Easter Hair Hunt

 
  • Publisher: Orange Grove Press
  • Series: The Bad Hair Day Mysteries , 16
  • Release Date: March 10, 2020
  • Genre: Cozy Mystery
  • Available Formats: eBook and Paperback
  • Digital: ISBN: 9780999793268
  • Paperback: ISBN: 9780999793275

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An Easter egg hunt at a historic mansion is not all it’s cracked up to be when hairstylist Marla Vail discovers a body in a bunny suit.

When hairstylist Marla Vail attends an Easter egg hunt at historic Tremayne Manor, she’s only there to fix hair for a client, Bonnie “Blinky” Morris. But when she’s asked to comb the grounds for leftover goodies, Marla discovers more than just a few dyed eggs. The dead body in the bunny costume is definitely not having a good hare day. And Blinky seems to have disappeared down a rabbit hole.

While trying to solve a murder, everyone needs a friend who’s all ears. For Marla, that’s her husband, homicide detective Dalton Vail. They make an eggcellent team. Dalton isn’t the kind to leap to conclusions, but with his wife seven months pregnant, and knowing Marla finds crime-solving to be irresistible, he worries about her running off on another hare-raising adventure.

Marla’s peeps are hoping for a happy ending, but she may have found a basketful of trouble this time. Can she crack the case before Blinky becomes the next victim?

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Awards & Accolades:

Semifinalist in the Royal Palm Literary Awards
Five Stars at Readers’ Favorite
Fresh Pick at FreshFiction.com

Readers Favorite       Fresh Pick


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Reviews

“Ms. Cohen has weaved a fascinating tale with well-plotted mysteries. I loved the Russian and French ties that the family has in it. The mystery was intriguing, and the sleuth was funny and friendly. I am giving this book a four-star rating and recommending it to anyone that loves mysteries.” Karen Baron, Baroness’ Book Trove

“New to this series, I had to give it a try after reading the blurb. We start with an Easter egg hunt. Marla is helping with the event though she is somewhat limited due to being seven months pregnant. As a hairdresser, she is there to fix a client’s hair after she takes off the bunny costume, but when she doesn’t arrive, Marla gets worried. Searching for her while cleaning up missed eggs, she runs across a body covered in blood. Familiar with helping her detective husband, she starts investigating and man does it complicated fast as the secrets start coming out as well as a second dead body. Overall a fun cozy with an Easter theme that will keep you captivated while putting you the holiday spirit. A great read.” Jessica Robbins, Books a Plenty Book Reviews

“Marla is a character that becomes more appealing with each adventure, largely because she’s an intelligent woman who takes things in stride and doesn’t continually do stupid things. Dalton is her equal and recognizes how good she is at sussing out the facts and following leads; he long ago gave up trying to keep her out of investigations and the pair make a good team. This time, they’re dealing with a plethora of clues and suspects and the twists and turns abound. I’ve followed this series from the beginning and I’m already anticipating the next book because Ms. Cohen never lets me down.” Lelia Taylor, Buried Under Books

“I am a fan of The Bad Hair Day Mysteries and was quite happy when this story proved to be another great addition to the series. Nancy Cohen did a lot of research into collectibles in order to write this book and make it believable and realistic. The plot of this story was so interesting and even though I guessed some of what was going on, I was invested in the story to figure out all the details. The characters were varied and even the secondary ones were well developed. I love how much Marla has grown and changed throughout this series. Her relationship with Dalton and his daughter, Brianna is also very realistic which has me caring about the characters.” Carla Johnson-Hicks, Carla Loves to Read

“Marla’s task of collecting any missed Easter eggs or goodies goes south quickly when she finds a man in part of a bunny costume, dead. The costume he’s wearing is the one her friend Blinky was wearing only a few minutes before. And the egg she finds nearby is none other than a Fabergé. No one knows where Blinky went or how the Fabergé egg ended up in the grass. Worried about her friend, Marla gets very busy following clues. There are expected and unexpected twists and turns as the story unfolds. This is the 16th in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries and Cohen has done it again with steady pace and characters who have depth and personality.” Christa Nardi, Christa Reads and Writes

“I, for one, greatly enjoy holiday-themed mysteries, and Easter is one that is often overlooked. Ms. Cohen creates plenty of details to incorporate the theme, including a Fabergé egg theft and a dead costumed Easter bunny. I loved all the factoids she wove into the story about Fabergé eggs, bee keeping, and philately (aka stamp collecting). Despite the details, the story moved at a good pace and the mystery was well-plotted. While I guessed which one of the suspects killed the Easter bunny, there were some twists that I didn’t see coming which kept the story entertaining. Given that Marla is seven months pregnant in the book, I appreciated that she did everything possible to not put herself in danger. Her detective husband, Dalton, recognizes her value in finding clues and getting people to talk and treats her like a true partner which made the book all the more enjoyable.” Kim Davis, Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder

