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Highlights to Heaven (The Bad Hair Day Mysteries) (Volume 5) Paperback – January 8, 2017
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There were so many things going on in this book that it was hard to keep track of them all -- a murder in a neighbor's home, an incident between neighbors, animal cruelty, illegal fur business, exotic bird trade, competing salon owners, baldness, citrus canker, teenage angst, bad deeds from the past. Way too much to keep track of.
Marla never learns her lesson and keeps putting herself into stupid, dangerous situations. Her cop boyfriend does nothing to discourage her from involving herself in his cases other than shaking a finger now and then, but yet he turns around and tells her that the case is "our case." Cops do *not* encourage civilians to get involved in their investigations, particularly a civilian as stupid and careless as Marla.
After she finds out about two hairdressers being killed, Marla thinks she went to school with one and doesn't recognize the name of the other. After she goes to her beauty school and finds out they were all classmates, we suddenly learn that the three, along with two other students, were part of a tight "gang" who hung around together and basically ruined another student's life. So why doesn't Marla recognize the name of someone she was supposedly so tight with? That really lost me.
This author has enough trouble trying to write mystery -- the last thing she should do is try to add romance. There's really no chemistry at all between Marla and Dalton, and her attempts at writing romance for them come off as juvenile and amateur. On one page, Marla is fretting about their differences and how a relationship between them won't work, then on the next page she's discussing the changes she'd make to his decor if she moves in with him. No consistency and certainly nothing about these two that makes you want to read about them having a meal together (which will, of course, be filled with leers and attempts at sexually suggestive comments and feelings) much less living together.
This author really needs to go back to writing school, because she's a textbook for "How To Get Your Novel Published." There's no red, yellow and blue in Marla's world -- only crimson, lemon and azure. Clothing, table settings, meals, cars, everything is described in painstaking detail to the point where you end up skimming over paragraphs at a time. And, in addition to the very annoying "Bless My Bones!" and random Yiddish phrases, we're now also treated to "Holy Highlights!" throughout the book. What is this, Batman?
Anyone who lives in South Florida knows that Palm Haven is really Plantation -- it's silly to try to invent a town when you're specific enough to tell us that someone is driving down Nob Hill Road to get onto I-595. Why the author felt the need to invent the name of the town is beyond me, since a large portion of her reading audience is local.
Yet another poor effort by a very poor writer.
In the latest installment, her strange neighbor (nicknamed "Goat") has gone missing. When she goes over to investigate with Vail, they find a dead body, a stash of cash, and no Goat. Shore recognizes the highlighting style on the dead guy, and asks some questions of the stylist who did the work. Things start happening quickly at that point, and it seems to tie back to her styling school days when a group of her friends played a joke on another stylist who lost his hair in the process. All the friends are being killed off, and Shore narrowly escapes death a couple of time. A few unexpected plot twists brings the story to the typical life or death climax at the end. And as a subplot throughout the story, Shore's relationship with Vail advances forward to the next major stage... moving in.
This isn't deep thought-provoking material. It's a light story with interesting characters, and it's the exact type of recreational read that I often look forward to.
Marla Shore is a mostly likable heroine, interested in others, sympathetic toward Dalton's pre-teen daughter, and caring about her neighbor, 'Goat,' who, Marla is certain, could not be the murderer. Marla's bad judgment when it comes to personal safety weakens the character, however, as does her certainty that she knows what is best for Dalton's daughter. One would think that a few near-death experiences would teach her a bit more caution but, unfortunately, they don't.
Author Nancy J. Cohen slips in an occasional clunker but her writing is mostly professional quality. HIGHLIGHTS TO HEAVEN is a flawed but interesting mystery.