STYLED FOR MURDER, #17 in The Bad Hair Day Mysteries, is available for preorder!
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? Recipes Included!
PERMED TO DEATH, #1 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, is on sale for one week only!
Hairstylist Marla Shore has a bad hair day when she’s suspected of poisoning her client’s coffee creamer. Buy now at Kobo or Amazon
In this trio of adventures, hairstylist sleuth Marla Vail discovers the matron of honor stabbed to death under the cake table at her friend Jill’s wedding. She gets married and moves into a new house with a dead body next door. Her honeymoon at a dude ranch turns dangerous when ghosts from the past stir up more trouble than the horses.
Hairstylist Marla Shore is weeks away from becoming a bride when she walks down the aisle as a bridesmaid at her friend Jill’s ceremony. Things take a turn for the worse when the matron of honor ends up dead under the cake table. Lots of folks aren’t sorry to see Torrie go, especially since the bride’s sister knew their deepest secrets. But when suspicion falls upon Jill, Marla wonders if her dear friend is truly innocent. She’d better untangle the snarl of suspects and iron out the clues before the killer highlights her as the next victim.
“Shear Murder is another stellar outing in Nancy J. Cohen’s Bad Hair Day mystery series.” Lorna Barrett, bestselling author of the Booktown Mysteries
HANGING BY A HAIR
Marla’s joyous move to a new house with her detective husband, Dalton, is marred by their next-door neighbor who erects an illegal fence between their properties. When Dalton reminds the man of local permitting laws, tempers flare—and worse, the neighbor is found dead the following day. Before her husband’s investigation can begin, he is removed from the case due to a conflict of interest. Now it’s up to Marla to clear his name and make the neighborhood safe again.
Suspense Magazine “Best of 2014” Cozy Mystery
“Marla is short for marvelous. If you like your mysteries ‘cozy,’ you’re going to enjoy every minute you spend with her!” Joanna Campbell Slan, bestselling author of the Kiki Lowenstein Mysteries
PERIL BY PONYTAIL
Marla and Dalton’s honeymoon at an Arizona dude ranch veers from dangerous to downright deadly faster than a horse headed to the corral. With her husband’s uncle—the resort owner—on the suspect list for murder, Marla races to prove his innocence. She hopes her blind trust isn’t misplaced, especially when she learns Uncle Ray has secrets he’d rather keep buried. With her new family in jeopardy, she’d better saddle up her sleuthing skills to figure out who’s adding to the spirits at a nearby ghost town before someone she loves gets hurt.
Third Place Winner in the Arizona Literary Awards
“Peril by Ponytail ropes in the reader in Nancy J. Cohen’s captivating new tale, which deftly braids together deadly secrets, long hidden resentments, and romance on the range.” Ellen Byerrum, bestselling author of the Crime of Fashion Mysteries
Enola Holmes is back! Nancy Springer’s nationally bestselling series and breakout Netflix sensation returns to beguile readers young and old in Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche.
NANCY SPRINGER is the author of the nationally bestselling Enola Holmes novels, including The Case of the Missing Marquess, which was made into the hit Netflix movie, Enola Holmes. She is the author of more than 50 other books for children and adults. She has won many awards, including two Edgar Awards, and has been published in more than thirty countries. She lives in Florida.
Q: What inspired you to write the Enola Holmes series?
NS: My literary agent suggested writing books with a “classic chassis,” so I did some set in the King Arthur mythos, and some based on legends of Robin Hood, and then moved on to the world of Sherlock Holmes.
Q: How do you feel about the film based on your book?
NS: I love it, which surprises me, because I don’t generally like the movies based on books I respect. Actually, I don’t generally like movies, period. I find them too intense. They make me shake, and give me bad dreams.
Q: Are you planning to write more titles in the series?
NS: I’m working right now on another Enola Holmes novel. I don’t yet have a title for it, and who knows whether it will ever be published? There’s no way I can tell at this point whether it will be good enough.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge with this series so far?
NS: The amount of research I’ve had to do. Getting the historical setting correct.
Q: What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
NS: To stick to one genre, which I totally have not done. Or do you mean writing advice? I had good advice early on about story logic, and synchronizing the psychodrama with the external drama, and lingering longer with the most emotional scenes.
