Book Review

Permed to Death

Permed to Death

Bad Hair Day mysteries #1

Nancy J. Cohen

Orange Grove Press, Mar 2016

269 pages

Cozy mystery

Purchased for Kindle app


Well, the cover shows the story, but I really don’t find it attractive. The colors are gaudy, sorry. Just too many colors for a cover. And the main character is really quite conservative in the way she dresses, so I can’t picture her salon looking like this. But this definitely is a picture of the first crisis in the story.

The story is pretty good though. Marla is a beauty salon owner who really enjoys making her clients look and feel better. In fact, in her head, each person she meets, she analyses how they look and what could make them look better. And she’s always offering to make them look better next time they’re in her shop. In the opening scene, Marla is doing the hair of a fussy older client. She gives the client a perm and a cup of coffee made the client’s special way, then Marla steps into the backroom for something. When she comes out of the back, the client is dead. The cop on the case, Detective Vail, has no better suspect than Marla until she gets going to solve the case herself. The other stylists in her shop start coming up with ideas. Her friends and family come up with ideas as well. And comparing notes with the handsome detective proves dangerous to her heart and blood pressure. But finally another suspect proves to be guilty and Marla is off the hook with Detective Vail, at least for murder. For romance, he’s still got his eye on her.

The pace is brisk and the characters are pretty good. It’s the first book for a cozy mystery series, which puts it in a difficult position. First books are notorious for trying to “set the scene” for the whole series. And being a cozy can mean that it is just too cute or too busy with too many of the community’s characters running around. In this case, I think it suffers a bit from both. It does try to set the scene a bit, but it doesn’t really suffer from it much. Marla runs around a bit showing off her Florida location to us so we’ll know her community for the next time. Not too bad. As for too many of the community’s characters, yeah, Marla simply seems to know too many people in this one. But, she really does know almost everyone in town. So, I guess we can forgive that. It doesn’t suffer from cuteness, though. I think the premise is really fun. Where else can you learn all the gossip in town but from the barber or the hairdresser? I certainly talk to my hairdresser, don’t you? So making Marla a hairdresser is perfect. And, of course, the romantic interest should be the local detective. This one has a 12-year-old daughter who resents Marla on sight. There’s an ex-husband for Marla as well. Toss in the fact that Marla’s Jewish and her Mom’s always trying to get her remarried as all good Jewish mothers are supposed to do. Well, it really makes for lots of fun aside from the murder. It’s good enough that I’m about to read the next book in the series, Hair Raiser. Recommended.

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