Hair Brained by Nancy Cohen – Character Guest Post

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Hair Brained by Nancy Cohen
A Bad Hair Day Mystery #14

Was the car crash an accident or a deliberate attempt to run Marla’s friends off the road?

When hairstylist Marla Vail’s best friend is hurt in a suspicious car accident, Marla assumes guardianship of her infant son. No sooner does Marla say, “Baby want a bottle?” than she’s embroiled in another murder investigation. Her husband, Detective Dalton Vail, determines the crash may not have been an accident after all. But then, who would want Tally–or Ken in the car with her–out of the way? As Marla digs deeper into her friends’ lives, she realizes she didn’t know them as well as she’d thought. Nonetheless, it’s her duty as their son’s guardian to ensure his safety, even if it means putting her own life at risk. Can she protect the baby and find the culprit before someone else ends up as roadkill?

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Character Guest Post from Nancy J. Cohen

Hi, I’m Marla Vail. I own the Cut ’N Dye Salon and Day Spa. In between cutting and styling my customers’ hair, I get involved in solving crimes. My husband, Detective Dalton Vail, used to warn me off his cases. Now he accepts that I’m his unofficial sidekick and even solicits my advice. Often I’ll interview people who might be intimidated by his approach. For example, recently I discovered my best friend Tally had been keeping secrets from me. I’d only found out about it after she was hurt in a car accident. I had to take over her household affairs along with guardianship of her infant son, Luke.

Imagine my surprise when I learned Tally had joined a ladies’ tea circle. They met in different locations twice a month, like at a yoga studio or a chocolate factory. So when Dalton learned the accident may have been a deliberate attempt on Tally’s life, I decided to interview these women. An affluent bunch of Boca Babes, they could be guarding closely-held secrets among themselves.

“Why bother to get involved?” you might say. Sorry, but I can’t turn away a friend in need. I’m glad I stuck my nose out in this case, because it led to a worthy cause. One of the ladies works for an organization that aims to prevent child deaths from hot cars. This is a big problem in South Florida where I live. Here’s my conversation at the restaurant where I met these ladies.

“I’m interested in learning more,” I said. “What can be done in terms of prevention?”

“People have to be educated never to leave a child alone in a car,” Edie stated. “Doors should be kept locked so kids can’t get inside on their own, and the remote or keychain should be stored in a child-proof location.”

“That seems logical. What else?”

“I used to keep a stuffed animal in our son’s car seat,” Deanne said with a pout, as though any lapse of judgment was beneath her. “After I’d put Jake inside, I would sit the doll next to me in the front. It helped me remember he was there. You can’t be too careful. Mothers have left their children in the car to go inside a gas station and pay the bill or use the bathroom. All it takes is a few minutes for the interior of a car to heat to lethal levels when it’s hot outside.”

“What happens to the parents?” I asked. “I can’t imagine living with that amount of pain.”

Edie opened her mouth, the words pouring from her like a water faucet. It appeared they’d pushed her hot button. “Under Florida law, it’s illegal to leave a child under six years old unsupervised for more than fifteen minutes, or unattended at all inside a vehicle. But the laws vary from state to state.”

“Don’t think these are deadbeat parents, either.” Deanne tucked a strand of long hair behind her ear. “I read about a case where the father went to work and forgot to take his sixteen-month-old daughter, who was in the car, to day care. He was a public defender, and the mother was an assistant state attorney. So it can happen to anyone.”

My stomach churned. I could well imagine the horror those parents faced. “Okay, you’ve convinced me,” I said. “It’s a worthy cause. Sign me up.”

So you see, I learn all sorts of interesting things while sleuthing. Want to come along on my next case? I promise to provide some laughs along the way. But never mind about me. Does your hair need a fresh lift? Want to change your style? Stop by my salon, and let’s see what we can do.


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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. Her imaginative romances, including the Drift Lords series, have proven popular with fans as well. Her first book in this genre won the HOLT Medallion Award. 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.


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