In my youth, as I was starting to read anything I could get my hands on, I devoured a lot of cozies. Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, Ruth Rendell, and the like. So many more that I can’t remember them all. Didn’t know they were called cozies either(I’m not sure when that title became in vogue to describe slice of the mystery field), I just liked them. In the intervening years, i got away from that type of tale as all my favorites were pretty much completed and any new ones I just left alone. Just to much out there to read.

I think I’ve found a new “author” to catch up on. Barbara Allan is, of course, Barbara Collins and her husband, Max, and ANTIQUES KNOCK-OFF is the latest entry in their Trash ‘N’ Treasures mystery series. When I started this one, I wasn’t sure whether i would like it, to be honest. I was needlessly worried.

As I got into this, the fifth in the series, the authors got up to speed fast. Brandy Borne lives in the Midwestern town of Borne with her eccentric Mother. Seven months pregnant, she’s the surrogate mother of her best friend and dates the Police chief on the sly. The pair buy and sell antiques and investigate murders on the side. And there’s the older “Sis,” who married up and seems at times embarrassed by her family. The bipolar Mother, who often avoids her meds, seems always in the middle of something or other and I quite often found myself grinning or laughing out loud at her antics.

When the town busybody, Connie Grimes, is found murdered, by Brandy, a knife sticking from her chest, Brandy wonders if she will be a suspect. You see, she has a restraining order against her taken out by Grimes because of a past shouting match. She’d gone by, at Grimes’ invitation, to try to smooth out an incident where Mother had shoved the woman in the clock repair shop over some “anonymous” letters sent by Grimes.

Things get really dicey, though, when the Police chief arrests Mother for the murder, her fingerprints having been found all over the knife handle. Mother had somewhat of a reputation around town, enthusiastically diving into all sorts of things sufficient to get her arrested now and then, so her fingerprints were on file.

Of course, the idea that Mother could murder anyone was ridiculous. However, there were those fingerprints. And of course, she immediately confesses and insists on forgoing trial.

Brandy sets out to find the real murderer and why Mother has confessed. There are plenty of suspects, no one really liked the woman it seems, to go around, and our heroine starts learning things which puts the woman in a worse light. never mind maybe widening the suspect pool to include more people than she thought.

Max Collins is offering free downloads of the first book in the series, ANTIQUES ROADKILL, and the first J. C. Harrow “Killer TV” novel, YOU CAN’T STOP ME, March first through the third, which is his birthday, at all e-book relailers. I have the Harrow novel and I may end up just buying the Trash ‘N’ treasure novel, as well as the others. But if yu’re not familiar with there writers’ work, these are a good place to start.

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