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by Barbara Allan
Kensington, September 2007
288 pages
ISBN: 0758211937

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Brandy Borne is back in her hometown after her divorce, living with her over-the-top theatrical mother and trying to get her life back together. Meanwhile her ten-year-old son Jake is in Chicago with his father. He promises to visit when his school breaks, probably around Halloween.

When her mother's ex-best friend becomes director of the local theatrical group, much to her mother's chagrin, Brandy looks for something they both can do to keep them busy and out of trouble. They find some treasures at a police auction at low prices and they decide to open up a stall at the local antiques mall.

Then her son Jake decides to visit right away and she invites him to help her set up their stall at the mall the next day. Brandy wants to get him to open up to her about the divorce, hoping that Jake is trying to understand both sides of the reasons for it, even though Brandy herself doesn't really understand why things happened.

Unfortunately, very early on the opening day of their stall, Brandy and her mother discover the dead and bloody body of the woman, Mrs Norton, who was in charge of the antiques area. Mrs Norton had a pet pit bulldog that stayed with her in the mall and right away the poor dog becomes the prime suspect in her death, but Brandy is certain the dog isn't the guilty party.

As Brandy goes around town asking questions about the murder, she becomes aware that some strange men seem to be interested in her. Though she'd like to think that her attractiveness is making her popular, something awful happens that brings her world crashing down around her and shows her just how strong a woman she can be.

ANTIQUES MAUL is not really much of a murder mystery. Most of the book deals with Brandy and her mother and their relationship to each other and their rapport with the people in town. The murder doesn't occur until a long way into the book and even then it isn't the uppermost thing on everyone's mind.

The author of the book is husband-and-wife writing team of Max Allan and Barbara Collins. The writers do a great job in developing the characters. Vivian, the mother, is an outrageous but realistic outgoing mature older woman. Brandy is somewhat over the top, but because we know that she is on tranquilizers and is confused about why she acted the way she did which resulted in the end of her marriage, she comes off as a real woman too.

The overall slow and steady pace of the majority of the book is over-compensated with an energetic fast-paced, exciting final portion. All that did was highlight how slow the beginning and middle was and made the book even more unbalanced.

There are Trash 'n' Treasure tips at the end of each chapter, but I didn't see how the tips were of any real value.

ANTIQUES MAUL is not for readers who like good solid murder mysteries. This book is closer to chick lit books that are about the life of women coming back from a divorce. The murder mystery isn't the heart of the book.

Reviewed by A. L. Katz, November 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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