Monday, March 27, 2017

Antiques Frame -- Barbara Allan

Barbara Allan, as we all know, is the husband-and-wife writing team of Barbara and Max Allan Collins, and Antiques Frame is the latest entry about their antiques-dealing sleuths, the mother-and-daughter (sort of; it's complicated) team of Vivian and Brandy Borne.

Readers of earlier books in the series will recall that Vivian and Brandy have, in addition to their antiques business, a reality TV series.  The first season's a success, though the ratings are tailing off.  That's not good news, and the even worse news is that Camilla Cassuto, the wife of police chief Tony Cassuto, Brandy's main squeeze (it's complicated), has come to town, opened her own antiques store, and started appearing at every auction being filmed for the reality series, where she consistently outbids Vivian and Brandy for the items they want.

And then Camilla is murdered.  Brandy's prints are on the murder weapon.  There's a perfectly logical reason why, but soon Brandy finds herself in jail with a Top Dog she helped put there earlier.  

The books in this series are told mostly from Brandy's first-person point of view, with Vivian being allowed limited participation (one chapter), but this time, because of the circumstances, Vivian gets more space, which suits her just fine.  Me, too.

Once again the Collins team puts together a fast-moving and frequently hilarious mystery concoction that's not as cozy as you might think it's going to be.  The solution is particularly satisfying and twisty, and I really enjoyed the two surprises that Vivian announces at the very of the novel.  They have nothing to do with the mystery, but they do indicate an intriguing direction for the next book in the series, one that I look forward to with eager anticipation.


Caroline Clemmons said...

Now I'm intrigued and will have to try this series. My daughter and I had an antiques business several years ago. We kept the best items. Needless to say, we were not the best businesswomen ever. If we ever win Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes, we'll go into business again until that's gone.

Unknown said...

My advice: Start with the first book in the series.

Max Allan Collins said...

Thanks, Bill, from both Barbara and Allan.

This was the book where Barb's draft was mostly written in my hospital room, and mine back at home as the first book I worked on when I got my right hand back in near working order. I would have settled for it being in English, and that people are finding it funny and in line with the rest of the series is a big bonus.