“I am a huge fan of the Bad Hair Day Mystery series and any time that I can pick up one of the books in this series and get lost, I am going to do it!  Easter Hair Hunt is the sixteenth book in this series by Nancy J. Cohen and I was hooked immediately…Nothing and I mean nothing can stop Marla when ‘she’ is on a case….even her unborn son kicking her from time to time telling her to focus on him! The good thing about Marla is that she can multi-task better than anyone and when her and Dalton, with the help of her step-daughter Brianna, work things out on their Sunday outings or sitting around the dinner table, the killer had better watch out! Readers … this series is a MUST read!  If you haven’t started reading these books, I highly encourage you to pick them up! There are so many things to love when reading them!” Missi M., Cozy Mystery Book Reviews

“Marla was at an Easter event at Tremayne Manor to fix Bonnie “Blinky” Morris’ hair but while helping clear the grounds of any eggs missed by the searching children she finds a dead bunny, a human in a bunny suit. Seven months pregnant, the last thing she needs is another murder investigation, but hubby and homicide detective, Dalton Vail, knows they make a great team because people open up to Marla. He just hopes all those baby kicks she is receiving help her to make careful choices. The case gets pretty egg-citing and she best “bee” careful or she may find herself just a “hare” out of the killer’s sights… I have truly enjoyed the books in this series. The characters are well-developed and the dialogue is snappy. There is the perfect balance between family life and mystery along with a good dose of humor along the way. There is a big event coming soon for Marla and Dalton. I am excited to see how the author handles this in future books.” Lori Caswell, Escape with Dollycas

“Easter Hair Hunt by Nancy J Cohen has everything I expect from a cozy mystery. Some fun characters, an interesting location and a mystery with plenty of suspects to keep me guessing. Marla was looking for her client, Blinky, who is dressed as the Easter bunny for the egg hunt. When she finds the bunny, surprise, surprise, it’s not Blinky in the costume, but the wearer is dead. She also finds an eggcellent surprise lying close by… Cozy mysteries lack the dark side of murder that I love so much, but every once in a while I want something easy reading with some humor and fun.” Sherry F. at Fundinmental

“Crack this one open! Nancy Cohen has penned another well-written book filled with a clever mystery, endearing characters, and an “Oh, Wow!” conclusion. The mystery is engaging with lots of questions needing to be answered… Nancy’s writing style is always well-paced using a third-person narrative that highlights all the characters well. Her descriptive language paints a marvelous setting including the Manor and its treasures, people and their reactions, and personalities and tone through expressive dialogue. It is a delightful read making this series a fan favorite.” Kathleen Costa, Kings River Life Magazine

“EASTER HAIR HUNT is another colorful installment to this series. The sixteenth book, the material is as fresh as book one. The story, the characters, the mystery are all handled masterfully by author Cohen. This story had me hopping from one clue to the next. I was trying to find the answers to everything that made up this mystery as though I was on an Easter egg hunt I just had to win. For the record, I lost the hunt because I never found what I was looking for until the author herself revealed it. Eggcellent work Ms. Cohen. If you’re looking for a fun Easter themed mystery, hop on down the bunny trail to your local bookstore and get your copy of EASTER HAIR HUNT!” Lisa K., Lisa K’s Book Reviews

“Marla is drawn into an investigation that involves a missing friend and a stolen Fabergé egg. As Marla and husband Dalton proceed, she finds her family life and pregnancy challenged in more ways than one, with everything overshadowed by Easter and a mystery steeped in South Florida history and culture. Nancy Cohen excels at capturing this atmosphere, injecting it into Marla’s life and choices with a series of seasonal egg-related revelations and surprises that keep readers immersed in both town affairs, personalities and politics and an Easter egg hunt like no other.” Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

“This book kept me guessing, as there are a lot of possible killers. I only guessed the killer a heartbeat before Marla did. Marla is heavily pregnant but that doesn’t stop her from investigating when her friend Blinky goes missing at the same time a body is found during an Easter egg hunt. I love this series and the characters, and the SE Florida setting. I’m even making a list of possible names for the baby.” Ana Kurland, Mostly Cozy Librarian

“Intrepid sleuth Marla Vail goes looking for her friend Blinky and instead finds a dead gardener. She also finds a Faberge egg on the estate grounds. In a case of classic misdirection in which no one is who they appear to be, Marla snips out the lies to reveal the truth and the killer. Another fun installment in Cohen’s entertaining Bad Hair Day series.” Muddy Rose Reviews

