Dead Guy's Stuff: A Jane Wheel Mystery
Fresh on the heels of Killer Stuff, Sharon Fiffer's auspicious debut, antique "picker" Jane Wheel is making a career out of going through old stuff; it seems she can't get enough of the piles of vintage clothing, kitchen utensils, Bakelite buttons and post cards she finds at estate sales across the Chicago area. What this saloon keepers' daughter loves, though, is not the items themselves but the stories they tell about the lives of their owners.
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.