During the frenzy of the December holidays, the last thing salon owner Marla Vail needs is a dead body slathered in a green facial mask at her new day spa. The victim, Valerie Weston, had been a major donor for Friends of Old Florida, a nonprofit historic preservation society. Marla's stylists are scheduled to work backstage at their upcoming gala fashion show, but Val's demise might put a crimp in their plans. Hoping to salvage her reputation, Marla determines to track down the suspects. Although Val had been well liked by most people, she may have stumbled onto secrets that others would kill to keep. What are the connections between a greedy land developer, a dress designer whose husband may have links to the Asian mob, a mortician who might be involved in the human hair trade, and members of the nonprofit group's board of directors? Are the latter as dedicated to their cause as they'd like Marla to believe, or do they have their own self interests at heart? Sparks are sure to fly when this smart stylist joins forces with her sexy detective husband to solve a decades-old mystery that includes a secret journal, pirate tales, and shipwrecks along the Florida coast. With the rollercoaster excitement, you might need a trip to the day spa to relax.
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Be very careful in the beauty salon!
Facials Can be Fatal is the 13th book in Nancy J. Cohen’s Bad Hair Day Mystery Series. Marla Vail is the owner of the Cut 'N Dye hair salon in Palm Haven, Florida. She is a savvy businesswoman who has worked hard to achieve her current success, and she has plenty on her plate right now. Besides running her salon, she has just opened a day spa next door, she and her stylists will be working backstage at an upcoming gala fashion show, she is in the running for a challenging educator position, has just been slapped with a lawsuit by a client who claims Marla burned her scalp, and this is just the business side. In Marla’s personal life, she is approaching her first anniversary with husband Dalton, is stepmother to student-driver teenager Brianna, and is planning holiday celebrations for Christmas and Hanukkah with family and friends.
What Marla doesn’t need is a murder at the day spa. But that is just what happens, and as always Marla is thrown into the middle of things. The reputation of her spa and salon are at stake, and in addition the murder victim was a major donor for Friends of Old Florida, the nonprofit historic preservation society sponsoring the fashion show where her stylists are set to work. As Marla and Dalton begin to investigate they discover this mystery has a little bit of everything and an almost endless list of possible suspects: a greedy land developer, a dress designer whose husband may have links to the Asian mob, a mortician who might be involved in the human hair trade, members of the nonprofit group's board of directors, along with a missing employee and a stolen headpiece that changes color with the mood of its wearer. They also stumble upon a decades-old mystery that includes a secret journal, pirate tales, and shipwrecks along the Florida coast.
Once the action starts it doesn’t stop. The story is complicated, but not so much so that you can’t follow what is happening. Just when you think you’ve figured it out, something happens and you have to stop and think – who is the killer?? You have to pay close attention, but it all comes satisfyingly together in the end.
Nancy J. Cohen’s hot, humid Florida setting is authentic and the mystery-solving journey is exciting, but she also reintroduces us to an interesting, believable recurring cast of characters we have grown to know and (mostly) love. There is Marla’s friend Talley and her husband Ken. Ken always seems to maybe be up to something, and right now Talley doesn’t seem very happy, more so than just the adjustment to having new baby Luke to care for. Maybe a future mystery to solve? And everyone in this cast of characters, including Marla’s mother, in-laws, and Dalton, seems to want Marla to have a baby – except Marla. She has a very firm plan for her and Dalton’s future and a baby does not fit in. But wait – Luke is such a sweet baby and what’s with the warm, fuzzy feeling she gets every time she holds him?
The mysteries in the Bad Hair Day series are great, always fresh and exciting, but Nancy J. Cohen’s real strength is in the people and how she has made Marla grow throughout the series. Marla is still Marla, your typical cozy mystery amateur sleuth – she has good problem-solving skills and wants to set things right, but is not quite as clever as she thinks she is and recklessly gets herself into danger several times. She is independent and strong-willed, which can be hard to take. At times her determination and focus come across as selfish, and her thoughts about and remarks to others are not always kind. But she is loyal and trustworthy and fearless. She and Dalton are a perfect match. He values her opinions and participation in his cases, but he treats her as an equal, which means not always giving in to her. He brings out a softer side of her while acknowledging her strength. She has matured and developed a strong, loving relationship with Dalton and a close, sharing relationship with Brie. It is always exciting to wonder what changes there will be in Marla and rewarding to see how she becomes a better and better person, and happier to boot.
I received an ARC of this book for an honest review. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can’t wait to see what happens to Marla and the crew next. I highly recommend this book and the entire series.