Friday, March 17, 2023

Star Tangled Murder by Nancy J. Cohen | Blog Tour with Guest Post and Giveaway


Star Tangled Murder (Bad Hair Day Mysteries) by Nancy J Cohen

About Star Tangled Murder


Star Tangled Murder (Bad Hair Day Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
18th in Series
Setting - Florida
Orange Grove Press (March 14, 2023)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 284 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1952886252
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1952886256
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BQS68WS7


Hairstylist Marla Vail and her husband get tangled up in murder when their Fourth of July visit to a living history village ends with a bang — and a body.

Salon owner Marla Vail and her detective husband Dalton are having a blast visiting a Florida living history village over Fourth of July weekend. But when a Seminole battle reenactment turns up a real dead body, it sets off fireworks among the villagers. One of the cast members has gone off script to murder the town marshal with a tomahawk in his head. 

As Dalton gets involved in the investigation, Marla determines to help him solve the case. Her flare for uncovering secrets reveals that everyone in the village is a suspect. Instead of celebrating the holiday with red, white, and barbecues, she discovers secrets, lies, and false avenues. Did the marshal’s murder have anything to do with a lost Confederate payroll, or did his plans to renovate the park light a fuse that he couldn’t snuff out? 

In a place where history comes alive, the dead bodies are piling up. Marla would rather be chilling and grilling, but somebody’s mind is on killing. If she’s not careful, her sleuthing might blow up in her face like a faulty firecracker and she'll become the next victim. 

Recipes Included!


About the Author Guest Post

Holidays and Homicide by Nancy J. Cohen

Readers appreciate stories set around holidays. Christmas is probably the most popular time of year. For my Bad Hair Day series, I’ve set books during the December holidays, but it wasn’t the focus of the story. Easter Hair Hunt and Haunted Hair Nights are more targeted as they’re respectively centered around Easter and Halloween. 

When I was thinking about what time to year to do my next book, I chose Fourth of July weekend. Maybe the murder victim would be shot during the fireworks, and no one would notice. But as the setting evolved, I decided upon a different method of murder.

Hairstylist and salon owner Marla Vail and her husband, Dalton, attend a battle reenactment at a living history village in Star Tangled Murder. At the conclusion of the battle scene, the town marshal is found dead with a tomahawk in his head. Dalton, a homicide detective, gets on the case. Since he’s about to retire to help at home with their one-year-old son, Marla joins the investigation so they can solve the case fast. All the cast members at the history park become suspects. These include the blacksmith, preacher, schoolteacher, shopkeeper, baker and shaman, among others. They all had reasons to dislike the victim.

The following day at a Fourth of July festival, Marla hopes to meet people who can shed light on the villagers. I researched Independence Day celebrations to help me set the scene. Aside from fireworks, picnics, parades, and concerts, what else goes on? Other activities might include a Fourth of July Ball or Ice Cream Social, various Cooking Demos, a Hot Dog or Watermelon Eating Contest, Food Trucks, a Fireman’s BBQ, plus exhibitors from the town’s civic organizations. A Kids’ Play Area is essential with a Bounce House, Face Painting, and a Petting Zoo. 

Out of all these events, I selected a few of them to set my scene. At a local park, Marla chats with the petting zoo owner who advises her to find the hat lady. The milliner is familiar with a suspect at the village. Marla finds the woman among the vendors. Here’s an excerpt:

“These are amazing,” Marla said, hoping flattery might loosen the proprietor’s tongue. “I love this one.” She pointed to a crimson brim hat with fabric roses but was also attracted to a teal fascinator with lace and a cute orange felt hat that would be great for the fall. “How did you learn to do this work?”

The woman grinned. She had a tanned complexion, curly blond hair, and proud blue eyes. “I’ve always loved millinery. It might be an old-fashioned art form, but I miss the days when people wore hats. Would you believe I attended a hat academy?” 

“Really? I’d no idea such a thing existed. I’m Marla Vail, by the way. I own a salon and day spa.” She handed over a business card.

“Fern Hatfield.” The millinery lady pointed to Marla’s sun hat. “I see you’re sensible in protecting your skin from the sun.”

“Always. This one has sunscreen protection.” 

Fern peeked into the stroller as Ryder whimpered. “Aw, your baby is so cute.”

“Thanks. I need to take him home soon for his nap.” She glanced at Fern’s ringless fingers. “Do you have any kids?”

“Not me, but I have five nieces and nephews. Tommy loves his fedora and Angie wears a bonnet we bought her at Pioneer Village.”

Marla’s ears perked up at this opening line. “We just visited on Saturday. I met Millie who runs the sewing circle. She sells their goods in the general store.”

“I’ve met Millie. She’s very talented with a needle and thread. Sometimes she’ll come to these events and sell her handmade items. On occasion, she’ll bring her guy friend, too.”

“Who do you mean?” Marla asked. This was news. She’d been unaware Millie had a romantic attachment. 

Fern waved a hand. “I don’t know if they’re together or are just friends. The man works at the village in the role of minister, but he isn’t in the least bit priestly.”

“Millie is multi-talented,” Marla remarked, seeking to learn more about her. “In addition to sewing, she likes to cook. She told me how she’d offer her southern specialties if they had a café on site. I tasted her biscuits at an outdoor oven demo.”

Fern leaned forward and lowered her voice. “Having her own restaurant is her real dream. She’s a much better chef than she is a baker. It’s a shame she got let go from her last job in the field.” 

“Oh? What happened?”

Fern pressed her lips together. “She doesn’t like to talk about it, and I don’t probe.”

Holidays and festivals go together and provide lots of background for scenes like this one. It’s where a murder can take place, or a site where your sleuth can run into suspects to question. Or maybe your characters will entertain at home, and we’ll learn more about them that way. 

What’s your favorite activity for the Fourth of July?

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 the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards and the 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 won the FAPA President’s Book Award, the Royal Palm Literary Award, and IAN Book of the Year. When not busy writing, Nancy enjoys reading, fine dining, cruising, and visiting Disney World.

Author Links 


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