gray squirrel (meaner than their brown cousins) decided to come down from its nest at the tippy-top of the oak. The squirrel planted itself a short distance from Sushi and-thinking the little fur ball no threat-began to taunt her.

"Na-na-na-na-na-na," the squirrel chattered, dancing back and forth just out of Sushi's reach.

"I wouldn't go there," I warned.

Sushi sat up slowly, resting on her back legs, head tilted to one side.

The taunter danced closer.


With lightning speed, Sushi struck at the source of the noise; as the startled squirrel whirled to retreat, the canine caught that long bushy tail with her little sharp teeth and clamped.

The squirrel screeched (wouldn't you?) and I commanded, "Let him go, Soosh."

She reluctantly obeyed, and the squirrel scurried back up the tree to its nest-a little bit wiser, I think.

Mother-wearing a voluminous blue caftan and one of her large red hats to protect her delicate Danish skin from the rays of the sun-made a typically grand entrance (even though, technically, it was an exit) as she floated down the front porch steps, one part apparition, one part aberration.

"My goodness," she asked, "what's all the ruckus?" Her eyes, already magnified by her large thick glasses, were owl-wide.

I told her.

Mother gazed up, waggling a finger in the squirrel's general direction. "You'd better spend more time gathering acorns and not picking on a poor defenseless little doggie."

Soosh looked toward Mother's voice with a cocked head.

Then Mother added upward, "The winter of your discontent is coming, you know!"

The squirrel said nothing; he was just a bit player in Mother's production.

"Brandy," Mother said, eyes narrow yet huge, "how does a nice glass of chilled apple cider sound?"

I despise cider. "Great!"

I was not trying to make Mother feel better. I was merely willing to take any excuse to forestall further raking. Already I had a blister going between my right thumb and forefinger. Besides, the wind was picking up and all the leaves would blow into the neighbors' yards if I could just be patient.

I leaned the rake against the tree, retrieved Sushi, and followed Mother up the wide steps, across the expansive porch, and inside.

Some months ago, I had tried to talk Mother into building a ranch-style house after our old three-story stucco had been destroyed (which is another story) (available at your favorite bookseller's), pointing out that in the days to come she might find the steps a hardship.

Mother flatly refused.

"A ranch-style?" Mother screeched. "Here? On this property? Why, that would be committing architectural blasphemy!"

"Huh?" I asked. Okay, I'm not quite as articulate as Mother.

Mother gazed at me with haughty sympathy and benign contempt, as if I had a can of spaghetti on my face and was using the meatballs for brains.

"Because, my dear girl, that style would not complement the array of structures along our street."

"Array of structures-other houses, you mean."

Mother puffed up. "Why, a single-story home among these two- and three-stories would look like a ... a stumpy, filed-off tooth next to the other teeth in the block's bright, shining smile."

I didn't point out that the logical extension of her metaphorical spiel indicated that many other teeth in that "bright, shining smile" could stand some veneers or capping, or even a few Crest bleach-strips.

But Mother was on a roll. "And as for climbing the stairs when the distant day arrives that I am indeed old and gray ..."

She was old and gray! Indeed!

"... should the effort take me half an hour to accomplish, what then? What else would I have to do?"

For a romantic, Mother could be awfully pragmatic.

The new house-a virtual replica of the original three-story one-went up in record time. I asked around and found the fastest and best builders, hired them, and unleashed my secret weapon: Mother hanging around the construction site, driving the contractors crazy.

You'd have been done in six weeks, too. Maybe five.

I trailed Mother into the house and on through to the kitchen-the only room that had been modified and modernized from the old blueprints-and put Sushi down, watching her find her way to the water dish.

Mother, getting the apple cider out of the fridge, asked, "Brandy, darling, when can I expect these clothes to come down?"

She was referring to a new pair of Citizens of Humanity jeans, a plaid L.A.M.B. jacket, and a tight Theory pencil skirt (all a size smaller than I had on), which were hanging on various cabinet doors, blocking the way to forbidden foods.

"Five more pounds from now," I said.

"Good," she sighed. "Because it's most inconvenient to get into the cupboards."

"Which," I said, "is the point."

Mother continued: "And last night I came downstairs for a glass of warm milk, turned on the kitchen light, and nearly fainted from fright! Why, in my sleep-addled state, I thought we had burglars!"

Albeit chic, female ones. Standing on the kitchen counter.

"Although, Brandy, I must admit, this new diet method of yours does seem to be working."

I beamed. "Good! Then you can tell I've lost some weight?"

Mother frowned, as if my question had been a non sequitur. "Not you, dear, me ... I've shed ten pounds."

Here I'd dropped only a measly three.

Bottom line on dieting: After age thirty (which I had just reached) the only way to lose weight is to go through a divorce (not recommended) or finally get around to having your impacted wisdom teeth taken out.

To drop the poundage, and keep it off, you must make a "lifestyle" change: i.e., You can no longer eat as you used to. And the sooner you get that through your thick skull (and thicker waistband) the better.

