I am excited to share this review of Trimmed to Death from Midwest Book Review:
Trimmed to Death is the 15th book in the cozy mystery ‘The Bad Hair Day’ series that profiles hairstylist/sleuth Marla Vail. One would think that, with such a long-standing series of adventures behind her, any newcomer to Marla’s world would at least need some degree of prior familiarity with the series, but no such expertise is required in order to delve into the world of South Florida and Marla’s endeavors to succeed.
In this latest story, Marla has entered a local charity bake-off contest at a Fall festival, and stumbles upon the dead body of fellow contestant Francine while she awaits the results. This sets off a chain of events in which Marla uncovers a host of food-related possible perps who each would have had a stake in Francine’s demise.
As Marla plans her own benefit to support a local historical museum, the threat of repeat deaths looms over her promotion plans for her salon and the community.
One reason why Nancy J. Cohen is an award-winning cozy mystery author is that her stories are packed with personality, upbeat scenarios, and the solid pairing of a murder mystery with broader community entanglements. In this story, Marla isn’t just a sole proprietor operating independent of her world; she’s thoroughly connected to the community through her salon and work.
Descriptions are thus nicely crafted and filled with atmosphere and detail that bring Marla’s world to life, sometimes with a touch of ironic observation, as when she and her companion venture into an eclectic restaurant during the course of their investigations and have to confront a decidedly sophisticated menu that challenges their taste buds:
“I don’t see anything here that I like. You didn’t tell me the menu was this eclectic.”
Marla took a look. Crawfish cocktail, conch fritters, gator bites, deviled crabs. Those didn’t appeal to her, either. “How about the guacamole?” she asked in a less than enthusiastic tone. It wouldn’t be her appetizer of choice.
“The dip comes with pita bread. And what’s this pawpaw martini?” Dalton asked.
“Some kind of fruit drink, maybe? We could always get a salad to start.”
“That seems like the best bet. I wouldn’t want the sunray salad. That’s got oranges and onions and cream cheese balls. Ugh.”
As for the investigation itself, it’s filled with the kind of realistic flavor that cements the idea that Marla and her fellow partners in non-crime are not professionals, but informed amateurs:
“Marla drew a stool over to the counter, sat on the vinyl seat, and unwrapped her sandwich. After taking a few bites, she said, “We have some promising leads, but nobody stands out as the main suspect.”
“Who do you have so far? In the mystery novel I just finished, the guilty party was the business partner.”
From fundraiser activity, culinary insights, and probes into Marla’s logic to recipes and romance which pepper the story line and embellish its twists and turns, readers who want a cozy mystery filled with atmosphere, intrigue, and adventure should settle a chair by the fire for a good evening’s read.
Trimmed to Death is a delicious story to savor primarily because the focus on Marla and her community is so realistically and compellingly done that readers will relish the final results and the path that leads Marla and her detective hubby Dalton to move from the concerns of the Cut ’N Dye Salon and Day Spa to probing Francine’s life and the motives of who would want to murder her.”
D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
Digital ISBN: 978-0-9985317-5-5, $4.99, Sept. 25, 2018, Orange Grove Press
Print ISBN: 978-0-9985317-6-2, $14.99, Sept. 25, 2018, Orange Grove Press
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Amazon Print: https://amzn.to/2xXmY57
Amazon Kindle: https://amzn.to/2Kb7oIK
BN Nook: http://bit.ly/2sH9vcH
BN Print: http://bit.ly/2lEUhkB
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/AHwKfK-vTIY