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Facials Can Be Fatal by Nancy J. Cohen
A Bad Hair Day Mystery #13
February 22, 2017
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, was a major donor for Friends of Old Florida, a historic building 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. As she learns more about Val, she realizes the benefactress might have stumbled onto secrets others would kill to keep. She’d better prepare for a body count that has nothing to do with hot stone massages and everything to do with murder.
History, Mystery, and Buried Family Secrets by Nancy J. Cohen
Mixing real history with a modern mystery can get tricky. How much is fact and how much is fiction? When I decided to explore shipwrecks off the coast of Florida and buried pirate treasure for Facials Can Be Fatal, I had a wonderful inspiration. I’d read my father’s travel journal titled Florida Escape and remembered a scene where he and his friends dug up a buried box on a beach back in 1935. Could I use this in my book?
From this starting point, my plotting brain leapt ahead. What if I used more than one scene? What if I actually included excerpts from my father’s work in my fictional story? And so, one of the characters in my book discovers an old family journal with entries that match my father’s tale. What happens when this person’s dad uncovers the hidden box? Ah, here the tales diverge. What’s inside the fictional chest isn’t the same thing my father found.
I always like it when a contemporary story delves into history. It adds depth and an air of mystery. In Facials Can Be Fatal, it’s the victim’s father who wrote the journal. Marla, my hairstylist sleuth, owns the day spa where society matron Valerie Weston died during a facial. What was so important about this journal? Why did Val keep it a secret? And how does the past relate to the present? Marla interviews the woman’s housekeeper in this scene below.
“Miss Val got her love of history from her father. He filled her imagination with stories of pirates, Indians, and Spanish explorers. Would you believe she went to garage sales looking for old diaries written by Florida pioneers?”
“Really?” Marla rummaged in her handbag and withdrew the copied pages in her possession. “Is that how she got hold of Warren Brookstone’s journal? I’ve made a copy.”
Mrs. Dale’s face paled as she noted the papers in Marla’s hand. “How did you get that journal?”
“Val must have left instructions for this book to be sent to a friend in the event of her death. The friend, one of our customers, thought I should pass it on to my husband.”
“Oh, my. I never guessed … I never thought—”
“Wait. You mailed it to Nadia?”
Mrs. Dale gazed out the window. “I was following Miss Val’s wishes and figured Nadia already knew what was inside.”
“Nadia did admit she and Val knew each other’s secrets. Do you know what this is about, Mrs. Dale?”
The woman’s lips compressed. “All I’ll say is that Miss Val felt torn after she read that book, but she wasn’t at fault for her father’s sins.”
“Who is the Warren fellow who wrote it? Was it someone Val knew?”
“Warren was her father. Miss Val took on her mother’s family name after her divorce. Once she’d read those pages, she was glad of her choice.”
“Did her father share this book with her while he was still alive?”
“No, Miss Val discovered it while sorting through his things after he died.”
Marla squirmed with impatience, wishing to get to the heart of the secrets. “What happened during his early trip to Florida?”
Mrs. Dale plucked at her apron. “Something nobody wanted to talk about, then or now.”
Don’t you love it when old family secrets come to light in a story? What family doesn’t have secrets? Does yours?
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About the Author
Nancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have made the IMBA bestseller list, been selected by Suspense Magazine as best cozy mystery, and won third place in the Arizona Literary Awards. Nancy has also written the instructional guide, Writing the Cozy Mystery. A featured speaker at libraries, conferences, and community events, she is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who’s Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets. When not busy writing, Nancy enjoys fine dining, cruising, visiting Disney World, and shopping.
Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nancyjcohen
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/+NancyJCohen/
Booklover’s Bench: http://bookloversbench.com
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2lk5Xvi