In Permed to Death by Nancy J. Cohen, Marla Shore comes in to her salon early one day to do the hair of her longtime client, Bertha Kravitz. While waiting for her client’s hair to set, Marla fixes Bertha some coffee, complete with Bertha’s personal can of creamer. Then Marla goes to the back room to get towels, only to hear a gasp. Returning to the main salon room, Marla finds Bertha slumped over, dead. Upon learning that Bertha has been murdered, Marla’s mind flashes back to the age of 19, when a small child she was babysitting managed to get out of her playpen while Marla was fielding a phone call for the parents of the girl and fell into the pool and drowned. A surplus of guilt has influenced her actions ever since. And now, this murder has dredged up another negative part of Marla’s past, for which Bertha had been blackmailing her to get free hair services for years.
Marla finds herself attracted to the detective in the case, Dalton Vail, and he seems interested in her. But Marla knows she must be a suspect since she served Bertha the coffee. Plus, if he digs too deeply, he might uncover her shameful, but not illegal, secret. So Marla decides that she needs to do her own digging to find the truth.
This book was a lighthearted, fun cozy mystery. The setting of the book is creative, and the character of Marla was well-conceived and well-drawn. We see her deal with her Jewish mother, who is anxious for her to marry a Jewish man and holds against Marla the fact that she left her former husband, despite the fact that he was cheating on Marla, because he is Jewish and wealthy.
Mary Ann Jacobs performs the audio edition of the book, making the book really enjoyable. I really like the tone of Jacobs’s voice. With her deep voice, Jacobs adds a unique touch to the book, adding expression without being overly emotive.
Permed to Death is an enjoyable, creative book. It’s very light as a mystery, with an interesting ending. It didn’t draw me into the book quite as much as I would like, but I definitely enjoyed it. I give the book four stars.
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