St. Elizabeth, Georgia offers charm, Southern hospitality – and, most recently, murder. Now, hairdresser Grace Terhune is ready to crack this case – before things get snarled beyond repair…
Everyone at Violetta’s salon – including Grace Terhune and her mother, Violetta – has their scissors at the ready for the influx of St. Elizabeth’s high-society ladies. Of all the snobs getting their hair done for the town meeting, the worst is Constance DuBois, a woman heartless enough to ruin people’s livelihoods on a whim. And after a tinting accident leaves her hair with orange stripes, Constance vows she’ll close down Violetta’s…
Hours after the threat, Grace and Violetta find Constance dead, and some – including the police – believe the mother-daughter duo did her in. Grace sets out to clear their names, but with an accusing police force, and the distraught daughter of the deceased all working against them, Grace is up to her perfectly shaped eye-brows in trouble.
I really did enjoy this book, at 292 pages it has more substance than some other cosies on the market. The pacing was excellent, a nice zippy read and the plotting was good. The back story was elegantly included, rather than the traditional ‘first 2 chapters are the background’ way of doing it, Dare shows her writing prowess by dispersing character histories throughout the book in an unobtrusive manner. The romance element is nicely done and very enjoyable, not at all invasive it slots into the narrative well and serves to make Grace more likable.
The plotting is great and I like that Dare seems to know just how far to push her readers when it comes to annoying characters. Although, a slight moan, I feel bad mentioning it really, but the delineation between ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ is very clearly marked, and almost makes the ‘baddies’ seem a little stereotypical. The real downside is the very, very sudden and drastic bursting of the reader bubble at the climax of the story. I won’t include any spoilers but the murderer has a bizarre, lengthy (about 3 pages!) soliloquy explaining in great detail the motive and exactly how the murder was carried out. It’s very odd. That said, the main characters are lovely, I really enjoyed the fact that there were so many likable female characters, plus the writer created a real family atmosphere. I found the skin care recipes somewhat redundant, maybe others will enjoy them but I don’t really feel they added anything to the book. I understand that the publisher likes to include these things and I do find them fun but I wonder if they will continue or if, like Leslie Meier, Lila Dare will be able to drop the gimmick later in the series. I don’t mind either way, I’ll still be buying the next installment and I hope that there is a lot more to come in the ‘Southern Beauty Shop’ series.
Lila Dare has a website