Friday, December 22, 2006

A Bad Hair Day

It is indeed a shock when your own hairdresser has a bad hair day, especially a a series of them. I was sitting in a salon hot seat recently, having my roots rescued, catching up on the life saga of the hairdresser I’ve had in Fort Myers for at least twenty years. She’s a formidable woman who has survived various health problems and family traumas with pluck and aplomb. Due to the fact that I had been in the San Juan Islands over the summer, I hadn’t seen my friend in awhile, and I was astounded by the fact that her business was thrown for a loop when a woman who worked at her salon had walked out and started a rival salon right across the street. This, of course, created great upheaval among her clients.

Wait a minute, I found myself thinking. This is a real-life version of a plot right out of the Bad Hair Day Mysteries by Nancy J. Cohen. In Died Blonde, the book I happen to be reading at the time, hairdresser Marla Shore is helping her detective boyfriend find out who murdered a rival salon owner who was out to ruin Marla’s business by moving into the same shopping center and pulling all sorts of nasty pranks on Marla. When the rival turns up dead, suspicion turns Marla’s way, but she’s sheltered by her lover, Detective Vail, who, fortunately for Marla, has a full head of hair which she styles on a regular basis.

I’ve met Nancy Cohen several times and always enjoy her books. I ran into her again at the Murder on the Beach Bookstore booth at the Miami Book Fair, where we were signing books. Nancy signed a copy of Died Blonde for me.

Meanwhile, Nancy gave me a ringing endorsement of The Don Juan Con which will go one the cover of a forthcoming edition. Nancy got the whole point of what I meant to do with Don Juan. I aim to raise awareness of a certain type of romantic swindle that amounts to the emotional rape of the victims. Nancy was kind enough to interview me for her blog, and I’ve posted a copy of interview in the review section of this site. Here I am, a fledgling novelist being interviewed by a famous one!

Check out Nancy’s blog for yourself:

Meanwhile, Nancy’s latest book, Perish by Pedicure, was reviewed by Jay MacDonald in the Fort Myers News-Press, Tropicalia Magazine, Dec. 17. MacDonald gave Nancy a great review and I enjoy Jay’s work because he also interviews the authors he writes about and delves into their background.

MacDonald did the best he could for Nancy, but Jay’s a guy, after all. I met Jay MacDonald last year at The Lee Reading Festival in Fort Myers. Jay’s a tall, handsome fellow and quite the speaker. He even has a reasonable amount of hair. MacDonald just has to be a barbershop type of male who never set foot in a hair salon, however. Why am I saying this? It’s because the root appeal of the Bad Hair Day Mysteries is to the millions of women like me who swap life stories with their hairdressers for years on end. What guy could figure that out, unless he’s a salon-styled male like detective Dalton Vail? For women, the hairdresser and client lead very separate lives, and so their relationship, however enduring, has a secretive, parallel universe quality to it.

The lives of the hairdressers I know are full of the same sort of mayhem that turn up in The Bad Hair Day Mysteries, and so of course, we can project a bit of our hairdressers’ lives onto the Marla Shore character. This, I believe, is what makes Nancy J. Cohen’s mysteries so cozy in the best sense of this traditional genre.