“Marla is a strong woman who can handle almost anything. But she will need the help of her husband, Dalton, who is a homicide detective. I really enjoyed the two of them working together; that was a welcome change from most cozy mysteries. Instead of demanding that she back off and leave the detecting to him, he values her input and cares about her opinions. The characters are well rounded and well developed. The writing style flows smoothly and the book is an easy read. The author is very talented in her descriptive writing and these descriptions pulled me into the story right from the beginning. The mysteries were well plotted and had enough twists and turns to make it difficult to solve them. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a well-crafted cozy mystery.” Jerjen at Open Book Society

“Family, friends, and community – that’s what Ms. Cohen’s novels are all about, just as much as they are about crime and its detection. The blend is intoxicating. This latest addition to her Bad Hair Day mystery series is bound to please her large body of readers. Her main character, hair salon owner Marla Vail, once again finds herself running into a crime that she can’t help investigating. After all, when good friend “Blinky” Morris, last seen in an Easter bunny suit during an Easter egg hunt, is suddenly missing, and the bunny suit is found worn by a corpse, what would any self-respecting amateur sleuth do?” Phil Jason, Phil Jason Reviews Books (formerly with Florida Weekly)

“Easter Hair Hunt has several aspects to it with various threads that pull Marla in various directions until coming back together for a shocking turn of events. Her client goes missing, a murder shocks the historic manor, and theft could be the center of it all with each part of the mystery taking Marla deeper into the lives of all those who live at the manor. Easter Hair Hunt is another delightful mystery for Marla as she embarks on new changes in her life while she works to solve a mystery that delivers an exciting and fun read.” 5 Stars! Liz Konkel, Readers’ Favorite

“Hairstylist Marla Vail and her detective husband, Dalton, are back for another mysterious adventure. I always enjoy my time spent in Florida with the Vails. This time Marla is hired by her friend Blinky. Blinky is playing the Easter Bunny at an Easter egg hunt event at the Tremayne Manor. Marla is supposed to do Blinky’s hair, but when the costume comes off, Marla doesn’t find her friend. Instead she finds a dead body. This series always makes me feel like I’m ‘coming home’. The cast of characters are old friends. Even the secondary characters are well-developed, realistic and I care about them. The mystery goes at a fast-pace and kept me guessing until near the end. I guessed part of the resolution, but I was completely shocked at the way it all wrapped up. Nancy J. Cohen is on my “auto-buy” list.  Her writing is crisp, fresh and captivating.  This is one of my favorite series and I do hope it continues for a long time to come.” Yvonne at Socrates Book Reviews

“What I loved most about Easter Hair Hunt is the characterization. Marla, owner of the Cut ‘N Dye Hair Salon in south Florida, is seven months pregnant. Her husband, Dalton, is a homicide detective with a teenage daughter, Brianna. Something we don’t often see in mysteries is the mutual respect that Dalton and Marla have for each other, and Dalton appreciates how valuable Marla’s people skills and insight can be to his investigation. Family is a strong feature and the characters are easy to connect with, literally becoming best friends as the series progresses. I enjoyed everything about this story and hope for many more to come.” Carole Jarvis at The Power of Words

“The author once again gives readers a tantalizing murder mystery to solve while renewing acquaintances with her delightful characters. The book is the 16th installment in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries but can be read on its own without leaving readers in the dark.  The story moves at a good pace and holds your attention to the very end. The characters are well developed, a bit quirky, and might remind you of real people you know. The plot will draw you in and could have you grinning a few times before the end. This story will fill your reading basket with entertainment, charming characters, plot twists, tasty recipes, and a cozy murder mystery to solve.” Mason Canyon, Thoughts in Progress

“This book was interesting, fast paced and enjoyable.” Bernadette C.’s Reviews

“The book is peppered with characters who just aren’t who/what they appear to be in the fast paced mystery in a historic estate setting. The author does an amazing job with character development and connecting everyone together in a well told, easy to read, interesting and fun murder mystery. If you are a fan of cozy mysteries, this one will surely satisfy.” Judy J.’s Reviews

“I just love this series. Marla and Dalton are investigating another case together. Marla is looking for her friend and Dalton is trying to solve two murders. They must be connected. As she gets ready for her son’s birth and her mother’s wedding, she tries to make time to solve the mystery of her friend’s disappearance, an ongoing theft, her work and getting the baby’s room ready. She really needs to find some time to relax. I like how Dalton includes his wife and daughter in his investigations.” Julia D.’s Reviews

