Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Scary Stuff

Author:  Sharon Fiffer
Genre:  Mystery

3 Stars
Jane Wheel is an "antique picker."  She finds old stuff for people who want them and will pay lots of money to have them.  She does this part-time, the other part being an associate to an ex-cop-turned-private detective, Bruce Oh.
While visiting her brother Michael for the first time in years, she finds out from him that people have him confused with someone who looks exactly like him - well, almost.  And that people think he conned them with selling fake stuff.  And are willing to do him some harm because of it.  And that the real con man, whoever he is, lives very close to Jane herself.  So, she has decided that when she goes back home, she will locate the duplicate and tell him to stop selling junk.
Only it doesn't work out that way.  While trying to find out who the con man, Honest Joe, really is, she finds out a lot of other things.  Things about her family that she never knew.  Relatives her mother, Nellie, never told her about.  And someone is willing to kill to make sure that she never finds out the truth.  So, while Jane and her friend Tim prepare a friend's home for a sale, they notice things just Aren't What They Are Supposed to Be.  And things only go downhill from there.
This book started out okay, but I just really couldn't get all that interested in it.  Jane is supposed to be an "antique picker," as I stated, but I think the better term would be "hoarder."  They do television shows about people like her.  People who keep safety pins because "they're pretty."  People who collect old dog dishes.  People who have floor-to-ceiling boxes of junk.  Which are junk, since she doesn't do anything with them except collect them.  Don't get me wrong; everyone collects something.  I collect things.  But only one or two things.  Not dozens of things.  And you can walk through my house without thinking you'll be buried alive.  From the description of Jane's personal space, a good earthquake and you'll never find the body.  I could be wrong, but my own opinion.  That alone bothered me, because I hate clutter.
I also thought it was odd that her husband, an archaeologist (I think, since she didn't mention him a lot), spends weeks, sometimes months, out of the country and she's okay with this.  Maybe it works for her; but I think if I were married to an archaeologist, I would probably want to at least spend some time with him in his part of the world, so I would at least be able to build a close relationship with him.  I didn't feel there was any closeness between them, because her son Nick was with his dad, Charley; and she missed Nick, but Charley seemed like an afterthought.  I began to wonder why they were married at all.
I guess I just thought Jane Wheel is a strange duck:  a hoarder in a long-distance relationship that she could just go about doing whatever it was she did without having to worry about another human being.  You want to like the main character, or at least have sympathy for them, but I did neither.  She didn't really think ahead, just plunged into situations.
The mystery itself could have been better, since the situations seemed a little off-the-wall.  When the killer was finally revealed, you would have thought that before acting, they would have done a little more homework to make sure that what they were planning would have worked out.  It just didn't make any sense.  If you've read the book, you'll know what I'm talking about. 

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