The pseudonym, Barbara Allan, is the name chosen by the husband-wife mystery team of Max Allan Collins and Barbara Collins. The Collins’ are residents of the quaint Mississippi River town of Muscatine, Iowa in my home state. Max is best known for the graphic novel, “Road to Perdition” and the movie tie-in novel, “Saving Private Ryan.”
The sleepy fictional river town of “Serenity” is the setting for the humorous “Trash ‘n’ Treasures Mystery” series around the antique theme. In “Antiques Disposal,” the zany mother-daughter-daughter/granddaughter combination of Vivian, Peggy Sue and Brandy Borne are out for some good stuff that they bought at the disposition auction of a storage rental unit. The vivacious Vivian keeps tabs on the owner of the storage rental facility and finds out what is worth bidding on before she puts her money in on an auction. Vivian buys the rights to a unit that contains a cornet and other memorabilia that allegedly once belonged to the great Quad Cities jazz musician, Bix Beiderbecke. Vivian wants to resell the horn at her booth at the antiques mall. When she and Brandy go back to the storage unit for her second load of treasures they find the storage facility owner dead inside the storage locker.
Vivian is unable to leave a good murder to the police to solve. She recruits Brandy to help her track down several suspects and others who may know something about the woman who owned the locker. It turns out, she was murdered also. That second death really brings out the sleuthing instincts for Vivian and she nearly gets her daughter, Peggy Sue, killed when the murderer comes after Vivian and her family.
The characters are memorable, the locations in Muscatine and the Quad Cities lend both atmosphere and (for me) some familiarity, and the banter back and forth between Vivian and every other character is highly entertaining. I’m ready to go back and read the rest of the series.