Here's what I do now (besides hanging too-tight clothes over Temptation's Portal): I eat what I want, but only half portions. Get it? Half a steak, half a baked potato, half a roll, half a piece of pumpkin pie with half a dollop of whipped cream ...


I pushed Mother aside and lurched for the blue-jeans-covered cabinet that contained the sweets.

"Brandy, no!" Mother said, in that firm voice I'd heard a thousand times; she raised a properly scolding finger. "Stick to your guns."

"Just half a cookie!" I pleaded.

After all, I knew she didn't care about my weight. She just wanted me to lose poundage so she could have her precious kitchen cupboards unblocked.

Mother patted my arm. "Come now, dear ... drink your apple cider ... that will fill you up. Let's go out on the porch."

I scowled ...

... but followed her.

We sat in white wicker chairs, our drinks resting on a matching wicker table between us. Sushi trotted over and got up on her hind legs to sniff at what we were having. No fool, she turned up her little wet nose, then found a pool of warm sunshine on the porch floor to settle down in.

I broached a touchy subject with Mother. "Have they decided who's going to be the next permanent director of the Community Theater Playhouse?"

"Permanent" directors at the playhouse came and went.

Mother-after a lifetime of performing on the stage, and decades as Serenity's Community Theater doyenne-had begun to direct a play now and then, and had thrown her red hat into the ring of contenders.

Mr. Manley had been the director for several years until he ran off recently with the Serenity Symphony's lady bassoon player in the middle of the run of South Pacific (rumor had it they went to the South Pacific) (nothing like a dame) (nothing in the world), leaving their respective spouses adrift. Not to mention a big hole in the wind section.

Mother's sky-blue eyes turned cloudy gray. She said softly, "I'm afraid Bernice Wiley got the position."

"Oh. I'm sorry, I know how much you wanted it...." We lapsed into silence.

I didn't know much about Bernice. She and Mother formed a friendship after the flamboyant woman had moved to town a few years ago. Of course, from time to time, during our weekly phone calls, I would hear Mother mention Bernice this, and Bernice that. Mother always spoke highly of the woman and their common interests-a mutual love of antiques and the theater-but I still got the feeling that the two had an adversarial side to their relationship.

Perhaps this was because their personalities were so much alike-maybe too much....

The tension between them had become more evident this summer, during a production of Arsenic and Old Lace, in which Mother and Bernice performed the leading roles of the two murdering old ladies.

I attended a performance and thought Mother was wonderful-she really is excellent, for a local-theater performer, in her over-the-top way. I'd complimented her but also made the mistake of confessing that, for some reason, I couldn't seem to keep my eyes off Bernice.

Mother practically spat, "That's because that scene-stealing shitheel kept upstaging me!"

Since swearing was not generally Mother's style (though when it was, "shit" always played a leading role), I knew I'd struck a sore nerve.

"How so?"

"Oh, Brandy," Mother said, and looked to the sky for support, "how can you be so naive?"

"Hey, I'm not an expert on theater techniques. I haven't been in a play since the third grade." "Yes, and if your little drawers hadn't fallen to your ankles, you'd have gone on to explore your full potential as an artiste, I know."

"Thanks, Mother."

She gestured regally. "Even so, didn't you notice that every time I had a line, La Grand Dame Bernice would scratch her nose, or twitch her rear, so that the audience's attention would be diverted to her?"

"Oh." Not a very sporting thing for a so-called friend to do.

I took a sip of my cider, which was better than leaf raking (just), and said cheerfully, "You're in the next play, though-what is it again ... ?"

"Harvey," Mother said glumly. "And no, I'm not in it." "Why in heavens not?" The play was one of her favorites, or anyway the James Stewart movie version was. Mother sneered. "Because Bernice didn't cast me in the role of Elwood P. Dowd's sister ... that's why! She cast herself!" Mother swiveled toward me in her chair. "I ask you, who other than moi is as qualified to play the part of a scatterbrained neurotic old lady?"

I said, "No argument."

"Thank you! And who could best perform the scene where the sister, by mistake, is committed to the insane asylum?"

"That would be you, again."

"Of course!" Mother said. "But Bernice offered me the part of the busybody friend-with only one little scene and hardly any lines-a role I can not relate to at all!"

There I could not go; Mother is listed under "Gossip" in the Serenity Yellow Pages, or anyway should be.

Instead, I asked, "So ... what are you going to do?"

She responded, "I already have. This morning. I quit."

"The play, you mean?"

"No, dear. The the-a-tuh!"

This was dire, drastic news, indeed.

"Oh, now, Mother," I cajoled. "Don't be so hasty.... Anyway, didn't you always say there were no small roles, just small performers?"

"Then let them go find some small performers! Because the Serenity theatrical scene has seen the last of Vivian Borne!"

Trying not to get tripped up over her "scene" and "seen," I said consolingly, "Surely there'll be other roles...."

"No," Mother announced defiantly. "I'll find something else to do with my time and talents."


