Fiffer, Sharon 1951-
Fiffer, Sharon 1951-
(Sharon Sloan Fiffer)
PERSONAL: Born 1951; married Steve Fiffer (a writer and editor); children: three.
ADDRESSES: Home— Evanston, IL. E-mail— [email protected]
CAREER: Writer, editor, educator, and novelist. Instructor in writing programs and English departments at the University of Illinois, Barat College, and Northwestern University.
AWARDS, HONORS: Literary Award, Illinois Arts Council, for short story “The Power of Speech”; Artist’s Fellowship in Fiction.
Imagining America: Paul Thai’s Journey from the Killing Fields of Cambodia to Freedom in the U.S.A., Paragon House (New York, NY), 1991.
(With Steve Fiffer) Fifty Ways to Help Your Community: A Handbook for Change, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1994.
(Editor, with Steve Fiffer) Home: American Writers Remember Rooms of Their Own, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1995.
(Editor, with Steve Fiffer) Family: American Writers Remember Their Own, afterword by Jane Smiley, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1996.
(Editor, with Steve Fiffer) Body, Bard (New York, NY), 1999.
“JANE WHEEL” MYSTERY SERIES; NOVELS
Killer Stuff, St. Martin’s Minotaur (New York, NY), 2001.
Dead Guy’s Stuff, St. Martin’s Minotaur (New York, NY), 2002.
The Wrong Stuff, St. Martin’s Minotaur (New York, NY), 2003.
Buried Stuff, St. Martin’s Minotaur (New York, NY), 2004.
Hollywood Stuff, St. Martin’s Minotaur (New York, NY), 2006.
Other Voices, coeditor, c. 1985-91.
SIDELIGHTS: Novelist, editor, and educator Sharon Fiffer is the author of a series of mystery novels centering on collector, antiques picker, collectibles consultant, and flea-market maven Jane Wheel. Separated from her husband, a professor, and laid off from her job at a Chicago advertising agency, Jane decides to become a “picker” for an antiques dealer, scouring sales, shops, and markets looking for unnoticed or undervalued items that can be acquired cheaply and resold for a profit. In the first book of the series, Killer Stuff, Jane’s amateur sleuthing skills are required when a neighbor is murdered. Her efforts, however, are hampered by a rumor that she is having an affair with the dead woman’s husband, having been caught giving him a surreptitious kiss at a dinner party. Despite the rumor, homicide detective Bruce Oh is willing to work with Jane to solve the crime, especially after she uncovers a second body and the unique object used in the murder. With assistance from her best friend, Tim, a gay antiques dealer, Jane sorts the treasures from the clutter in her search for a murderer. Booklist reviewer Stuart Miller called the novel “an auspicious debut featuring a popular pastime.”
In Dead Guy’s Stuff, Jane uncovers a trove of antique bar memorabilia that she intends to use to decorate her parents’ bar in Kankakee, Illinois. Among the items, however, Jane finds a disturbing relic: a human finger floating in a jar. When she contacts detective Bruce Oh to help reunite the digit with its original owner, the investigation reveals an unexpected connection between the finger and her parents. “Humor and a great many details” about collectors of “stuff” and the collector’s mentality “make this a fascinating, fun story,” observed Booklist reviewer Sue O’Brien. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the book “hilarious stuff” and “worth reading cover to cover.”
The Wrong Stuff finds Jane determined to reduce the unwieldy masses of objects in her own home after she loses her son’s field trip permission slip. While fielding an invitation from Bruce Oh to join his new private detective agency, Jane helps Bruce and his wife, Claire, herself an antiques dealer, with a deal gone bad. Another infuriated antiques buyer has accused Claire of substituting a fake item for an extremely rare and valuable chest. When the buyer is discovered murdered, suspicion falls on the beleaguered Claire. Jane agrees to investigate, and accompanied by her best pal, Tim, she heads off to determine what happened to the original chest when it was sent away for restoration. A second murder convinces Jane that whoever is interested in the chest is willing to go to any lengths to retain it. Detailed information on the often unseen world of antiques “picking, dealing, and restoring, as well as clutter removal, offer added dimensions to an enjoyable series,” commented O’Brien in another Booklist review.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES
Booklist, November 1, 1995, Mary Carroll, review of Home: American Writers Remember Rooms of Their Own, p. 449; November 1, 1996, Jim O’Laughlin, review of Family: American Writers Remember Their Own, p. 474; June 1, 1999, Donna Seaman, review of Body, p. 1770; August, 2001, Stuart Miller, review of Killer Stuff, p. 2095; October 1, 2002, Sue O’Brien, review of Dead Guy’s Stuff, p. 303; September 15, 2003, Sue O’Brien, review of The Wrong Stuff, p. 214; November 15, 2004, Sue O’Brien, review of Buried Stuff, p. 565; May 1, 2006, Sue O’Brien, review of Hollywood Stuff, p. 22.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 1991, review of Imagining America: Paul Thai’s Journey from the Killing Fields of Cambodia to Freedom in the U.S.A., p. 981; October 1, 1996, review of Family, p. 1440; May 15, 1999, review of Body, p. 771; July 15, 2001, review of Killer Stuff, p. 982; August 15, 2002, review of Dead Guy’s Stuff, p. 1177; September 1, 2003, review of The Wrong Stuff, p. 1101; September 15, 2004, review of Buried Stuff, p. 893; April 15, 2006, review of Hollywood Stuff, p. 381.
Library Journal, August, 1991, Glenn Masuchika, review of Imagining America, p. 128; November 1, 2002, Rex E. Klett, review of Dead Guy’s Stuff, p. 132; November 1, 2003, Rex E. Klett, review of The Wrong Stuff, p. 128.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, December 24, 1995, Bernard Cooper, “Home for the Holidays,” p. 1.
Publishers Weekly, July 5, 1991, review of Imagining America, p. 52; August 28, 1995, review of Home, p. 93; September 2, 1996, review of Family, p. 101; May 3, 1999, review of Body, p. 58; August 6, 2001, review of Killer Stuff, p. 65; September 23, 2002, review of Dead Guy’s Stuff, p. 53; October 13, 2003, “November Publications,” review of The Wrong Stuff, p. 61; April 10, 2006, review of Hollywood Stuff, p. 49.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), September 9, 2001, review of Killer Stuff, p. 3.
Sharon Fiffer Home Page, http://www.sharonfiffer.com (December 3, 2006).