Tressed to Kill
Berkley, May 2010, $6.99
Quaint St. Elizabeth, Georgia is a typical southern small-town in which the locals know one another and the crime rate is extremely low. Grace Terhune and her mother Violetta own a beauty shop that they operate out of the latter’s home. They are swamped with customers who are going to attend the town meeting to discuss funds for the “Preserve the Rothmere Museum” and computers into the schools. The other item on the agenda is whether to allow Morestuf Mart to build a store in town.
Society doyenne Constance DuBois demands Violetta put highlights in her hair just prior to the big meeting. The hairdresser warns the haughty client that she already has too many chemicals and fears adding additional ones to Constance’s hair. Violetta proves right when Constance’s hair turns orange. Blaming Violetta, Constance vows to shut down the beauty salon. Following the meeting, they find Constance’s corpse in the parking lot. All evidence points strongly towards her mother, so Grace, knowing the cops will need all the help they can get, begins her own inquiry.
The first Southern Beauty Shop amateur sleuth nicely captures the ambience of life in a small Georgia town; for instance sayings like the War of Northern Aggression are accepted as much as the alphabet is. Grace is a classic steel magnolia who refuses to accept her mom’s guilt and the consequently closing of their beauty parlor. She determinedly investigates because she knows the townsfolk, especially the ladies, quite well and cannot afford to hire a professional detective. Rather quickly she finds others with motives to kill Constance though she struggles with who did the act. Lila Dare provides a fun regional amateur sleuth starring likable mother-daughter beauticians.