Excerpted from Antiques Maul by Max Allan Collins Barbara Collins Copyright © 2007 by Max Allan Collins and Barbara Collins. Excerpted by permission.
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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 30 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 30 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2007

    Attention 'cosy' mystery Fans

    This is the second book from 'Barbara Allan' about Brandy Borne and her mother. Otherwise known as 'those Borne girls' to local police. I love this series. The characters (and there are many)are interesting and funny. There is also two dogs, Brandy's blind 'Sushi' and a pit bull, 'Brad'. (Brad Pitt Bull) There is a murder, kidnapping, new romance, crazy mother, (when she's not on her meds) overbearing older sister, best girl friend, many locals, all interesting and shopping and antiqueing. The book's a treat for all 'cosy' mystery lovers. Can't wait for #3.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2012

    Very enjoyable

    I really liked this story and can't believe it was a freebie! I guess this strategy worked because now I'm hooked and I just purchased the next book in the series. This book is current and witty (often corny but in a fun way) and the ending was not predictable. The authors throw in some red herrings to keep you guessing. Great cozy mystery!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2012

    Wonderful series!!!! Lots of Laughter!!!!

    I am on book #5 of this series. I have really enjoyed these books. I love how the authors draw you in.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2012

    Where is the mystery?

    I like the characters in this series, but this book was very short on mystery. The book focused on characters and not enough on plot. I like it enough that i will give the next book a try. If you are a serious mystery fan, you may not be happy with this book. Funny, but not as madcap as the first.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2012

    Great book!

    I really loved reading this book! For me, it was a perfect blend of humor and mystery. The characters are eccentric but not so far off the wall that you don't see yourself or others you know in the personalities of the characters. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

    There were a few conversion/typographical errors in this book, which prevented me from giving it a 5 star rating. The errors were minor and didn't ruin my enjoyment of the book. I am very picky about errors in the books I read- obviously the authors and publishers need to hire better proof readers and not rely on technology to produce an error free book.

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  • Posted April 11, 2012

    Fun, Intriguing Mystery

    I read this book as a "light" break between a couple of heavies and it did not dissapoint. The characters were likeable (though neurotic and occasionally annoying) and the mystery was intriguing. I laughed out loud on several occasions and the plot kept me guessing. It might not rank up there with the finest of literature, but I did enjoy it and will look for more from this author.

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  • Posted April 11, 2012

    Super fun weekend read

    A delightful dysfunctional family that just happens to fall into murder mysteries. Characters bring fun and surprise to what could otherwise be another predictable mystery. It even has a town map so you can really feel like you're in the town helping figure out who done it..... Definitely will read the rest of the series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2012


    Dull and predictable.

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  • Posted March 31, 2012

    fun series

    These books are quick reads, and I've decided to read the entire series.
    The main characters are a bit quirky, but so far the books are well- written with interesting plot lines.

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  • Posted March 25, 2012

    Fabulous title

    Loved the lighthearted mystery. It was fun to read and I really liked the characters.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2012

    Enjoyed very much

    A fun read. I will be reading other books in this series.

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  • Posted March 23, 2012

    Fun Read

    This a fun read for someone who enjoys uncomplicatd mysteries.

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  • Posted March 23, 2012

    Good Book

    Very good and funny.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2014

    Fun cozy

    Good series

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2012


    Ennjoyed very much. Several lol passages.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2012


    Haven't quite finished the book yet, but am finding it a bit tedious. The story-line seems okay, but the author injects far too many asides and breaks in the plot for my taste. I suppose these are meant to be cute or funny, but (imho) they fall short and act only as fillers that detract from the story. I will finish the book, but seriously doubt that I would ever buy any others in this series or by this author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2011

    good book

    A good read. The mother is a nut and sometimes the daughter is just as bad. Very funny stories!

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a reviewer

    Small town living in Serenity, Iowa is anything but dull for divorcee Brandy Bonne. After her marriage breaks up, she went home to live with her quirky and eccentric mother Vivian and her dog Sushi who she got custody of in the settlement. Her husband has custody of their son Jake who rightly blames her for the divorce. Both Brandy and her mother are seeing psychiatrists to get the murders that kept them on edge out of their systems and to deal with their other problems. After solving one homicide, Brandy doesn¿t want to play amateur sleuth again but her mother wouldn¿t mind being in the middle of such a situation again. When her mother¿s good friend gets the director¿s position in the community theater that Vivian wanted, Brandy persuades her mother to open up a stall in the antiques mall. When they arrive there one day, they find the woman in charge dead and the victim¿s pet bull covered in blood it looks like the dog killed her, but Vivian is positive she was murdered by a human. Brandy is afraid mom will try to prove her theory. --- The second Trash `n Treasure mystery is a delightfully charming cozy that keeps readers interested in the storyline because of the protagonists, Brandy and Vivian. Their witty repartee and Brady¿s attempt to keep her mother under control will have the audience laughing out loud. There aren¿t any viable suspects in ANTIQUES MAUL so readers will wonder if the dog actually did the deed. Barbara Allen is a terrific storyteller who knows how to grab and keep reader interest. --- Harriet Klausner

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    Posted March 26, 2012

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    Posted July 8, 2011

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