“I like the subterfuge surrounding the story. The twists, turns, and whys were more important. I like the main characters. Marla and Dalton work well together and assist each other. Marla knows she’s not a detective but is well adept at assisting her husband in finding relevant bits of information.” Kathleen’s Reviews

“If you, like me, are a long-time fan of Nancy J. Cohen and her terrific Bad Hair Day Mystery series (or anything this author has written, for that matter) then you will have been eagerly awaiting this book, the sixteenth in the series. And let me tell you right up front, you will not be disappointed. Easter Hair Hunt is the best one yet. I know I say that with every release, but with every release it’s true. Is it because the plot and mystery are that much more engaging, or the phrasing seems that much more real, or because Marla’s character has grown with each book into someone you’d really like to have as a friend, or is it just the way author Cohen magically combines all these elements into a story you cannot put down and will enjoy reading on every page? Whatever it is, it works.” Sally’s Reviews

“I’ve been on a few Easter Egg hunts but nothing like this! Ms. Cohen will have you think you cracked the case only to send you hopping down another path. So hold onto your bonnet and get ready for another great Bad Hair Day Mystery.” Tara L.’s Reviews

“An Eggcellent Cozy Mystery! …This is such a great series, the characters are well rounded and you truly get a sense of the kind of people they are with each new book. I’ve come to know them and feel as if they are old friends.” Taryn’s Reviews

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Excerpt


Copyright 2020 by Nancy J. Cohen

“I don’t see Blinky anywhere, do you?” Marla Vail asked her best friend, Tally Riggs. They stood on the rear terrace of Tremayne Manor, a historic mansion privately owned but open to the public for special events and guided tours. A wide expanse of lawn faced them.

“She seems to have disappeared,” Tally replied. “Where were you supposed to meet her?”

“Blinky told me to wait here after her appearance as the Easter bunny.” Bonnie Morris, also known as Blinky, had hired Marla to fix her hair for a fundraiser luncheon that followed the children’s Easter egg hunt. Blinky was a customer at Marla’s salon as well as a friend.

Tally rocked the stroller holding her nineteen-month old son, Luke, who sat happily playing with a squeaky toy. Marla had figured the duo needed an outing, so she’d invited Tally to join her. After her husband’s death, Tally was struggling to raise Luke on her own.

Marla shaded her eyes from the sun and peered at the manicured grounds in front of them. A few stragglers, children who hadn’t heeded the call to rejoin their parents, ran about shrieking and hollering as they sought to collect more Easter eggs hidden in the grass.

What could be delaying her client? Tardiness was not a habit where Blinky was concerned. The woman was never late for an appointment. If anything cracked her reserve, she blinked a mile-a-minute. Hence her nickname, that she told even strangers to call her.

“Do you think Blinky needs help getting out of her costume? It did look awfully bulky,” Marla said. “I can’t imagine what else might be keeping her.”

Tally gave Marla a reassuring smile. “Don’t worry; she’ll turn up. There’s still a half-hour until the meal starts. How about if I search inside the house and you check the yard? Blinky might have strayed off the beaten path and gotten lost.” Tally pointed toward a row of hedges that bordered the formal gardens. Tall, shady trees edged the rear of the property.

“You’re right. She wouldn’t want the kids to see her remove the costume, although it’s more likely she’s changing clothes inside the house.”

“Would you rather we switch places? You don’t want to fall in your condition.”

Marla patted her baby bump. “Now you’re sounding like Dalton. Don’t coddle me because I’m seven months pregnant.” Nonetheless, her back hurt more lately and the added weight made her feel clumsy. She’d better watch her footing.

She had just started down the marble stairs when Lacey Tremayne—their hostess and the estate’s owner—called, “Marla, are you free for a few minutes?”

“I suppose. What’s up?” Marla asked, turning toward the woman.

Lacey wore her blond hair swept into a chignon. A diamond necklace circled her neck. Her eyes mirrored the blue from her tea-length gown and held a friendly expression. As she drew closer, Marla caught a whiff of expensive perfume.

“I see you’re heading out for some fresh air. Would you mind gathering the eggs left in the field? I don’t want them hiding in the grass to muck up our gardener’s mower. The last of the children are coming in now, and my house staff is busy preparing for the luncheon.”

“Sure, I can do that.”

Lacey’s gaze lowered to Marla’s belly. “Are you even able to bend over? If not, I could ask our head gardener. He’s working in the greenhouse today. We’ve given the rest of his crew the weekend off to be with their families.”

“I’ll be fine,” Marla said, accepting the basket the woman offered. She couldn’t very well refuse the lady of the house, who’d been kind enough to invite her to stay for the luncheon.

