First Line: There had to be something weird going on.
Frogs Hill Classic Car Restorations owner Jack Colby is in dire need of cash to keep his business afloat, but that's not why he goes into raptures at the sight of the 1938 Lagonda V12 in a barn not far from his home. Jack is passionate about old cars, and this Lagonda-- and its beautiful, aloof owner-- have set Jack's heart to racing. The owner refuses to listen to any offers to buy the car, but Jack is determined to woo and win both fair lady and her trusty V12 steed.
Until said lady is found murdered in the very same barn that houses the classic car. Since Jack has a bit of an earner on the side working with local police on cases involving cars, he's asked to help them out again, and the deceased woman's daughter has also asked for his assistance. Jack's going to have to work fast to solve this case-- because he's not the only one with designs on that Lagonda.
Believe it or not, you can add an interest in classic cars to my resume along with a passion for crime fiction. To my eyes even a Model T-- the old Tin Lizzie-- is sexier than today's plastic and aluminum contraptions. And don't get me started on Stutz Bearcats or the Hispano-Suiza Boulogne! When I learned about Amy Myer's car detective series, I knew I had to take it out for a test drive.
Even non-car enthusiasts should enjoy this book because the talk never becomes unduly technical. I may like classic cars, but I don't necessarily want to be put to sleep by too much car jargon. Besides, the information Myers gives about car theft rings and the like is truly interesting and fits in with any normal crime fiction fan's education. The mystery and the car fit together well with the list of people wanting to buy the car turning into an excellent suspect list for the woman's murder.
There's only one thing that left me cold about Classic in the Barn: Its main character. Be warned-- my reasons are much more subjective than objective, so your mileage may well indeed vary. Colby is a bit of a lad, although he's not as suave and sophisticated as he likes to think, and his charm and banter need a bit of a brush and polish. All in all Jack Colby reminded me of another lad that I do not care for-- Jonathan Gash's Lovejoy. Always on the lookout for the next great thing that will save the business, forever short of cash, and giving the impression-- whether it's true or not-- that his interpretation of the law changes from day to day. The type of man who only notices a woman if she's well-dressed and beautiful and can do something for him.
Amy Myers' car detective series is a good one if you like the main character. Unfortunately I never could get over my distaste, and it seriously dulled my enjoyment of the book.
Classic in the Barn by Amy Myers
Severn House © 2011
Hardcover, 186 pages
Amateur Sleuth, #1 Car Detective
Source: Paperback Swap