So needless to say Jane's delighted when a Saturday morning estate sale turns up a serendipitous find: a whole room packed full of 1950's saloon ephemera. As luck would have it, she's been planning to redecorate her parents' pub, still run and recently purchased outright by her folks. Piles of Bakelite darts and dice, countless advertisements from long-defunct liquor suppliers, and, most exciting of all, a bunch of old bar games, employed by untold patrons intent on whiling away the tedious moments in between the sips of so long ago. She makes a deal to buy the whole room, and can't wait to get the stuff back to her hometown.
As she's cataloging her find, however, Jane makes a gruesome discovery. Packed between the glassware and bowling trophies and old photographs she's already fallen in love with, she uncovers one highly personal, unusual and creepy collectible that she is sure the saloon keeper would have preferred to have kept to himself. It sure sparks her curiosity about the saloon owners, and when Jane gets curious nothing's going to stop her. Employing her friends Detective Bruce Oh and fellow junkhound Tim Lowry, as well as her erstwhile husband Charley, Jane sets out to lay bare the secrets of long ago, secrets that even people close to her would rather be kept quiet forever. Packed with as much intrigue and suspense as a long-buried chest in your grandmother's attic, Dead Guy's Stuff is a fantastic sophomore effort from acclaimed promising cozy writer Sharon Fiffer.
Before long she's addicted to the hunt, spending her Friday nights with the classified ads and a street map, outlining her weekend plan of attack. Jane knows that finding the real treasures is all about being in the right place at the right time.
But just as she's settling in to her new routine, Jane finds herself in just the wrong place and at quite the wrong time: stumbling over her neighbor Sandy's dead body. Soon she's the prime suspect. After all, everyone on the block seems to have seen her kissing Sandy's husband at a recent dinner party. Leaning on her best friend Tim, a flower shop owner and fellow junk hound, as well as Evanston police detective Bruce Oh, Jane has no choice but to hunt for the truth. Hopefully her knack for uncovering valuables in the least likely of places will extend to discovering clues as well. Like the vintage postcards, Bakelite buttons, and Fulper lamps that she dreams of finding, to Jane the truth just might be priceless.
Sharon Fiffer's mystery debut is a fabulously entertaining read and an intriguing puzzle featuring a heroine that's a dynamic mix of Miss Marple, Kinsey Millhone, and Leigh and Leslie Keno.
Not only does he have a mansion he needs help prepping for an estate sale, but he has unearthed an old play, a murder mystery, that he's dying to put on. The play would be just the thing to get Jane back on track—that is, if it weren't cursed. Thankfully, Tim isn't buying into any curse and pushes forward in spite of the ominous notes that keep showing up in the actors' scripts warning against a performance. It's only when the show's carpenter dies in a suspicious accident that Jane is convinced someone definitely doesn't want the show to go on and might be willing to kill to stop it.
Lively and intriguing as ever, Sharon Fiffer's Backstage Stuff is as much fun for the puzzling mystery as it is for sneak peek at all of the surprises that Jane has collected backstage for the big show.
When a school permission slip lost among the towering boxes in Jane's kitchen causes her son, Nick, to miss a field trip, Jane vows to get rid of it all, organizing her house and, in the process, she hopes, her life. Meanwhile, she's entertaining two offers of employment---as an associate with her friend Tim Lowry's antiques dealership and as a consultant in a private investigations firm with former police detective Bruce Oh. Unable to decide, Jane figures she'll take a crack at splitting her time between the two pursuits.
Immediately, and with fragile emotions swirling from her great house-cleaning project, Jane finds herself smack in the middle of a case that will draw on both her new jobs. An antiques dealer has been accused of murder, perhaps as part of covering up an extensive furniture-counterfeiting operation. Jane can hardly wait to investigate---that is, until she learns the identity of the accused: Claire Oh, wife of her new partner Bruce. Rich in the details of junk-sale ephemera that have intrigued fans of previous Jane Wheel adventures, The Wrong Stuff is another fascinating, meticulously crafted mystery.
Lucky Miller, a little-known comedian, is staging what he calls a comeback. It's all part of his plan to break into showbiz by making it seem like he's always been a big name. Suspicious of what Lucky's trying to prove and why he's chosen to prove it in Kankakee, Jane's mother, Nellie, hires Jane to investigate. But why does Nellie care? Lucky would sure like to know, so he, too, calls on Jane to find out. Still, Nellie may be the least of his problems when a driver on his crew turns up dead hours after claiming that Lucky tried to kill him.
With the charming and dogged Jane Wheel at the center of another clever puzzle, Lucky Stuff is an outstanding addition to Sharon Fiffer's popular series.
Read the action-packed 2nd novella (30,000 words) in the Secret Agent Granny mystery series.
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