Brandy Borne is the kind of gal who puts the chic in Chicago. She knows her designer labels and retro accessories, even though she can no longer afford to buy them. Leaving the big city and returning home to small-town Iowa after "downsizing her life," Brandy gets embroiled in a Nancy Drew-like mystery.

When she discovers that an unscrupulous antiques dealer took advantage of her mother and bought their family heirlooms for a song while the elderly woman was off her medication, she decides to investigate the swindler and his associates. Then a dead body turns up in the middle of the road, and Brandy and her mother are implicated. Even the handsome Officer Lawson can't prevent gossip and complications from running rampant in this quirky Midwestern town.

Barbara Allan is the pseudonym for acclaimed husband-and-wife mystery writers Max Allan and Barbara Collins. They create a fabulous and intimate voice for this novel's heroine, a flawed but funny 30-year-old who takes us on a spirited journey to a place where family wishes are honored, no matter how eccentric the request, and offbeat characters are the norm. (Aug., 240 pp., $22.00)
Reviewed by: 
Marilyn Weigel