Body Wave (Bad Hair Day Series #4)

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Marla Shore, owner of the Cut 'N Dye Salon, can't believe her ears. Her hateful ex-husband, Stanley Kaufman, actually needs her help. Granted, it might have something to do with the fact that he's been arrested for the murder of his third wife, Kimberly, and wants Marla to find the "real" killer, but still, it's nice to be asked. After visiting Stan in jail, Marla's convinced the distraught man before her is not responsible for Kim's death. He might be impossible, annoying, and arrogant, but he's no killer. So ...

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Marla Shore, owner of the Cut 'N Dye Salon, can't believe her ears. Her hateful ex-husband, Stanley Kaufman, actually needs her help. Granted, it might have something to do with the fact that he's been arrested for the murder of his third wife, Kimberly, and wants Marla to find the "real" killer, but still, it's nice to be asked. After visiting Stan in jail, Marla's convinced the distraught man before her is not responsible for Kim's death. He might be impossible, annoying, and arrogant, but he's no killer. So who could have stabbed the beautiful young heiress and left her body lying at the foot of her stairs?

Since the front door was unlocked and there were no signs of forced entry, Detective Dalton Vail suspects that the killer was someone Kim knew and trusted -- and that points to Stan. Marla's not so sure. As the daughter of one of South Florida's wealthiest families -- a clan whose millions come with exclusive compounds, maid's quarters, and tight-lipped servants -- Kim spent her life at the top of the social register. But her ruthless social ambitions created more enemies than true friends, even among her own family. Getting the inside scoop on Kim involves literally getting inside the exclusive gates of the family compound -- in disguise.

Trading in her beautician's smock for a nurse's uniform, Marla goes undercover as a daily nurse to Miriam Pearl, Kimberly's grandmother and the ultimate matriarch. Marla may not know a hypo from an EKG, but she does figure out pretty quickly that plenty of people had reason to resent the former Mrs. Stan Kaufman. Certainly Stan's ex-wife Leah isn't shedding any tears over the demise of the woman who stole her husband and forced her out of her home. And with Kim gone, Leah's children stand to get it all as Stan's sole heirs. Kim also had run-ins with Uncle Morris, the cutthroat manager of the family's coffee-growing empire in Costa Rica. Then there were her twisted ties to dotty Aunt Florence who isn't quite as scatter-brained as she seems, gospel-spouting televangelist Jeremiah Dooley, compulsive gambler and not-so-ex-boyfriend Gary Waterford, and Kim's dubious "best" friend, Lacey Mills, who'd just as soon spit at Kim as shop with her. It seems there are more guilty faces and deep-seated resentments than there are perm rods back at the shop, and it isn't long before Marla's making serious waves, digging deep into the hidden layers of a family with vaults of money and even more secrets. From illicit affairs and vicious blackmail plots to bitter jealousies and fraud, the case is a tangled mess that leaves Marla vulnerable to a killer who's onto her true identity and will stop at nothing to find a permanent solution to the problem....

Witty, wild, and wickedly suspenseful, Nancy J. Cohen's latest Bad Hair Day novel is another thrilling ride for mystery lovers -- a hair-twisting tale of murder that proves when it comes to sleuths, Marla Shore is always a cut above.

