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Backstage Stuff (Jane Wheel Mysteries) Kindle Edition

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Length: 301 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Undeveloped characters and a shortage of antiques lore mar Fiffer's fifth Jane Wheel mystery (after 2009's Scary Stuff), one of the weaker entries in her otherwise light and enjoyable cozy series. On the verge of a divorce, antique-picker Jane welcomes the chance to work on an estate sale at the largest mansion in her hometown of Kankakee, Ill. She's also happy to "dress" the set for a production of a play, a murder mystery written by the house's late eccentric owner. When a heavy beam falls on Marvin Gladish, the carpenter for the theater troupe putting on the play, the police think Marv's death is accidental, but Jane suspects murder and once again turns sleuth. The less than suspenseful plot never gains much momentum, and a closing twist doesn't make the denouement any less predictable. (Jan.)
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From Booklist

Antiques picker Jane Wheel, in the midst of a divorce, is at loose ends with her son spending the summer on a dig with his father. Then her good friend Tim Lowry asks her to help him prepare for an estate sale in their hometown of Kankakee, Illinois. Jane finds Tim has an ulterior motive; in addition to her assistance with the sale, he also wants her to help him stage a play written by a local author. Trouble comes quickly: strange events occur at the mansion where the sale is to be held, and someone seems to want to sabotage the play. When one of the crew members dies, Jane investigates. As usual in this entertaining series, information on antiques and collectibles is intertwined with the mystery, and this time the dynamics of running a community theater are also in the mix. --Sue O'Brien

Product Details

  • File Size: 632 KB
  • Print Length: 301 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0312609795
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (January 4, 2011)
  • Publication Date: January 4, 2011
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0044782DW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #676,724 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Memoir led to mystery for writer Sharon Fiffer

Before finding her inner Nancy Drew,Fiffer co-edited three collections of literary memoirs: Home, Family, and Body.

Editing the memoirs of others prompted her to write about her own childhood--growing up in the EZ Way Inn, her parents' tavern in Kankakee, Illinois. When she began creating the character of antiques picker and scavenger, Jane Wheel, she decided to merge her own memories with those of her fictional heroine, giving Jane a giant helping of her Kankakee childhood.

"It's great fun to rewrite one's childhood and work out all the humor and glitches and heartbreaks of being a grown-up daughter while also struggling to be a mother, a wife, a professional, and a friend. It's also fun to shop at garage sales, rummage sales, flea markets and estate sales--all in the name of research."

Sharon Fiffer admits to having a few collections of her own, but is happy to work out any obsessions with Bakelite buttons, crocheted potholders and vintage sterling silver charm bracelets on the pages of her novels.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Queenvon on January 17, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This 5th installment of my favorite Picker and P.I.-in-training series featuring Jane Wheel, diverged from the previous 4 novels in that there were very few mentions of 'STUFF' or antiques, as well as some issues with character development. I liked this story, the familiar characters and the fleshing out of Jane's background, but I thought this book was not a best effort when it came to the 'mystery'--it was just too easy, and the story/plot lines was just not up to snuff. I felt like Jane Wheel--discombobulated!

Best friend Tim Lowry knows Jane needs to get away from her house: Nick (her teen-aged son) has gone to summer with Charlie (her soon to be EX-husband) on an archaeological dig. Home alone with her impending divorce weighing heavily on her mind, Jane agrees to help Tim with an estate clearing/sale in Kanakee, Illinois. Of course, Jane's parents, Don and Nellie, own/operate a bar, the EZ Way Inn there. Jane packs up Rita, her dog, her new cell phone (so she can Tweet and Facebook with Nick) and accompanies Tim back to the town of their high school days. The estate belongs to a prominent and wealthy family and the house is a mansion filled with all kinds of stuff. Tim and Jane will have their work cut out for them. The heirs are older and neither live in Kanakee. The Grandfather was a local character and playwright, while the father was infamous for an investment scheme which lost not only his family's money, but many others in the small town. Tim has an ulterior motive for wanting Jane on this job--he has finagled his way into being the director of the community play. It was, of course, written by the grandfather, and is a murder mystery entitled 'Murder in Eekannk' (Kanakee backwards).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By amir on January 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Fiffer's lovely seventh book in her Jane Wheel mystery series, Backstage Stuff, illuminates the characters and places we've come to love in her earlier books. But even as we're welcomed back into the E-Z Way Inn, back into the fold with Jane, Nellie, Oh, and Tim, we're also introduced to new locations, new characters, and yes, don't worry, lots of cool new stuff.

This is a mystery I wanted to read all day long for as long as it would last. A good mystery is like that. But beware: this one stays with you for a while -- I'm still recalling moments, conjuring treasures, and reconsidering characters. Looking forward to number eight!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By theretroscottie on June 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Bah humbug to all you reviewers who downplay this fabulous mystery! Although I agree that the book does not mention "antique stuff" as frequently as the other novels in the series, this book has a wonderful plot that kept me guessing until the end. I simply could not stop reading this book. The mystery is very interesting and funny. The madcap adventures of Jane, Tim, and Nellie (the surprise actor!!) along with Rita the dog will provide you with a least a couple hours of pure enjoyment. A WONDERFUL BOOK WORTHY OF YOUR TIME!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By ITZME on February 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A fun read. Jane Wheel (Antique Picker and Private Investigator) is assisting her friend Tim with a large estate sale and gets caught up in the production of an old timey play. We meet a new cast of characters (really characters). Our usuals (Jane's parents), Oh and Claire, Nick (her son) and her husband Charley (who is Honduras on a dig) are also integrated within the story. A ventriliquist's dummy (Mr. Bumbles) is predominant in the plot.
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Format: Hardcover
First Line: Jane Wheel couldn't sleep.

If divorce weren't staring her right in the face, Jane could probably sleep the night and day away. But lawyers are wanting detailed lists of income and expenditures, and she's finding it much easier to learn how to check in with her son Nick on Facebook, Twitter and text messages than it is to sit down and compile everything the lawyers want.

Fortunately her best friend Tim knows just what to do to get Jane out of her doldrums. Not only is there a mansion on the outskirts of Kankakee, Illinois, that's stuffed to the rafters with treasures that need to be sorted, tagged and priced before the estate sale, Tim has also unearthed a play written by the mansion's former owner. He's directing and starring in the murder mystery and needs Jane's help with props and the like. But when the show's carpenter dies under suspicious circumstances, Jane becomes convinced that someone definitely doesn't want the show to go on-- and that someone might even be willing to kill to stop it.

These Jane Wheel mysteries are among the select few that I tuck away, knowing that if I'm in need of a guaranteed good read, Jane won't let me down. Backstage Stuff reinforced my belief in Jane Wheel and her creator Sharon Fiffer. In this seventh book in the series, Fiffer used misdirection (in the form of multitudes of creepy ventriloquist's dummies) brilliantly to keep part of the plot from being revealed too soon.

As good as the mystery was, it's always Fiffer's characters that get the lion's share of my attention. Jane has been quietly evolving throughout the series.
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