Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on September 20, 2017

Hair Brained (The Bad Hair Day Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
14th in Series
Orange Grove Press (September 12, 2017)
Print Length: 342 pages


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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Guest Post

Killing Off a Character in Your Book by Nancy J. Cohen

Fiction readers, same as TV series fans, hate to see their favorite characters die. It could mark a series death when a writer terminates a main character like a promising romantic lead. I’d be annoyed at the writer myself and maybe wouldn’t pick up her next book. But killing off the villain or an irritating relative no one likes or a minor secondary character is acceptable, as long as it isn’t your sleuth’s faithful sidekick.

One reason I didn’t start watching Game of Thrones was because I’d heard they beheaded a character everyone liked. I didn’t want to get vested in someone only to lose him.

Reader reactions may depend upon the genre as well. In a thriller, you expect more folks to get bumped off, and a lot of the suspense comes from not knowing who will survive and who won’t. But in a romance, you don’t want to disappoint readers with an unexpected death, and the same goes for cozy mysteries. Just as you don’t kill the cat or dog in a cozy, you don’t eliminate someone readers truly adore.

In the recent Wonder Woman movie [spoiler alert!], I was shocked when Steve didn’t reappear. True, the movie’s action shifted from World War I to the present to frame the shot from the beginning, but I still felt let down. The action in the comics had taken place during World War II, and Steve played a large role in those stories. So where will this remake go now?

But other secondary characters are fair game, and I take advantage of this situation in Hair Brained, #14 in The Bad Hair Day Mysteries. The tone of this story is more somber than my prior books. This one has some humorous scenes, but the general theme could be said to enjoy what you have now because it could be gone tomorrow, and to prepare for when that day comes. I didn’t feel great pangs about killing off a secondary player. Maybe I’d never really liked the person to start. But a lot of suspense comes from the threat to a character we do hold dear. Will she or won’t she make it out alive by the story’s end?

Marla, my hairstylist sleuth, has to deal with the fallout when her friends Tally and Ken go missing in Hair Brained. She and her husband Dalton go to Tally’s house to pick up her son Luke from a babysitter. Here’s an excerpt with her reaction:

Marla slung the diaper bag’s strap over her shoulder. Holy highlights, that thing weighed a ton! How did mothers do it? Back in the living room, she shot a panicked glance at Dalton as he shut the door on the babysitter’s retreating back.

“Wait, how will I know what to do?”

Dalton rounded on her, his eyebrows arched and his gray eyes like polished pewter. “What’s there to know? You change the kid’s diapers, feed him, and put him to sleep.”

Oh, yeah. Easy for you to say. You’ve been through it once with your daughter.

“Put him to sleep in what? We don’t have a crib in our house.”

“That’s okay; we’ll rig something up that will work for tonight. This shouldn’t last too long. Tally and Ken will reappear at some point.”

“Yes, but what if they don’t? I mean, we’re not equipped to handle an infant. Our house isn’t child-proofed. We don’t have a crib or a changing table or any of the other stuff.”

“Including a car seat, now that you mention it. I’ll look in the garage. Maybe Tally’s BMW is still inside.” He loped off in that direction, hollering a few minutes later that Tally’s car was parked there, and he’d retrieve her equipment.

Meanwhile, Marla wondered what she would do if Tally failed to show up in a timely manner. She had clients scheduled at the salon, as well as other commitments.

Dear Lord. Her throat closed until she reminded herself this wasn’t about her. It was about caring for Luke.

So how do you feel about recurrent characters who die in the midst of your favorite series?


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 and been selected by Suspense Magazine as best cozy mystery. 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. A featured speaker at libraries, conferences, and community events, Nancy is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who’s Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets. When not busy writing, she enjoys fine dining, cruising, visiting Disney World, and shopping.


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