by Cynthia Chow
It’s “Storage Wars” in Long Beach for Odelia Grey during the post-Thanksgiving Monday that she spends with a little too much family. After only recently being reunited with the mother who had abandoned her when she was sixteen and discovering that Grace Littlejohn would go on to have entirely new family thirty years later, the news that they may unexpectedly be spending more time together is not entirely positive. When Odelia’s security agent half-brother is called away on business before he can take Grace back to her home, Odelia tries to make the best of an uncomfortable situation even, though it has the two women accompanying another Thanksgiving relative to an auction for an abandoned storage unit.
Ina Bruce, the second cousin of Odelia’s new husband, Greg Stevens, has extended the invitation as she bids for the resale business she runs with her husband. Unfortunately, before the auction even behind Ina erupts in a screaming confrontation with Linda McIntyre, a competitor who happens to also be sleeping with Ina’s husband, Tom.
As someone whose friends have bestowed the nickname “Corpse Magnet,” Odelia shouldn’t be surprised when she and her posse of female relatives discover the body of Ina’s husband sitting in a chair in one of the storage units looking as though he was waiting for a beer–were it not for the bullet hole in his forehead.
With Greg having always looked after his little cousin and feeling responsible for Ina, neither he nor Odelia are able let Ina face being a suspect alone, even if one of the investigating detectives used to work with their good friend, Detective Devon Frye. Dev is acting a little odd himself, so maybe it’s just as well that he’s not officially on the case. Odelia definitely has experience investigating murders, so soon she and Greg are using all of their resources, including social media review sites, to research who may have a deadly grievance against Tom and his business.
Just as compelling as the mystery and the undeniably fascinating world of storage unit auctions, is the progression of Odeila’s life and relationships with her husband and mother. Seeing the maternal and loving Renee Steven’s affection for her children only highlights the fracture between Odelia and her mother, and Odelia can’t refrain from feeling resentful and unforgiving towards her. As a result, the gradual mending of the relationship and start of communication is heart-warming and refreshing to witness.
Odelia will need all the support she can gather as she faces an unavoidable tragedy, but not even this can take away from the many laughs readers will enjoy from Odelia’s sarcastic wit and the humor she uses when dealing with her exasperating relatives. Always well-written and on the cusp in trends, Jaffarian allows her characters to evolve realistically in their ever-changing world.
Check out KRL’s review of a previous book in this series & an interview with Sue Ann.
To enter to win a signed copy of Second-Hand Stiff, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Stiff,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 14, 2013. U.S. residents only.
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