ENOLA HOLMES AND THE BLACK BAROUCHE
Enola Holmes is the much younger sister of her more famous brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft. But she has all the wits, skills, and sleuthing inclinations of them both. At fifteen, she’s an independent young woman–after all, her name spelled backwards reads ‘alone’–and living on her own in London. When a young professional woman, Miss Letitia Glover, shows up on Sherlock’s doorstep, desperate to learn more about the fate of her twin sister, it is Enola who steps up. It seems her sister, the former Felicity Glover, married the Earl of Dunhench and per a curt note from the Earl, has died. But Letitia Glover is convinced this isn’t the truth, that she’d know–she’d feel–if her twin had died.
The Earl’s note is suspiciously vague and the death certificate is even more dubious, signed it seems by a John H. Watson, M.D. (who denies any knowledge of such). The only way forward is for Enola to go undercover–or so Enola decides at the vehement objection of her brother. And she soon finds out that this is not the first of the Earl’s wives to die suddenly and vaguely–and that the secret to the fate of the missing Felicity is tied to a mysterious black barouche that arrived at the Earl’s home in the middle of the night. To uncover the secrets held tightly within the Earl’s hall, Enola is going to require help–from Sherlock, from the twin sister of the missing woman, and from an old friend, the young Viscount Tewkesbury, Marquess of Basilwether!
Enola Holmes returns in her first adventure since the hit Netflix movie brought her back on the national bestseller lists, introducing a new generation to this beloved character and series.
My Book Review
I stumbled across the Enola Holmes YA mysteries by accident. I’d seen the Netflix film and absolutely loved it. Naturally, I had to follow up with the books, which I proceeded to devour. When offered the opportunity to host Nancy on her upcoming blog tour for Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche, I leapt at the chance.
Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche by Nancy Springer
In this enthralling adventure, Enola Holmes and her brother Sherlock accept a case involving a missing woman. The client has received word from her twin sister’s husband that Lady Felicity had caught a fever and died. He had her body cremated. The twin doesn’t believe a word of this odd message and hires the sleuthing duo to find out what really happened. When it turns out the Earl of Dunhench’s first wife expired in a similar manner, Enola believes it can’t be a coincidence. Using her skills at disguise, she gains entry to the nobleman’s gloomy mansion. Here her situation rapidly deteriorates as she begins to suspect the horrifying truth. Suspenseful and clever, this story is one you won’t be able to put down.
Meet Marla Shore, a Florida hairstylist and salon owner with a knack for styling hair and solving crimes. In this trio of cozy mysteries, Marla stays at a haunted hotel, works at a beauty trade show, and sails on a Caribbean cruise with a killer onboard.
DEAD ROOTS Hairstylist Marla Shore is eager to introduce her fiancé, Detective Dalton Vail, to her extended family over Thanksgiving weekend at Sugar Crest Plantation Resort. Their festive turkey dinner turns into a serious bad hair day when she finds her aunt suffocated in bed. Aunt Polly isn’t the only ghost at this haunted hotel. Marla uncovers secrets and skeletons that should have stayed buried. It’ll take all her sleuthing skills to untangle the clues and root out the killer, even if it means exposing her family’s unsavory past.
“Dead Roots has all the right ingredients for a great hair day, absolutely fun, winsome characters, a fast‑paced, wonderful mystery read!” Heather Graham, NY Times Bestselling Author
PERISH BY PEDICURE Salon owner and amateur sleuth Marla Shore ends up fixing more than just hair at a Fort Lauderdale beauty show. When the much‑disliked director of Luxor Beauty Products is murdered, Marla finds herself investigating a quirky group of industry characters including a pompous celebrity stylist, an ambitious salesman, and a rival hairdresser.
“Find your favorite beach chair and a tall glass of lemonade to enjoy another Marla Shore mystery amidst the fashionistas! The perfect read for a beach chair or under the hair dryer.” Nancy Martin, author of the Blackbird Sisters mystery series
KILLER KNOTS Florida hairstylist Marla Shore hopes for a romantic interlude with her fiancé on a Caribbean cruise, but troubled waters lie ahead when their dinner companions disappear one-by-one. Then Marla learns a killer is along for the ride. Onboard art auctions, ports of call, and sumptuous buffets beckon, but she ignores temptation and musters her sleuthing skills to expose the culprit. She’d better find him fast, before her next shore excursion turns into a trip to Davy Jones’s locker.
