Thursday, May 1, 2014

Hanging by a Hair

Author:  Nancy J. Cohen
Genre:  Mystery

Five Stars

Hairstylist Marla Vail and her detective husband Dalton are delighted by every aspect of their new home, until their next-door-neighbor illegally erects a fence on their mutual property line.  Marla's hopes for making friends are ruined by a resultant argument between Dalton and the man, who happens to be the homeowners' association president.  Things grow worse when their neighbor is found dead in his home the next day.

Despite a suicide note, Dalton suspects foul play, but he's removed from the case due to a conflict of interest.  At her husband's suggestion, Marla works to know her neighbors better.  One of them might have had a reason to want their president dead.  Is it another board member?  Or a local woman he's spurned?  Perhaps the guy's nephew wants his inheritance?  And what about the protesters who disrupt the community garage sale?  As Marla learns more about the guy next door, she discovers ugly truths that a murderer wants to keep hidden.  Can a sharp-witted salon owner untangle the web of secrets before the killer strikes again?

********
 
Marla and her husband Dalton have just moved into a new neighborhood and are attending their first HOA meeting.  Almost immediately they clash with the board's president, Alan Krabber, who is also their next-door neighbor.  It seems that Alan makes everyone else follow the rules, but does whatever he wants to do:  he tells a resident that she can't have her visiting sister park her recreational vehicle in the driveway, but he himself keeps a boat there.  When Dalton calls him on it, he gets nasty and combative.  Later on that same night after the meeting, Alan hits on Marla, and when Dalton overhears the conversation, confronts him.

So, when Alan is murdered (and no spoilers here since I am sure everyone figured out he's the one getting killed) the next day, witnesses tell the police about the confrontation and Dalton is removed from the case, being a 'person of interest.'  But is Marla going to take it lying down and let her husband stand accused of a murder she knows he didn't commit?  Anyone who has read the previous books in this series knows the resounding answer: No.  And even when Dalton tells her to leave it alone, we (and he) know she isn't going to do that), even if it means she's on the killer's scope.

To add to her problems at home there are two things occuring at her salon that are giving her a perpetual headache, and she also needs to juggle her stepdaughter Brianna's birthday party, her first Passover at her house, and Easter the following weekend (the problems of a mixed-religion marriage - you have double the holidays every year).  This is one busy woman.

I will tell you that I, myself was getting a little ticked at Alan and his attitude.  Not that it couldn't be; I've heard horror stories about HOA members myself, so I was on Marla and Dalton's side right from the beginning - which is what I was supposed to do anyway.  Putting that aside, the book drew me in and I read until the wee hours of the night, because with the supposed-suicide-turned-murder and the problems with the salon and at home, I just wanted to finish and find out what happened.  And isn't that what a book is supposed to be about?

The nice thing about this book is that you don't have to read any of the previous ones to enjoy this one.  Ms. Cohen "keeps you in the loop" per se, and you have enough information about the characters to really enjoy it.  Highly recommended for anyone who wants a quick read that keeps you interested throughout.

http://www.amazon.com/Hanging-Hair-Bad-Day-Mysteries/dp/1432828142/

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