Nancy J. Cohen earned a bachelor's degree in nursing from the University of Rochester and a master's degree from the University of California in San Francisco. After working for several years as a clinical nurse specialist, she retired to writing full time. BODY WAVE is the fourth novel in Nancy J. Cohen's Bad Hair Day Mystery series, which is set in Florida, where she resides with her husband. Since their two children are in college, they are entertained at home by their poodle, who bears a strong resemblance to Marla's dog, Spooks.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Salon owner Marla Shore -- Nancy J. Cohen's wry stylist-cum-sleuth -- encounters her fourth hair-raising murder mystery in Body Wave. After the divorce, Marla never expected to hear from her ex-husband, Stan, again -- and she didn't mind that one little bit. But when Stan is arrested for the murder of his third wife, Kimberly, he turns to Marla to for help. Stan is arrogant and irritating, but Marla doesn't believe he's a cold-blooded killer, so she agrees to tease out the clues to discover who really stabbed the beautiful heiress to death in her own home. Since there was no sign of forced entry, the police (including Marla's sometime boyfriend, Detective Dalton Vail) are sure the murder was an inside job. To get inside Kimberly's family's exclusive South Florida compound, Marla gives herself a makeover: Disguised as a day nurse, she goes to work for the family matriarch to get to the root of things. What she finds is a tangled mess of alibis, resentments, and deceptions: Stan's first wife's greed, Kim's frequently unfriendly friends and less-than-amicable relations, an ex-boyfriend who may be less ex than boyfriend, and a televangelist who seems all too familiar with sin. In Body Wave, Marla faces more shades of guilt and malice than she has colors of nail polish in her salon -- and exposes herself to a hidden killer who may decide that eliminating Marla is a permanent solution for getting away with murder. Sue Stone
Publishers Weekly
In Nancy J. Cohen's fourth bubbly Bad Hair Day mystery, Body Wave, Florida hairdresser Marla Shore agrees to help her snake of an ex-husband, Stan Kaufman, who's been arrested for the murder of his third wife, Kimberly, find the real killer. Cheered on by her heartthrob, homicide detective Dalton Vail, Marla goes undercover as a nurse and discovers that plenty of people, from Stan's jilted second wife to members of the victim's own well-to-do family, had reason to want Kimberly dead.
Library Journal
Series sleuth Marla Shore assists her ex-husband, who's been accused of murdering his third wife. Marla's work involves disguising herself as a nurse's aide to investigate the dead woman's wealthy family in East Ft. Lauderdale, where someone will get the victim's share of grandpa's estate. Standard complications arise: fear of commitment to love interest Lieutenant Vail, her ex-husband's half interest in her rental property, finding enough time for her job as a beautician, and the financial and family secrets hidden beneath the not-so-refined curtain of money. This follow-up to Murder by Manicure moves right along and will make good reading for the holidays. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780758200686
  • Publisher: Kensington
  • Publication date: 12/28/2002
  • Series: Bad Hair Day Series, #4
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 8.52 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

“If you succeed, I'll sell you my half of our jointly owned property,” Stanley Kaufman offered. "You'll double your rental income and get rid of me all in one swoop."

Maria Shore gave her ex-spouse a sardonic grin. "Oh joy. All I have to do is solve a murder which you may have committed."

"You've been wanting to get me off your back. Well, this is your chance. Don't make a hasty decision you'll regret later."

Dressed in his high-powered attorney suit, Stan appeared out of his element in the stark confines of the city jail. Maria's gaze traveled from the painted gray concrete floor to the metal sink and toilet unit at the opposite end from where they stood. The room stank of urine and stale sweat. A built-in bench qualified as the sole piece of furniture; residents didn't stay long in a holding cell. Fluorescent lights lit harsh angles on walls that pressed too close. Gray scored as the operative color, coating the solid door with its secured viewport. It seemed the wrong choice in a place where society drew definitive lines of justice.

Stan would have to hire his own partners if he was actually charged with murdering his third wife, Maria thought. "Why do you think I can find Kimberly's killer? You've got money. Engage a private investigator."

"You've solved cases before," Stan replied, his hazel eyes glinting as though he didn't want to admit she'd done something right. "Obviously, you're more on the ball than that detective friend of yours, Lieutenant Vail. He'd like to bust my ass."

"If it weren't for Dalton, I wouldn't have been allowed to see you," she snapped, her glance flickering contemptuously at Stan's thin black hair brushed off his forehead. It reminded her of how many times he'd brushed off her accomplishments over the years. Ever since their divorce, Stan had never let Maria forget how much he'd done for her. Even now, despite her ability to manage her own hair salon, she couldn't believe the man regarded her capable enough to do him a service.

"Maybe we haven't gotten along in recent years," he said in a half-apologetic tone, "but we had something once. For old times' sake, give me a break."

"Tell me what happened, and then I'll decide," she said, striding to the bench and plopping herself down. She avoided the seat's encrusted crud so it wouldn't soil her khakis.

Hands folded behind his back, Stan paced purposefully like a trial attorney. "I'm a sound sleeper. You remember, don't you? When I fall asleep, I don't even hear the lawn men trimming hedges outside our windows. This morning, I awoke at my regular time, seven o'clock. Kim usually gets up earlier and has a cup of coffee waiting for me. I couldn't smell it like I normally do, but her side of the bed was empty, so I figured she'd be downstairs."

He halted, shoulders slumping. "I should have known something was wrong, because I couldn't hear her moving around the kitchen. Kim was a good wife. A good wife," he repeated in his habitually annoying manner. "She always had my breakfast ready on time." His resentful glare told Maria how she'd never met his expectations when they were married.

"Go on," Maria grated, suppressing her irritation.

"I was still in my pajamas when I reached the foyer. Our stairway is just a few steps from the front door," he explained. "Kim was lying on the floor. I called her name, but she didn't respond, and her body was awfully still. I couldn't imagine what had happened. Did she trip and fall down the stairs? In a terrifying flash, I thought she must have broken her neck until I saw the blood. It had seeped out like fingers of a river."