“Delightful…The Love Boat meets Sex and the City. A charming heroine and a hero to die for, pick this one up posthaste!” MaryJanice Davidson, NY Times Bestselling Author
When writing a cozy mystery, you need to decide upon crime scene details even though interpersonal relations, and not forensics, are your story’s focus. The murder might even be off scene, but you’ll still have to determine how it happened.
In Trimmed to Death, the story begins at a farm festival bake-off contest, which my hairstylist sleuth Marla Vail enters as a contestant. But I was stymied regarding the setting because our city’s fairs were held at athletic fields or local parks. I was telling this to my manicurist when she suggested Bedner’s Farm as a possible model for my story. The next day, my husband and I drove north to visit this farm in Boynton Beach. See my post for a report on this visit. The varied structures and grounds were ideal for my purposes, but I’d move my fictional site nearer to Marla’s hometown.
Now what? I had to select a victim. Spoiler alert!
After looking up farm festivals online, I decided my story would include a live scavenger hunt with the prize going to the guest who collected all of the stamps. Francine Dodger is the final target of the festival’s Find Franny game. Unfortunately, she is slated to die.
Next, consider the five Ws to expand the details.
Who ends up dead? Francine is the victim.
Where is she killed? In the strawberry field. How does she arrive there? Is she lured on purpose, or it is a crime of opportunity? Did the killer follow her? Determine Where-dunit.
How does she die? Will it look like an accident or right away be clear it’s a homicide? Water-filled canals line the U-pick rows. She could be drowned in a ditch. Or she can fall down a silo and smother in the grain. But what would make her climb up there in the first place? Or maybe we should run her over by a tractor.
What knowledge does the killer need? If the murder involves an equipment accident, it’ll have to be someone who knows how to operate the machinery. Ditto the hazards inside a silo. You don’t want to point the finger at a particular suspect like the farmer, because it’s too obvious. Maybe give one of the other characters a secret history of working on a farm or of selling agricultural machinery if you go this route.
If you poison a victim, who has knowledge about the type of poison plus has access to it? Is it fast-acting enough for the circumstances, or do you need a slower more insidious death? What are the particular symptoms? In a cozy mystery, we want to avoid anything messy or too graphic.
When does it happen? Think about not only about the time of death, but also why not a week or a month ago? Why NOW? What happened to trigger the killer at this point in time?
How does the killer get away? Does he have blood on his clothes? Are his shoes wet or muddy? Is he able to blend back into the crowd at the farm festival?
Now let’s throw a wrench into the works. What if it’s a case of mistaken identity? The murderer thought he had killed one woman, but he got somebody else who was similarly attired. How will he react upon seeing his intended victim alive and well? This leads to another set of problems. It means he can’t see the victim’s face before he kills her, or he’ll realize it’s the wrong person. So again, we go back to Howdunit?
Once you figure out these details, you’ll have to determine how your amateur sleuth stumbles across the dead body. And this is when the story actually begins.
When writing a cozy mystery, you need to identify the victim and then figure out who has something to gain from this person’s death. It can be friends, relatives, or colleagues. Give each person a secret that may or may not provide a motive for murder.
Next figure out how these people relate to each other. Imagine a spider web. Put the murder victim in the center circle. The spokes coming from the center are the suspects. These spokes have branches that are their motives. Then connect these people to each other like a web. If you want to see this web of deceit illustrated, pick up a copy of my book, Writing the Cozy Mystery.
Here are examples from Trimmed to Death to show you how it’s done. Hairstylist Marla Vail enters a bake-off contest at a local farm during a fall festival. She finds a dead body face-down in the u-pick strawberry field. Spoiler Alert!
Tally Riggs, Marla’s best friend, met Becky Forest at a local historical museum. Becky told Tally about the bake-off, who invited Marla to participate with her. Here is Becky in her office.
Becky, a scientist, is a cookbook author and curator of the museum. She studies plant remains of ancient peoples, including early Florida food practices. Every time Becky has a new cookbook out, she’s a guest on Chef Raquel Hayes’ TV show.
