Saturday, February 6, 2016

Antique Swap by Barbara Allan ****

First a funny story. I grew up in New York and eventually went to school in Salt Lake City, Utah. My mother, still in New York, sent me a letter addressed to Salt Lake City, Iowa. (This was pre-zipcodes, and the letter was delivered without a problem.) I reconstructed my mother's thought process like this: "one of those states, but with a short name,"

I regret to inform you that what I know about Iowa (flat, corn) is still not much. Today I know more, because Antiques Swap by Barbara Allan is placed in Iowa. In 1911 Iowa because famous for life-size cow sculptures fashioned from butter at the state fair. The same state fair offers fried butter. This book includes a recipe for said fried butter. Nothing that encouraged me to go out of my way to try it.

Antiques Swap is a cozy mystery in the town of Serentiy, Iowa on the shore of the Mississippi River. The two amateur sleuths are Brandy Borne and her mother Vivian Borne. As is typical for the genre the story is told first-person point-of-view in a chatty style with the protagonists occasionally directly addressing the reader. For most of the story, Brandy makes loving, but disparaging, remarks about her mother. For a few chapters Vivian assumes the narration responsibilities to a humorous result.

Surprisingly, a major plot element is a wife-swapping group in Serenity. This is quite a bit of sex for a cozy mystery, but rest assured that nothing happens within the narrative beyond vague gossip, mild shock, and general disapproval.

There is a murder and the murderer is caught amid confusion and small town excitement. Overall, a pleasant addition to the canon of cozy mysteries.

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