Star Tangled Murder

  • Publisher: Orange Grove Press
  • Series: The Bad Hair Day Mysteries , 18
  • Release Date: March 14, 2023
  • Genre: Cozy Mystery
  • Available Formats: eBook and Paperback
  • Digital: 978-1-952886-24-9
  • Paperback: 978-1-952886-25-6

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Hairstylist Marla Vail and her husband get tangled up in murder when their Fourth of July visit to a living history village ends with a bang—and a body.

Salon owner Marla Vail and her detective husband Dalton are having a blast visiting a Florida living history village over Fourth of July weekend. But when a Seminole battle reenactment turns up a real dead body, it sets off fireworks among the villagers. One of the cast members has gone off script to murder the town marshal with a tomahawk.

As Dalton gets involved in the investigation, Marla determines to help him solve the case. Her flare for uncovering secrets reveals that everyone in the village is a suspect. Instead of celebrating the holiday with red, white, and barbecues, she discovers secrets, lies, and false avenues. Did the marshal’s murder have anything to do with a lost Confederate payroll, or did his plans to renovate the park light a fuse that he couldn’t snuff out?

In a place where history comes alive, the dead bodies are piling up. Marla would rather be chilling and grilling, but somebody’s mind is on killing. If she’s not careful, her sleuthing might blow up in her face like a faulty firecracker and she’ll become the next victim. Recipes Included!

Note: Reader Discussion Guide is available.

Awards & Accolades:

Silver Medal Winner in the FAPA President’s Book Awards
Finalist in the IAN Book of the Year Awards
Honorable Mention in the Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards

           Short List Chanticleer International Book Awards

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“The charming, witty page-turner follows hairstylist Marla Vail and her detective husband Dalton. When the vacationing couple learn that a Seminole battle reenactment in the living history village they’re visiting turns deadly, Dalton and Marla get mixed up in the investigation. They soon discover the shocking lies and secrets that this historical Florida village holds.” Carissa C. Mosness, Woman’s World

“Nancy J. Cohen captures the feel of a living history village. The primary theme revolves around history through the village as well as being set during Fourth of July and digging into Seminole history. Cohen displays a genuine respect for history as Marla dives into secrets surrounding this village and the danger that goes with it. Another delightful installment brought to life, Star Tangled Murder finds Marla facing more changes in her life as she investigates a murder that connects to history while she balances motherhood, the salon, and sleuthing.” Liz Konkel, Readers’ Favorite

“Marla and Dalton have a unique marriage. She has frequently been helpful in some of her husband’s previous cases, since she’s able to ferret out information that formal police interviews can’t. Once again, with Dalton’s encouragement, she begins to nose around. Between the two of them, they discover that most people employed as villagers have a checkered past…Star Tangled Murder shines with excellent plotting, lots of twists and turns, and a satisfying ending. Highly recommended.” Susan Santangelo, Suspense Magazine

“History and mystery entangle in unusual manners as the story unfolds, revealing a series of lies and possibilities that become even more convoluted and puzzling as Marla and Dalton delve deeper. As the history and more murders evolve, the duo finds themselves ever more twisted in a mystery that leads Marla to consider when to obey her more savvy husband’s detective edicts and instincts and when to embark on her own course of action. The result is delightful in its progressive unfolding of facts and fancies, cemented by characters that encounter a strange twist on American history and pursue these links to their surprising conclusions. Libraries seeking cozy mysteries replete in psychological strength and American history drama will find Star Tangled Murder a compelling portrait of a historical reenactment gone awry.” D. Donovan, Sr. Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

“Star Tangled Murder is the perfect mashup of history and mystery. Every detail that unfolds works alongside the living history village, where every piece of evidence is compared to its purpose in history. The way the historical information is presented in the novel is done with entertainment in mind and never once feels forced or textbook. In fact, it only adds to the interesting concept of the village and the overarching plot. The story starts with a bang, but the plot does not die there. There are twists and turns that will keep the reader on their toes every step of the way. Dalton and Marla have such an interesting relationship that is entertaining to read as they work together to solve the mysteries that keep revealing themselves. Nancy J. Cohen does an incredible job creating a dynamic storyline, with constant suspense, purposeful dialogue, and a beautiful ending.” Sadie Wilson, InD’Tale Magazine

The mystery was truly a tangled one… every suspect had a motive and some kind of opportunity. Star Tangled Murder was full of twists, secrets, and lies making it a very compelling cozy mystery. And while all my questions about this current case were answered the final pages gave me a few more. The author leaves these characters in a really good place but I don’t think this will be the last we see of them, at least I hope not. I am very interested to see what the author has planned. Escape with Dollycas Into A Good Book

“I like the fact that Marla and the detective (her husband) do not butt heads and he appreciates the help. This is very refreshing and different from a lot of cozies that I read. The writing style flows smoothly and the book is an easy read. The author is very talented in her descriptive writing and these descriptions helped pull me into the story from the very beginning. The murder was well plotted and not easily solved. There were enough clues to sift through and suspects to consider and Marla has her hands full trying to help solve it. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted cozy mystery. Grab the book and try to solve the mystery.” Mary Brown, MJB Reviewers

