St. Martin's, Nov 2003, 24.95, 320 pp.
Antiques dealer Jane Wheel uses her home as her warehouse so personal things tend to vanish amidst the forest of items. Her son knows first hand the frustration of simply putting something down and not finding it for seemingly centuries afterward. Jane vows to do better, but she also works in Bruce Oh's private investigative firm, which means even less time to catalogue and clean up the house.
As Jane struggles at home, Bruce's wife antique dealer Claire admires a battered chest. The owners, believing it's trash, simply want to save money and effort to cart it off so they give it to her. Claire feels she has obtained an extremely rare Westman Sunflower Chest. She sells her treasure to dealer Horace Cutler, another dealer and takes the item to get it restored. However, when Horace receives his goods he goes wild calling Claire a cheat as he insists the chest is a fake. Not long afterward someone kills Horace and the police suspect Claire committed the homicide. Bruce and Jane set out to prove his spouse is innocent while traveling the cutthroat antiques' world seeking clues.
The who-done-it is fine, but takes a back seat to the strong cast. Jane is a delightful heroine struggling between clutter and oxygen with amusing asides at the beginning of each chapter that will amuse readers especially the pack rats who throw away nothing. Just ask her son about that. Jane's friend Tim Lowry adds humor and further insight to the apprentice sleuth. Sharon Fiffer provides a jocular private investigative yarn that the cozy crowd will believe is the right stuff.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner