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    Review of ANTIQUES ROADKILL by Barbara Allan (see their website)


    Kensington Books, August 2006

    With the breakup of her marriage (due to a one-night drunken mistake at a high school reunion), Brandy Borne and her blind Shih Tzu move back in with her mother--a woman who is colorful in the best of times and disturbed (and disturbing) when she's off her medication. During the last incident when she'd been off her medication, her mother had sold a lifetime's collection of antiques to an unscrupulous dealer for a few hundred dollars. Now Brandy has to figure out how to get her life back together, while attending the mother-daughter day at the red hat society, getting together with old friends (unfortunately including the woman whose husband was the other participant in the reunion mistake), and dealing with Brandy's much older (and painfully perfect) sister, Peggy Sue.

    After a name-calling fight with the antiques dealer at the red hat meeting, Brandy gets a late-night message to meet with him. Her mother picked up the message first and headed out (without a drivers license) running over the dealer. Abruptly, Brandy's life turns downward, with former friends turning away from her and with a repeated series of near-misses on Brandy's life.

    The author team writing as Barbara Allan combine some laugh-out-loud situations with antiques advice and small town sleuthing in a promising first mystery. Although Brandy comes off unsympathetically at first, with her not-especially regretful attitude toward her affair, her confrontational posture toward the dealer without giving him a chance to explain himself, and her hateful relationship with her sister, I found that she grew on me as the book continued--of course, putting her in near-death situations would have this effect. Allan does a good job managing the suspense level, mixing humor with dangerous situations and keeping the reader involved. A fast easy-to-read style helps as well.

    The town of Serenity, with its colorful population and its wealth of interesing buildings and people, adds to the story's interest.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 9/07/06

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