Brandy Borne and her dramatically ditzy mother, Vivian, are stars of the new reality show Antiques Sleuths. The season opens in a perfect location—a quaint old house echoing with the unsolved whispers of a sixty-year-old axe murder. But when the show's producer meets a similarly grisly end, Brandy and Mother must chop around for clues, axe the right questions, and get the edge on a murderer's mysterious motives. Otherwise our sharp-witted sleuths may face cancellation—on the cutting room floor!
“The characters, both primary and secondary, shine with brassy humor.”—Publishers Weekly
Don’t miss Brandy Borne's tips on antiques!
Praise for Barbara Allan and the Trash 'n' Treasures Mystery Series. . .
“Thrills, laugh-out-loud moments and amazingly real relationships.”—Romantic Times Book Reviews
“Brandy and her eccentric mother make a hilarious team of snoops.”—Joan Hess
“You'll laugh out loud.”—Mystery Scene
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A Trash 'n' Treasures Mystery
By Barbara Allan
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2013Max Allan Collins and Barbara Collins
All rights reserved.
Previously, in Antiques Knock-off ...
Idon't remember walking from the backyard, where I'd been working, to the front porch, to sit in the old rocker ... but I must have, because half an hour later I was still there, rocking listlessly, letting the cool fall breeze rustle my shoulder-length bleached-blond hair, when a huge silver Hummer pulled into the drive.
I wondered what kind of moron would own such a gas-guzzling monster these days, when my question was answered by the driver who jumped out.
My ex-husband, Roger.
What was he doing here, showing up unannounced, coming all the way from Chicago?
Wearing a navy jacket over a pale yellow shirt, and tan slacks, he hurried toward me, locks of his brown hair flying out of place, his normally placid features looking grim.
Immediately my adrenaline began to rush, and I flew down the porch steps to meet him, worried that something might have happened to our son.
"What is it?" I asked. "Jake?"
Out of breath, Roger asked, "Why haven't you answered your cell? I've called and called!"
Taken aback, I sputtered, "I ... I've been in the yard all morning and didn't have it with me—what's going on?"
"Is Jake here?"
His words came in a quavering burst. "I was afraid of that."
"Roger! Stop scaring me."
A deep sigh rose from his toes. "I think he's run away."
As confused as I was concerned, I asked, "Why would he do that? He seemed fine yesterday when I talked to him." Then I frowned, recalling what our conversation had been about. "Only, uh ..."
Roger gripped my arm. "Brandy, if you know something that might have motivated Jake taking off like this, you need to tell me now."
Removing his hand gently, I said, "Roger, you better come sit down. Of course, I'll tell you what I know...."
And turning, I led him toward the porch.
As we sat in matching rockers—like the married couple we'd be if I hadn't ruined everything—I told Roger of my recent discovery of my true parentage: that thirty years ago, my older sister Peggy Sue had conceived me with then-state representative Edward Clark, while she had been a summer intern on his campaign. And that the grandmother I still called "Mother" had raised me as her own.
Roger's shock morphed into irritation, his eyebrows trying to climb to his hairline. "And you thought this information should be shared in a phone call with an impressionable thirteen-year-old boy?"
I spread my hands. "There was no other way—with the senator's reelection campaign all over the news, my soap-opera parentage was going to be everywhere. I'm surprised you didn't hear about it."
He frowned, but his irritation had faded. "I've been away on business, pretty much constantly in meetings. When I got back, Jake was gone."
"Have you notified the police?"
Roger shook his head. "Hasn't been twenty-four hours yet. What a damn dumb rule! Don't they say that the more time that goes by, the colder the trail gets?"
I stiffened. "You don't think Jake has been kidnapped? Is that what you're saying?"
Roger certainly had the kind of money to warrant our son being that kind of target.
My ex leaned forward, rubbing his forehead. "No ... no ... I don't think there's much chance it's anything like that. There's been no phone call or note or any such thing."
"Then ... what do you think this is about?"
Roger took another deep breath. "Jake's been, well, a lot more of a handful than usual. Acting out at school and at home. All because lately he's been unhappy. He doesn't say so, but it's clear that's the problem. That's why I thought he might have come here. He's always been able to talk to you."
"What's he unhappy about, Roger?"
He shook his head. "Who knows what a boy of his age is thinking? School, friends, girls, he keeps it all inside. His grades are okay but his teachers complain about his attitude."
Suddenly I thought of someone who might know.
"I'm going to ask Mother when she last heard from Jake," I said, already on my feet. "You think he talks to me? He and his grandmother are thick as thieves, texting each other fast and furious."
Which she'd just mastered, after having a cell for five years.
He nodded his okay and I left my dejected ex on the porch while I headed inside.
Just under one minute later, I returned. "You should come in," I said, crooking a finger.
Roger followed me back in the house, and I led him into the dining room where Mother sat drinking a cup of coffee at the Duncan Phyfe table. She was wearing her favorite emerald-green pantsuit, her silver-gray hair neatly pinned in a bun, her magnified eyes behind the large glasses turned our way.
Next to her sat Jake.
He had on jeans and a gray sweatshirt with Chicago Bears logo, and held a can of Coke in one hand, while the other draped down, scratching the head of Rocky, the mixed-breed mutt (complete with black circle around one eye) that we had recently taken in.
Sushi—my blind, diabetic, brown-and-white shih tzu, the "child" I'd retained custody of after the divorce—sat a few feet away, her little mouth in a pout, apparently due to the attention Jake was giving the new-dog-on-the-block.
"Oh, hi, Dad," Jake said, layering on a matter-of-fact attitude that didn't fully mask his sheepishness.
For a moment Roger's anger trumped his relief, but only for a moment. Father ran to son, throwing his arms around the boy's shoulders, hugging him.
Roger quite naturally scolded Jake for disappearing; Jake just as naturally apologized to his father for scaring him; Mother came to the defense of her grandson; Rocky— a former police dog—growled at my ex for his threatening tone of voice; and Sushi started yapping, not to be left out. For a while, I was glad just to be an interested spectator.
But finally, to stop the commotion, I raised my voice. "Jake, how did you get here, anyway? And if you hitchhiked, please lie to me and say you took a bus."
The boy looked my way. "I really did take the bus. Then walked from downtown."
Mother said to me, "You were out back, dear, when he arrived, about forty minutes ago. You seemed to have a lot on your mind, and I didn't want to disturb you."
Before I could decide whether to shake her till her bridgework rattled or just kick her in the keister, Roger exploded, "Forty minutes!"
"Well, of course, that's an approximation...."
"And it didn't occur to you, Viv, to call me? You didn't think I'd be worried half to death?"
Mother lifted her eyebrows above the big glasses. "I would have gotten around to it, Roger dearest, but my immediate concern was that Jake was all right. Besides, talking to the boy, he indicates you've been away on business for several days, and called him only once."
"That isn't fair."
"Leaving him alone in that big house. Why, he might have had one of those wild rock 'n' roll parties you see in the movies! Dancing in his underpants and with nubile young things doing the boogaloo in bikinis around the backyard pool!"
"I wish," Jake said.
Roger's mouth was open, but words weren't coming out.
Leaning against the doorjamb, arms folded, I said quietly, "Let's not make a federal case out of it, Roger. Mother was dealing with things in her own inimitable fashion. Our son has been found, and he's fine."
Excerpted from Antiques Chop by Barbara Allan. Copyright © 2013 by Max Allan Collins and Barbara Collins. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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