Styled for Murder
A Bad Hair Day Mystery #17
Nancy J. Cohen
Orange Grove Press, November 2021
From the author—
When hairstylist and savvy sleuth, Marla Vail, gets a frantic call from her mother that there’s a dead body in her shower, Marla realizes this wasn’t part of the home renovation plans. The victim turns out to be the project manager, who had an untrustworthy reputation in town. Disgruntled customers, unpaid suppliers, and the design company’s staff are among the suspects. Which one of them wanted the foreman to pipe down about their shady dealings?
Meanwhile, the lead investigator sets his sights on Marla’s stepfather, Reed, who’s keeping secrets from his family. Reed has a past connection to the victim and won’t come clean about what he knows. As Marla drills deeper, she’s showered with suspicions, but nobody’s willing to leak any information. She needs to hammer down the prospects, or time will drain away and the murderer will strike again.
To flush out the culprit, Marla taps into her pipeline of resources. Can she assemble the clues and demolish the alibis to nail a killer? Or has someone designed the perfect murder?
I’ve had this book for a while but I purposely held off reading it till right before Christmas as a present to myself. Marla Vail and everyone in her orbit have been favorites of mine for years and I knew I could count on Ms. Cohen to give me another fun, charming story to help me de-stress before the holidays and I’m happy to report that I was right 🙂
Marla’s police detective husband, Dalton, gave up long ago trying to get her to stay out of murder investigations for any number of reasons:
1. She’s a tad headstrong.
2. She’s a clever amateur sleuth, often a few steps ahead of the official investigators.
3. She has a way about her that makes people spill the beans.
4. She has solved a lot of murders in her day.
In this particular case, Dalton has no jurisdiction but things are literally too close to home since the body was found in her mother’s bathroom during a renovation and, eventually, the clues start pointing at Marla’s stepfather, Reed, even though the victim had alienated quite a few potential suspects. Reed does little to help himself and, meanwhile, there are other family issues going on and her hair salon to run, demanding Marla’s attention, not to mention her baby. Having that baby raises the stakes immensely but Marla simply can’t abandon her mother, even though her stepfather is keeping secrets that may ruin their marriage.
Excellent plotting with a plethora of red herrings and characters that held my attention kept me reading into the night until, once again, Ms. Cohen brought it all to a satisfying conclusion, ending with a few recipes I want to try while I wait not so patiently for Marla’s next adventure.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2021.