“Star Tangled Murder by Nancy J. Cohen is fantastic. I love the interesting hobbies and the whole Pioneer Village setting. Will Marla figure out who killed the marshal before the murderer gets her?… Ms. Cohen always gives us a little something extra. During this installment, we learn about the history of buttons, some things about doll collectors, and the whole pioneer village aspect. I genuinely love how Ms. Cohen entertains and teaches us simultaneously… I love hanging out with Marla and her family and friends. Ms. Cohen’s mysteries have so many things happening, and everything is happening quickly. I highly recommend Star Tangled Murder to everyone.” Jen at Baroness’ Book Trove

“This was a cute, lighthearted mystery full of love of family, friends, and neighborly friendliness. I wish real life was like the town in this book. I liked Marla and her husband, Dalton. They were both easy to like and were similar to real-life people. I also liked that the story took place in Florida. It was easy to picture the scene in my head as most people have been to Florida at some point in their lives. It’s also sunny and warm there. I liked the plot of the story and how fast the author moved the story along so that the reader didn’t get confused or bored with the plot. If the reader is looking for a cute mystery to entertain them, I suggest Star Tangled Murder and settle in for a fun time.” Lori Van Buren, Novels Alive

“By this time in their marriage, Homicide Detective Dalton Vail has become accustomed to his wife’s amateur murder investigations. In fact, Dalton asks for Marla’s help as she has a hairstylist’s gift for encouraging confidences and coaxing out information from suspects once they are comfortably seated in her chair. Through Marla’s visits to the exhibitions and her salon-induced interrogations, she and her friends winnow down the suspects as they filter through alibis and narrow down motives… This 18th of the series is sure to please long-time fans as it brings back favorite characters and gives them their appropriate happy endings.” Cynthia Chow, KRL News & Reviews

“Readers cannot help but love this series and I would say with EIGHTEEN books in the series, there are a lot of fans !!  And now with Dalton retiring and changing to a less stressful job and Marla cutting back hours at the salon, things have to be much quieter for them…..but knowing Cohen I can only imagine what will happen next….and I am sure readers are going to love it !!!” Missi Stockwell Martin, Cozy Mystery Book Reviews

“The storytelling with respect to the various areas of the village they visited were riveting and so detail oriented that I really felt like I was there! If you enjoy a well-paced cozy mystery with interesting characters, pick up the latest installment of the Bad Hair Day Mysteries and settle in for an enjoyable whodunit by Nancy J. Cohen.” Dawn Noelle, Open Book Society

“Nancy Cohen’s Bad Hair Day mysteries are fun and educational. I love the location is set in Florida… Nancy has me surfing the web, checking out all the historical tidbits and locales… She shares some wonderful recipes at the end of the book, so you may want to whip something up before you start the mystery, because it will keep you reading.” Sherry J. Fundin, Fundinmental

“Nancy J. Cohen has done an outstanding job of bring Marla and her crew to life with each book.  I feel as if I’ve come to know Marla and reading this series is like visiting with old friends. I’m always excited to read another entry in this series… A fun, exciting, humorous cozy mystery with realistic characters. A definite winner in my book.” Yvonne Hering, Socrates’ Book Reviews

“Overall, this is a well written and plotted mystery, with plenty of suspects and motives to keep anyone guessing. I thought I had it figured out, but kept changing my mind as more information came out. The heartwarming wrap-up of the story left me content and cheering on the upcoming changes in Marla and Dalton’s lives. If you enjoy a good cozy mystery with a great setting and enjoyable setting, I recommend you pick this one up.” Carla Johnson-Hicks, Carla Loves to Read

“Cohen once again writes a story that keeps the reader engaged, has twists and turns, and moves at a steady pace. If you’ve liked others in this series, you’ll surely enjoy this one. If you’ve not read any, I strongly suggest you start at the beginning.” Christa Nardi, Christa Reads and Writes

“With such a long-running series, I’m always impressed that the author comes up with unique themes and ways to murder the victim. And, in this newest release, she proves once again to know how to entertain her readers… The pace of the mystery was spot-on, and while there are historical details intertwined with the story, it didn’t slow it down… The heartwarming wrap-up of the story left me content and cheering on the upcoming changes in Marla and Dalton’s lives.” Kim Davis, Cinnamon and Sugar and A Little Bit of Murder

“So many suspects kept me guessing who the killer could be. Meanwhile, Ryder is almost a toddler, Brianna is ready to leave for college, and Dalton is ready to retire. I hope this book is not the last one in the series!” Ana Kurland, Mostly Cozy Librarian

“Put this one on your TBR list. The various characters are people you could know, all with their own lives and stories. You’ll like them. In addition, Marla is a strong female character, one determined not to put herself in danger but, well, life happens.” June Price, Sunhusky’s Daisy Reads 2

