Mystery Reviews 

Hair Raiser
by Nancy J. Cohen
Kensington, 2000
ISBN:  1-57566-622-7

The second book in Nancy J. Cohen’s “Bad Hair Day Mysteries” begins with hair stylist Marla Shore taking a cooking class from one of South Florida’s top chefs.  The opening scene explores the sensuality of food.  You could even say the class goes down in flames. 

Marla, recovering from injuries to her hands from the climax of Permed to Death, has been taking time off from the salon to help her cousin Cynthia with Taste of the World, an Ocean Guard fund-raising event.   Ocean Guard is the environmental reserve that border’s Cynthia’s home.  The fund-raiser is extremely important to Ocean Guard, because if the organization can’t raise the monetary quota to fulfill the requirements of the trust, the land transfers to the estate heir.    

Things are happening to make Marla suspicious that the heir is taking matters into action to make sure he or she ends up with the property.  Someone is sabotaging the chefs to make them drop out of the event.  Medical waste is being dumped in Ocean Guard, which could cause them to lose it as well as damaging the ecosystem.  Then estate attorney and board member Ben Kline is murdered. 

Marla Shore takes her responsibility to Taste of the World seriously and is determined to help her cousin solve this mystery by finding the murderer.  Someone leaves a decapitated duck in a bag on her doorstep in hopes of discouraging her.  They don’t know Marla. 

Marla’s cousin Cynthia plays matchmaker for Marla with accountant and board member David Newberg.  He is everything her family would like for her, but she doesn’t feel the chemistry that she feels for Detective Dalton Vail.  Yet, Marla not looking for a commitment, continues the relationship because she enjoys his company.  They go to a Moroccan restaurant and a weekend in the Bahamas (separate rooms, of course).   

David’s presence in Marla’s life sparks jealousy in Dalton Vail.  He introduces Marla to his daughter, and the three go out to dinner and a theatrical musical.  Dalton discourages Marla’s attempts to investigate this case, but knows she is stubborn and strong-willed.  Marla disappointed that Dalton will not share what he knows about the case, turns to David to be her partner solving this mystery.  But why does David keep hounding her for the phone number on the envelope that Ben Kline gave her?  Doesn’t he own a phone book? 

Like Permed to Death, Hair Raiser will keep the reader guessing till the surprising end.  And like the best food, it is spicy and will leave the reader with a pleasing fullness. 

Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews

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