Private detective Jane Wheel collects 'antiques' from dumpsters, flea markets, house sales, etc. Having recently divorced, sent her son off to prep school, and put her house on the market, Jane packs up her best collectibles and sends them off to her hometown of Kankakee, Illinois. When her house sells Jane sets off for Kankakee herself, where her parents still live. Unfortunately Jane's belongings go astray en route, and she has to contemplate the possibility of losing them forever.
It so happens that Jane arrives in Kankakee at about the same time as second-tier comedian Lucky Miller. Lucky spent his childhood in Kankakee and has returned to stage a 'roast' for himself, thinking this might revitalize his career. Lucky is also spreading around a lot of cash to restore some of his old hangouts. It seems Lucky has lost his childhood memories and hopes that re-staging old experiences will help him recover them.
Before long a suspicious death occurs and Lucky hires Jane to be his temporary assistant. This gives Jane a good vantage point to look into what's going on with the comedian, who seems to be an eccentric sort of guy. Jane also gets a little help from her investigative partner, Bruce Oh. It turns out that Lucky had a childhood friend who died tragically, after which Lucky's family moved away and his life took an odd turn. It seems Lucky needs to recall the details about all this to find peace.
Various characters add interest to the story including Jane's difficult mother and kindly father, her best friend Tim - who meets a new boyfriend, Lucky's employees, and more. I liked the scenes where Jane visited a favorite old soda shop - which reminded me of my own childhood.
I liked parts of the book but Lucky's quest to recover old memories - and the way he went about it - rang a false note for me. I didn't find this part of the story credible. The 'mystery' at the core of the story was also not believable to me, and was a letdown.
This is the first Jane Wheel book I've read and I might try another one.
Rating: 3 stars