Worried about Blinky, she hastened down the steps and then paused, wondering which way to go first. Would her client have headed toward the formal gardens with cultivated hedges, cascading fountains and geometric flower beds? She wouldn’t have gone to the café. Maybe she had ventured farther out on the lawn by the trees.

Deciding to search the level ground first, Marla roamed across the grass, glad she’d worn low-heeled pumps instead of sandals. She had on a dressy top over comfortable black pants, which made walking outside easier.

The Tremayne estate bordered the northern edge of Broward County in Southeast Florida. She’d never heard of it until now or she would have visited sooner. Her husband enjoyed touring historical houses as well as nature parks. Dalton would like the mansion with its museum-quality collections and extensive gardens.

Her cross-body purse bounced with each step. Today’s March weather had brought sunny skies and balmy breezes, but it could also bring a quick rain shower. She hurried forward.

A sweet scent cloyed the air as she approached the end of the field, picking up a leftover egg here and there. Thankfully, the ground was dry, and her shoes barely left any impression. She hurried toward a cluster of seagrape trees, eager for the shade. Being heavier these days, she overheated easily and had to pace herself.

As she dodged the broad leaves on overhanging branches, a glint caught her attention. What was that? A piece of metal reflecting the sunlight?

Oh, it’s another egg, she realized as she got closer. She picked it up and turned it over in her hand. That’s weird. This was not a child’s plastic toy like the others she’d retrieved. The egg she held appeared to be a real treasure, or else a fancy replica. Lines of rose-cut diamonds set in gold quartered its ruby enameled surface. Or were those crystals? Surely, this exquisite piece wasn’t meant to be lying in the grass. Someone must have dropped it by mistake.

A central seam split the surface. Did the thing open? She tried to pry it apart without any success. There must be a trick to it. Maybe pushing on the top gem would trigger the release.

Just then the sun exposed a flash of white among the shrubbery. She stepped over for a closer look. As she parted the branches, a gasp escaped her lips.

Dear Lord. Lying face-down on the ground was the missing Easter bunny, still in full costume.

“Blinky, are you all right?” Marla called. She stuck the jeweled egg in her pocket and dropped her basket on the grass.

The figure didn’t move a muscle. Had Blinky fainted? Maybe she couldn’t breathe in that outfit.

Marla fought an urge to remove the headpiece, because that would entail dragging her friend into the clearing. She shouldn’t exert herself that way.

How could she help? A zipper ran down the back of the costume. No indication of movement was present. Was Blinky breathing at all?

Maybe she could loosen the headpiece and feel for a pulse at the neck. But as she leaned nearer, her breath hitched. A blotch of red congealed on the ground beneath the body.

Marla’s heart thudded in her chest. Is that blood? You’d better not touch anything. Call for help.

She whipped out her cell phone and dialed nine-one-one. After giving the relevant information, she rang off and called Tally.

“I’m out on the lawn,” she said. “I found Blinky. She’s still in her costume and lying unresponsive on the ground.”

“Holy smokes! What’s wrong with her?”

“I’m not sure. I’ve called for the medics, and the police should be arriving.” Marla hesitated to mention her other observations. She shouldn’t say anything until the first responder confirmed her suspicions.

“Did you notify Dalton?”

“Not yet. I’d like to get a better assessment of Blinky’s condition first.” Marla thought of her husband, happily at home, relaxing on this Saturday afternoon, along with his teenage daughter, Brianna. Tomorrow was the proper Easter holiday when they were hosting a family dinner.

Sirens sounded in the distance. “You can tell Mrs. Tremayne,” she added, “but don’t let people come out on the lawn. We need to keep the place clear.”

Turmoil erupted as the authorities pulled into the driveway. Marla waved her arms until they spotted her on the lawn. The paramedics approached, carrying their equipment, while Marla snagged the police officer who was first on the scene.

“Hi, I’m the one who called for help,” she mentioned, pointing to the figure on the ground. “I didn’t want to touch anything, or I might have felt for a pulse.”

“You did right to call us, ma’am.” He took one look at the crimson blotch and yanked out his radio. He moved aside to make some calls she couldn’t overhear.

The medics withdrew the prone woman from the bushes. They unzipped her furry white suit and turned her over. Marla had been right in that the headpiece could be removed separately. But as they lifted the bunny head away, she cried out in stunned surprise.

It wasn’t Blinky.

A man’s face greeted her. And from the stranger’s dilated, fixed pupils, he wouldn’t be telling them his identity any time soon. Her gaze swept downward, noting a bloody gash in the costume’s midsection.

Blinky had disappeared, leaving a dead guy in her wake.

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