``My mind's a ragbag. Things stick,'' says the inimitably crooked antiquer Lovejoy (The Sin Within Her Smile, 1994, etc.) as he apologizes to a magistrate who's got him up on the usual charges. Same goes for his plots, which barely serve to hold together an endless series of anecdotes and asides parceled out, evidently, from a seamless, million-page manuscript locked in some cupboard. For the record, this installment, Lovejoy's 17th, is the one in which the murder of his mate Tryer, and the explosion of Tryer's Sex Museum, interrupts the plans Lovejoy's making with the elderly Misses Dewhurst to auction off a record number of unadulterated forgeries. More to the point, it's the one in which racy digressions set you straight about enamels, stools, teddy bears, the uses of woad, Genseric the Vandal, Nicholas II, and the Earl of Sandwich, while equally racy dalliances without number are brushed aside with the masterly line: ``A woman makes you forget everything, including others.'' You'll love it, if it doesn't drive you up the wall.