His eyelids squeezed shut, and a tremor rippled through him. Seconds ticked by while he regained his composure. When he opened his eyes, pain glistened in their depths.

Surprise slashed at her. She hadn't realized Stan could feel so deeply about anyone. Rising, she embraced him in a quick hug, startling both of them. While she cursed Stan for his arrogance, she didn't wish upon him this type of suffering. Grief was a difficult burden to carry alone. "Tell me more," she said encouragingly, stepping back a few paces.

He drew in a shuddering breath. "I-I knelt to see what I could do. I turned her onto her back, but it was too late. Too late. She'd been stabbed in the abdomen. It must've hit a major organ. I'll never forget the look in her eyes--terror mixed with astonishment." His voice faltered. "I-I froze, Maria. For the first time in my life, I didn't know what to do."

"You called the police."

"Yes. Somehow I stumbled into the kitchen. It crossed my mind that I should wash my hands." He turned them palm up as though to show her the stains. "Instead, I grabbed the phone and called the cops."

"What did you do until they arrived?"

"I don't remember." He squinted as though trying to force memories into his brain. "Before I knew it, uniformed officers were pouring into my house."

"So you opened the door for them."

"No, it was unlocked. The officers let themselves in after ringing the bell. I was too numb to respond."

"Where did they find you? In the kitchen?"

"Hovering over Kimberly's body. I'll admit it doesn't look good for me, babe."

"Maybe an intruder entered the house and Kim surprised him. Do you think robbery was a motive? If you could prove things were stolen--"

"Nothing was missing. The cops asked me to check before I got dressed." Stan's gaze held genuine bewilderment. "I can see why they believe I did it. Blood on my pajamas is damning evidence, but I-I touched my wife when I tried to save her. What was I supposed to do, leave her lying there bleeding to death? I don't know how we're going to clean up the mess on the floor."

From his use of the joint pronoun, Maria realized he hadn't come to grips with his loss. "Did the police find signs of forced entry?"

"N-No, that's the peculiar thing. The windows were secure, and our other exterior doors were locked. There weren't any footprints on the ground, either, and the sprinklers had been on earlier."

"So when the cops confronted you, there were no signs anyone else had been in the house, and you had blood on your clothes."

His face darkened. "Hell, Maria, whose side are you on? Things may not have been perfect between us, but I'd never hurt Kimberly. You know how I abhor violence. When you and I were married, I never mishandled you in anger. Never."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2012

    Great series!

    The Bad Hair Day Mysteries are a series of stories centering around hairstylist Marla Shore. During her sleuthing, she meets and falls in love with Detective Dalton Vail. The budding, then full blown romance of Marla and Dalton leave you wanting to read more of their adventures. Nancy J. Cohen has a great way of introducing her characters and, while you're reading the stories, she makes you feel like you're watching a good movie unfold.

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  • Posted November 1, 2011

    great read

    great books good read cant wait to see what trouble marla gets into next

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2005

    What a hoot of fun and mystery

    Marla Shore's up to her old tricks, putting herself on the line. Why she'd want to clear her ex-husband of murder is beyond me, but then again, she's nicer than most people. Going under cover is srisky, and what she does with the matriarch is nothing short of brilliance. Marla knows how to take all the clues, put them into a food processor, and puree them into the right combination to solve a hienous crime involving a myriad of evil suspects. The twists are surprising, and when you put the book down, you will kick yourself for not seeing through their facades earlier.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    upbeat amateur sleuth

    Stanley Kauffman comes down to breakfast only to see his trophy wife lying on the floor, bleeding from a wound to her chest. When the police arrive, they declare her dead and arrest him. He calls his ex-wife, hairdresser Marla Shore, to meet him at the jail and asks her help in clearing him of the charges. He promises her that if she will, he will sell his share of the property they jointly own at a decent price. Marla agrees because she wants the property and because she believes Stanley would never physically harm a woman. Marla goes undercover at the compound of Stanley¿s in-laws by becoming a nurse¿s aid to the matriarch of the family. She discovers that almost everyone in the household had a motive to murder Stanley¿s wife and further investigation with her boyfriend Detective Dalton Vail turns up even-more suspects. If Marla isn¿t careful, the perpetrator will try to kill her to stop her from revealing what she figured out about her ex-husband¿s wife¿s death. Anyone who reads BODY WAVE will come away thinking it is an upbeat amateur sleuth mystery populated by a host of eccentric characters. The heroine is a bold strong woman who is not afraid to get in a person¿s face when she thinks she is right. Nancy J. Cohen is a talented writer who is famous for her complex plots and characterizations as this tale substantiates. Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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