Nancy J. Cohen
Kensington, Dec 2007, $22.00
As part of meeting her future in-laws for the first time, hairdresser and part-time detective Marla Shore joins her fiancé police detective Dalton Vail, his parents Kate and John and his teenage daughter on a Caribbean cruise. Not long after they go on board the Tropical Sun, a crew member delivers a message to Marla that is a threat, but is actually addressed to Martha Shore.
At dinner, Marla and Dalton sit with tense employees and associates of a Tampa art museum. Apparently an unknown benefactor paid for them to attend the cruise and each of them received a note similar to that “Martha” got. When the cruise hosts an art auction to include the work of an artist Alden Tusk who died mysteriously from a fall, Marla decides enough as she not one to let her hair knot. Instead, she begins to investigate who is behind the threatening notes; who, if a different person, is the secret patron paying for the museum staff to come on the cruise; and how did the artist die and if it was murder who is the killer? She investigates this while trying to get on with her fiancé’s family.
This laid-back cruise cozy is a fun Bad Hair Day Mystery as Marla struggles with balancing her investigation with meeting the folks. In many ways her sleuthing takes a back seat to her insecurities as she wonders if the parents and the teen will accept her. Fans who appreciate an amiable often amusing tale will enjoy Marla’s seaworthy antics dealing with KILLER KNOTS that rival her previous PERISH BY PEDICURE pedigree.