“Marla Vail captivated me from the beginning, with her big heart, moxie, and unerring inner compass for finding hidden truths. She is an amateur sleuth of the first-order, and she draws me in with her compassion and desire to help. I kept turning the pages of Star Tangled Murder because I had to know what came next. I enjoyed the new-to-me Florida history revealed in the story, and I was fascinated about the buttons. An A-plus mystery in a compelling cozy series. Recommended.” Muddy Rose Reviews

“This was a fun read and one that I couldn’t put down until the end.” April Brown, April Brown’s Reviews

“I love how Marla gets her friends interested in the mysteries that she and Dalton solve. Marla and Dalton are just out for a fun day learning about history when a dead body is discovered. The historical village they are visiting has plenty of suspects working there. As Marla asks more questions, the more someone tries to stop her. Marla just knows that if she helps Dalton narrow down the suspect list, they can get this solved in no time. I liked their surprise at the end.” Julia David, Julia David’s Reviews

“This story deals with a death at a local historical village set on town council property. I found the story well-plotted and with plenty of action. I learned a lot about varietal teas and wasn’t aware that black tea grew in the United States. I recommend the series and this book to those that are looking for a strong female lead who can balance work, home, and a penchant for investigating murders.” Kathleen’s Reviews

“I am a big fan of Nancy J. Cohen’s A Bad Hair Day Mystery series with its strong female lead, a healthy family dynamic, realistic use of official resources (it’s her husband; although he’s set to retire), several Google worthy elements incorporated, and a well-written, witty story with sensory-laden description in which to immerse readers. This eighteenth book presents a clever mystery, still as fresh and engaging, challenging my arm-chair detective, and a bit of Florida history to explore. Although so much has evolved through the series in terms of relationships, skills sets, tragedies and triumphs, newbies can easily join in and enjoy.” Kathleen Costa

“This was a very light-hearted book to read. I warmed to the characters, and found them fun and entertaining. It was quirky, and it filled my craving for a cosy murder mystery. I found that towards the end, there were some moments that particularly made me smile.” Kelly Purdy, Kelly Marie Purdy’s Reviews

“A super entry in this series. I really enjoyed it and found the mystery well written. Looking forward to more in this successful series in the future.” Cindi Austin., LittleRead’s Reviews

“A day of fun, historical reenactment and a living history village experience turned into a murder investigation that needs to be solved before anyone else gets hurt. With suspects galore, Marla is trying her best to assist and untangle all the clues. All while her own surprise is brewing. Fun series to dive into. Polina Posner. Polina Posner’s Reviews

“I thoroughly enjoyed this latest adventure with Marla. Cohen does an excellent job of making Marla seem like a real person while expertly blending in the mystery, resulting in a fresh yet familiar story that you will love. The wrap up of both the case and the latest family/friends happenings is terrific.” Sally Schmidt, Sally’s Reviews

“A historical reenactment, a mini picnic, site seeing, and a pioneer village? Sign me up!…  Marla is a strong woman who takes good care of those she loves but is also smart enough to realize that she has others counting on her and so she does try to tread more carefully… I highly enjoyed this book and I recommend it to other readers, especially those that appreciate a historical element to their cozies.” Sarah Woodhouse, Sarah Woodhouse’s Reviews

“This was a fun quick read with likeable characters and plenty of red herrings, I can’t wait to read the next book in this series!” Shirley Ann Stevens, Shirley Ann Steven’s Reviews

” enjoy this series as the characters are well developed and the recurring cast are people I would like to hang out with. Marla juggles her salon, her marriage, being a mother, all get her attention in a very real way. The mystery kept my attention and had me guessing wrong. An excellent escape from everyday stress.” Susan’s Reviews

“This is just not about cutting hair it’s about history too and you learn. A lot about what happened in the past. This was a fun book to read. I love the setting and the characters.” Barbara B., NetGalley Reviewer

“I have read all the books in this series and I love them and can’t wait for the next book in the series to come out! This book did not disappoint! I loved the adventures that Marla and her husband experience. And how they continued to work as a team to solve the latest murder. This book has me wanting to take a road trip to the fairgrounds to visit the little village.” Carol M., NetGalley Reviewer

“This is a fun, easy to read, entertaining and enjoyable book. Hairstylist Marla Vail and her husband are great characters in this cosy murder mystery and they bring such life to their investigations and to the story in general. Not too long and with a few twists, this is a good read for a day when you just feel like relaxing with a good book.” Donna R., NetGalley Reviewer 

“A fast-paced mystery that includes some interesting Florida history. An enjoyable read that should definitely be on your list. Read the series you will love it.” Linda M., BN Reviewer

“Marla and Dalton visit a historic village near their hometown in Florida. Sounds fun until the Sheriff gets axed! There are loads of suspects to choose from. The characters are believable… All in all, it’s a fun read. Grab a cup of your favorite beverage and enjoy!” Renee W., NetGalley Reviewer

“This was the charming, familiar cozy I wanted and needed when I picked it up! Loved the setting, the characters, and the mystery kept me entertained. Sometimes nothing compares with an old, familiar favorite!” Tammy H., NetGalley Reviewer

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2023 by Nancy J. Cohen