The wickedly talented Barbara Allan


Here’s a theatrical dialogue from Antiques Con, the latest wonderful Trash ‘n’ Treasures mystery by Barbara Allan (aka the cosily married writing team of Max Allan Collins and Barbara Collins, both of whom pen terrific mysteries and thrillers on their own as well):

Mother was asking her, “What’s your trade, dear?”

“I work backstage on Wicked. I’m a costume dresser.”

I interjected, “Oh! That’s the show we’re hoping to see while we’re in town. What theater is it playing in, again?”

Vikki looked at me in the mirror. “The Gershwin on West Fifty-first. That’s where I’m going after I drop you off.”

With trying-too-hard sincerity, Mother said, “My dear, your job sounds simply marvelous.” Then, instead of inquiring how long Vikki had been with the play, or how many witches she had seen come and go during its long run, or even if she’d been a dresser on other Broadway shows, Mother shifted the subject to herself.

Just like a wicked witch would.

“Ah, how well I remember waiting for reviews at Sardi’s,” she expounded.

“Oh, my, yes,” Mother warbled, as if the woman should have known. “My stage name was my maiden name—Vivian Jensen. But you are so young, and that was many years ago.”

“What were you in?” Vikki asked, interested.

Mother waved a dismissive hand. “I’m sure you’ve never heard of it, dear. Way before your time.”

She had dug herself in a hole.

The conversation above kicks off the book (a breathless adventure that begins impatiently with Chapter Two), when the series’ heroines Brandy and Vivian Borne hitch a ride to a comics convention in New York.

The bit above gets even better, as mother Vivian tries to convince her auto-host that’s she was some sort of pioneer in onstage New York theater nudity.

In previous Trash ‘n’ Treasures mysteries, Vivian has crowed about her exploits in community theater. She even used her directorial talents while incarcerated one time.

The Trash ‘n’ Treasures books have come out annually since 2006 and include Antiques Roadkill, Antiques Maul, Antiques Flee Market, Antiques Bizarre, Antiques Knock, Antiques Disposal, Antiques Chop and now Antiques Con. There’s also been the Christmas-themed e-book exclusive Antiques Fruitcake. All the Trash ‘n’ Treasures tales are studded with shopping and collecting tips for those who hunt for antique and vintage things.

The Trash ‘n’ Treasures books make for fine fireside reading this stuff-laden time of year, and Vivian’s unpredictable theater digressions are a special bonus.