SHARON FIFFER – Dead Guy’s Stuff. St. Martin’s, hardcover, 2002; paperback, 2003.

   Jane Wheel is an antiques “picker” (similar to a book scout who finds books for dealers, Jane has a gift for spotting treasures among other people’s trash, which she then sells to e dealer who’s “sponsoring” her). Jane is not only a scout for other people, she’s also a collector of Bakelite. (Even after reading the book, I was a bit unclear about this product, but wife volunteered the information that she remembered it as plastics used in the manufacture of dinnerware. She then made a quick web search courtesy of Google and found that its use dates back to at least the 1930s and includes the manufacture of appliances and jewelry, among other products.)

   This unfortunately reminded me of shows I go to where glassware predominates with books and magazine relegated to also-ran status. Still, the obsession in itself is still recognizable to any collector and who am I to look down on any knowledgeable collector, whatever the field?

   Anyhow, Jane has found a collection of tavern memorabilia, which resonates with her tavern-owning parents who are renovating their bar and grill in Kankakee, Illinois.

   To my mind, the whole subject is somewhat cluttered, and the novel is, too, with gangsters and long-buried family secrets in the mix. In addition, her marriage is shaky and and she and her husband are only maintaining a relationship for their teen-age son.

      The Jane Wheel series —

1. Killer Stuff (2001)

2. Dead Guy’s Stuff (2002)
3. The Wrong Stuff (2003)
4. Buried Stuff (2004)

5. Hollywood Stuff (2006)
6. Scary Stuff (2009)
7. Backstage Stuff (2011)

8. Lucky Stuff (2012)