A penny saved is ridiculous.

A penny saved is ridiculous.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

No grim & gritty here

I mentioned the breezy, fun Antiques Roadkill (by Barbara Allan, on Kindle for $5.59) in passing in a previous post. Here's a longer look at this entertaining little mystery.

An entremely detailed review would probably do Antiques Roadkill a disservice, as the book clearly isn't meant to be scrutinized and analyzed, rather pleasantly enjoyed and passed to a friend... or, in my case, sent to the second Kindle on my account, so my wife can read it. In any event, Barbara Allan's first installment in her Trash & Treasures mystery series has all the elements any self-respecting cozy series needs. A cute heroine? Check. Quirky, eccentric, but ultimately likable supporting characters surrounding the heroine? Check. A picturesque small town setting? Check. A fascinating hobby or interest that's promoted by the characters and ties the whole book together? Check (in this case, it's antiques). Exasperated law enforcement officials who slowly lose patience for the heroine's amateur sleuthing efforts? Check. And finally, a credible mystery plot laced with enough danger to create adequate tension but not enough to torpedo the overall light, bouncy, tone of the story? Check.

In other words, Ms. Allan's Antiques Roadkill delivers everything fans of light, cozy mysteries expect, but does so in a fresh, invigorating way.

Okay, enough cute hedging about the book's authorship. Barbara Allan is, of course, the pen name for the husband-and-wife writing team of Max Allan Collins and Barbara Collins. I'm a big fan of Mr. Collins' solo mystery works, so I thought I'd try this collaboration out. It's not as tough or sexy as the stories Mr. Collins produces on his own, but then it's not supposed to be. What you get is banter, family craziness, a couple of tight spots, and yes, a cute pet (another cozy must). Nothing spectacular, but all fun. Though I don't know for sure, I suspect Mr. Collins' main contributions were the plot, fast pacing, and occasional dangerous situations, with Barbara Collins contributing the quirkiness, girlish banter, and neurotic internal monologues (as those elements don't often turn up in Mr. Collins' solo books).

If you're like me and dive into the occasional (or maybe more than occasional) lighter mystery as a change of pace from all the blood-and-guts mysteries and thrillers out there, you'll certainly enjoy Antiques Roadkill. I'm going to move on to the next book in the series before too long, and after reading this fun and feisty little tale, you'll probably want to, as well.

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