Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What I Read This Weekend

What I Read This Weekend . . .

Antiques Roadkill by Barbara Allan -- Contemporary Mystery

Brandy Borne is heading home to the small town in Missouri where she grew up. She's starting her life over again after an indiscretion at her high school reunion caused her to lose her marriage and her son. She claimed her beloved Shi Tsu Sushi, popped her Prozac and went home to Mother. Mother, actress Vivian Borne is the town's most eccentric citizen. Vivian loves drama and theatrics and sticking her nose into other peoples' business. During a low moment, an unscrupulous antiques dealer cheated her out of her beloved family heirlooms. Brandy is determined to get some of those memories back, but is she mad enough to kill? Bandy accidentally runs over the antiques dealer with her car, but she's certain he was already dead. Her mother was last seen at the scene of the crime, also running over the man. Brandy is positive her mother is innocent and is eager to prove it, much to the dismay of the police department. The Borne ladies snooping gets them in over their heads and in hot water with the cops. Can they solve the crime and prove their innocence before the police or the murderer get them first? I really wanted to like this story. I can relate to moving back home with eccentric parents, but I didn't like Brandy. She's everything I'm not and everything I can't stand: fashion obsessed, image conscious and really really annoying. Her mother is even worse. I just didn't like either of the women in the story. Vivian is over the top and irritating. She annoys everyone she meets, including me. The secondary characters are all two-dimensional and stereotypical. None of them really stand out in any way. The plot was OK. I figured it out at the same time Brandy did and suspected a lot earlier. There are a number of inconsistencies regarding Brandy's age. She's supposed to be 29 and recently celebrated her 10 year high school reunion. It also says she was born when Peggy Sue was a senior in high school. (Peggy Sue is a baby boomer born supposedly in 1957 when the song was popular.) That wouldn't make Brandy old enough to have been in community college during Desert Storm which was 1990-1991, when Brandy was in high school. The inconsistency really bothered me, especially since the time line is important to one character's story. Sushi doesn't play a large enough role in this story. She's largely neglected and appears to advance the plot once in awhile, but she doesn't get to play detective.  The writing isn't very good. It lacks witty dialogue and appealing characters. Overall, this story reads like Stephanie Plum light. and I would recommend the first 10 Plum novels over this one.

Antiques Flee Market (Trash and Treasures Mystery 3) by Barbara Allan -- Contemporary Mystery

The Borne women are searching for bargains to resell so they can make some cash when Vivian interrupts a sale at another seller's booth. Walter Yeager, an old friend of Vivian's, is nearly cheated while trying to sell an antique copy of Tarzan and the Apes. Then someone runs off with another dealer's money and it appears that Walter's long lost granddaughter Chaz knows him. When Walter ends up dead, Chaz is the number one suspect. For some reason the Borne women believe Chaz is innocent and Vivian thinks she can solve the mystery. Brandy's boyfriend, the handsome cop Brian, is not amused by Vivian's meddling but the police chief seems to have a soft spot for Brandy. Vivian decides a little matchmaking may be in order to distract the chief from her interference. Meanwhile, Brandy's friend Tina is going through a tough time and Brandy may make a monumental decision that will affect both of their lives. There's also a little matter of a family secret to confront and Brandy has to decide if and when she'll do it. This mystery is even worse than the first. I figured out who the murderer was when Vivian confronted them. Their motive doesn't make a lot of sense and I just didn't see that coming at all. Vivian manages to be even more irritating since she insists on her own chapters. She goes on and on about pointless things that have no relevance to the plot whatsoever. I skimmed her first chapter because it just seemed like filler. I figured out the family secret in the first book in the series. It was fairly obvious and I wasn't surprised Brandy put the clues together, only surprised it took her so long. Again there are inconsistencies about Brandy's age. Joe is the only character I liked and I appreciated Brandy's friendship with him, but she's just not old enough to have been in community college with him (unless she was taking classes at 14). There are some parts of the book that made me chuckle but they really weren't that funny. I've read much better cozy mysteries and won't be reading any more of this series. 

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