Raquel, a judge at the bake-off contest and a TV chef, did something in the past that could cause a scandal. Francine Dodger recognizes her on TV and threatens to spill her secret.
Francine, a contestant at the bake-off, is a food magazine editor. While researching an article on the farm, she uncovers something that could ruin the owners’ reputation.
Zach Kinsdale, eldest brother of four siblings who run the family farm, hasn’t told his two brothers and sister Janet about this looming disaster.
Janet is married to Tony, who runs an import-export business. He sells his imported olive oils to Zach for the farm’s marketplace. But Janet suspects something is unethical about her husband’s business. She organized the bake-off since her husband’s company is a festival sponsor.
Tony, Janet’s husband, is worried about an exposé that Francine has mentioned. He’s also concerned about Tristan Marsh, pastry chef at The Royal Palate and a judge at the show. Tristan has been making inquiries that concern him. Then there’s Alyce Greene, a blogger who supports the farm-to-table movement. She has been troublesome as well.
Alyce is a contestant at the bake-off. She’s married to Jon, a food truck operator. Jon got a loan to start his business from Alyce’s brother, Steve Madison. Steve, an investment advisor, manages Tony’s accounts.
And so on. You see how these people are interrelated. It helps when the puzzle pieces fit together as a whole, but this process may take a while. In the meantime, allow your subconscious to stew on your characters until story magic happens. The connections will pop into your brain. It’s a joyful moment when this occurs.
Meet Marla Shore, a Florida hairstylist and salon owner with a knack for styling hair and solving crimes. In this trio of adventures, Marla helps her ex-spouse solve a murder, searches for her missing pet-loving neighbor, and stumbles across the body of a rival hairdresser.
BODY WAVE – Book 4
In a story braided with unexpected twists and curls, salon owner Marla Shore takes on a role as nurse’s aide for wealthy Miriam Pearl. While Marla snoops into the elderly matriarch’s affairs, her boyfriend, Detective Dalton Vail, is afraid that the only affair she’ll snag is with her ex-spouse, Stan. Juggling work at her salon, crime solving, and two amorously inclined males, Marla fights a race against time to save Stan before the dashing detective nails him for murder. RONE Award Winner!
“Ms. Cohen’s plot has more twists than a French braid, and Marla is a shear delight.” Joanne Fluke, author of the Hannah Swensen mysteries
HIGHLIGHTS TO HEAVEN – Book 5
Hairstylist and amateur sleuth Marla Shore lands a case close to home when her animal-loving neighbor—a man aptly named Goat—disappears, leaving his pets alone and a dead body in his master bedroom. Even more disturbing is the pattern of highlights Marla notes in the victim’s hair. She recognizes the signature technique of her former mentor, master stylist Cutter Corrigan. Soon she’s untangling clues that link Goat, Cutter, and the unsavory pet fur trade to her own past. Someone at her former beauty school has a hair-raising secret worth killing to keep.
“Full of twists and turns, great characters, and an interesting setting. Who could ask for more?” Denise Swanson, author of the Scumble River mystery series
DIED BLONDE – Book 6
Hairstylist Marla Shore stumbles over her rival’s body in the meter room behind their competing salons. When her boyfriend, hunky Detective Dalton Vail, asks for her help in solving the murder, she jumps on the case. The stakes rise when the victim’s trusted psychic warns her that someone she loves is in danger. Her investigation takes her to a smoky bingo parlor, a spooky town run by spiritualists, and sunny Delray Beach. But what scares Marla the most is her relationship with Dalton that takes a surprising turn.
“Nancy Cohen has penned another follicle‑raising frolic with a wry twist of romance.” P.J. Parrish, NY Times Bestselling Author
Enter Here July 1-18 to win a free book from Booklover’s Bench in our monthly giveaway.
Summer Book Blast Celebration – July 8, 2021
Save the date! Join us for a fun Summer Book Blast Celebration with 6 authors, prizes, and giveaways! The Facebook party is Thursday, July 8 at 8:00 – 9:30 pm EDT https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty
“And the Women Gather” Annual Book Event – Aug. 21, 2021