Styled for Murder (Bad Hair Day Mysteries)
by Nancy J. Cohen
I am excited to welcome Nancy J. Cohen to Escape With Dollycas today!
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I wrote my first novel when I was attending grad school to become a Clinical Nurse Specialist. I retired from nursing to write full-time when our kids were born and haven’t looked back since. My professional writing career started with sci-fi romance published by Dorchester and Wild Rose Press. Then I switched to mysteries when Kensington signed me on for the Bad Hair Day mystery series featuring hairstylist and salon owner Marla Vail.
Besides tending to her clients, Marla has a knack for teasing the truth from suspects. Styled for Murder is book #17 in this series. In total, I’ve published 25 full-length novels, a novella, a short story, a cookbook, and a writing guide. My latest works have been published independently as I wanted to take control of the book production process.
I write full-time in a dedicated home office in Central Florida where I live with my retired husband. We moved here fairly recently to be near our children and grandson. I like to explore the area and write about it on my blog. As for what I like to read, I enjoy genre fiction – historical romance, cozy and historical mystery, and sci-fi/fantasy. I look for stories with humor and romance, which are the elements I try to include in my books. My aim is to entertain. As reading is my escape, I hope to bring the same experience to you.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I enjoy researching a new book. I’ll start by doing whatever preliminary research I need to do online to formulate the background setting and get started on the plot. Then I’ll look for interesting items that catch my eye so I can learn about them and incorporate these factoids into my stories. For Styled for Murder, this included such eclectic topics as edible gold, propane gas, copper thefts, home remodel scams, origins of bone china, and health benefits of garlic. I love learning something new with each book. This gives me the spark of inspiration to write the story and makes it exciting for me.
Do you ever suffer from Writer’s Block?
I’ve been stuck when I feel I’ll finish the book too early. That’s when I go back and reread what I’ve written to see what threads could be expanded. I’ll also discuss the possibilities with my critique group who are always helpful. Otherwise, I write a synopsis before I begin the story, so I have a definite direction to follow. Outside distractions are the biggest cause of writer’s block. When we moved last December, I didn’t write for about six months.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Join the professional writing community. Take webinars and online classes, attend meetings when available, participate in a critique group. Set daily and weekly writing goals and stick to them. Give yourself permission to write a draft that will need work but at least get it done. Then don’t give up through the submission process. Learn all you can about the business aspects of writing from other authors and keep learning. Follow the 3 P’s – Persistence, Practice, and Professionalism.
When you are not writing what do you like to do?
I like to read, dine out, explore the area, cruise to the Caribbean, and visit Disney World. I love Florida living and enjoy the varied ecosystems, attractions and cultures in this diverse state. And I’m a fan of the Hallmark channel movies and mysteries. That’s what I watch on TV, along with some superhero shows.
How has the COVID pandemic affected you and your writing?
All my in-person events have been cancelled. I’ve been doing a lot of online workshops and the good thing is that this brings in more attendees. People can come from anywhere. I really miss seeing my writer friends, though. As for staying home, I would be doing that anyway. So the pandemic hasn’t affected my writing routine.
If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
I’ve never been to Greece, so that would be my first choice. I’ve traveled to Europe, the British Isles, the South Pacific, and the Orient. I’d also like to see St. Petersburg in Russia. These days, I’m content to plan my next Caribbean cruise.
What is next on the horizon for you?
I have another Bad Hair Day mystery I’d like to do and then we’ll see. I also have a fully written whodunit set in Central Florida. It needs more work and I’ve been dabbling with it in my spare time. Plus, I hope to do another audiobook. So far, the first four titles in my series are in audiobook format and I need to do more. As for pub dates, Box Set 5 in my series will come out in early 2022.
Thank you Nancy so much for visiting today.
Keep reading for my thoughts about Styled for Murder.
About Styled for Murder
Styled for Murder (Bad Hair Day Mysteries)
17th in Series
Setting – Florida
Publisher : Orange Grove Press (November 16, 2021)
Paperback : 286 pages
ISBN-10 : 1952886228
ISBN-13 : 978-1952886225
Digital ASIN : B09DYN9YG6
Hairstylist Marla Vail flushes out a killer when murder disrupts her mother’s home renovation plans in this stylish cozy mystery.
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?
Home renovations are murder in this latest installment of the Bad Hair Day Mystery Series. Marla Vail’s mother has a hair-raising experience when she finds a dead contractor in her remodeled shower. It turns out the man had built quite a reputation for himself, a bad one. The police have added Marla’s stepfather to the long list that may want to remove the unscrupulous individual from the earth – perm-antly. Sadly, the murder is out of Marla’s detective husband Dalton’s jurisdiction but that is not going to stop her from showering her sleuthing talents on the case, mainly because her mother won’t let her but also her stepdad Reed is hiding something. He may not have killed the man but maybe he knows who did.
Marla and Dalton are settling into their lives with the addition of a new baby to their family but both have full-time jobs and Ms. Cohen has portrayed their lives so realistically. Brianna is old enough to be of help but a baby takes over your life. Then grandma calls and throws a monkey wrench into their lives with a dead body. I knew Marla would have a hard time saying no to another murder investigation, even with her best intentions to stop getting involved but this one hits family and there is no way to say no to family. I really liked this as it really makes sense for Marla to get involved. I really had sympathy for her as she truly was burning the candle at both ends throughout the story. It is hard to find balance with a new baby in the house without the addition of a dead body.
Ms. Cohen finds a nice balance herself in Styled for Murder. She blends the daily life of her characters with a challenging mystery to solve. I did like that there was a plethora of suspects and the way Marla worked her way through them. She wasn’t able to figure things out though before more deaths occurred. Those deaths depleted her suspect list but WOW! that final twist was absolutely killer. The guilty party was a total surprise. I know I probably missed an important clue somewhere but I love when a book ends with a shocking twist.
I have read this series from the start. Marla has evolved so wonderfully over the course of those books. She was a great stepmom to Brianna after marrying Dalton but I am so happy that they now have this little bundle of joy. She made some adjustments to her sleuthing with her son Ryder in mind. Dalton also made changes. I am excited to see how this continues in future stories especially after the final chapter in this book.
Styled for Murder is filled with complex characters, has a great family feel, and a captivating mystery. Don’t let the depth of this series hold you back. This book can be read all on its own but to really get to know Marla I encourage you to read the entire series.
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More About Nancy J. Cohen
Nancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have been named Best Cozy Mystery by Suspense Magazine, won a Readers’ Favorite gold medal and a RONE Award, placed first in the Chanticleer International Book Awards and third in the Arizona Literary Awards. Her nonfiction titles, Writing the Cozy Mystery and A Bad Hair Day Cookbook, have also garnered numerous awards, including the FAPA President’s Book Award and the Royal Palm Literary Award. Active in the writing community, Nancy is a past president of Florida Romance Writers and Mystery Writers of America, Florida Chapter. When not busy writing, she enjoys reading, fine dining, cruising, and visiting Disney World.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”