I'm happy to turn over Cozy Up With Kathy to Nancy J. Cohen today. Nancy writes the Bad Hair Day Mystery series. Star Tangled Murder is the eighteenth book in the series and was released last week.
History and Mystery by Nancy J. Cohen
Bringing history into a contemporary mystery can give added depth to a story. I’ve used this technique several times in my Bad Hair Day cozy mystery series. These books feature hairstylist and salon owner Marla Vail, who lives in South Florida with her family and two dogs. While I enjoy reading historical mysteries, I couldn’t bear to do the research required to write one. But I can bring historical elements into my current stories. For example, in Facials Can Be Fatal, I used actual excerpts from my father’s journal detailing his 1935 trip to Florida. Dead Roots takes place at a haunted hotel with a ghost story that traces back to Marla’s Russian roots. And Peril by Ponytail delves into copper mining in Arizona.
For Star Tangled Murder, my latest title, I was inspired by a visit to Yesteryear Village in West Palm Beach. This living history experience has costumed guides who describe early twentieth century life in Florida. It’s a fascinating place to visit and gives a glimpse into our state’s past. I loved the place so much that I decided to set my mystery in a similar location. I renamed it Pioneer Village and populated it with buildings similar to those I’d seen at Yesteryear’s history park. This task was made easier by videos and maps posted online. Next came the fun part of creating characters. This was easy since there was a built-in cast. The schoolhouse, old jail, stately mansion, church, fishing shed, blacksmith shop, farm and general store supplied major players in terms of tour guides who would become suspects.
Then I had to select a victim. Once I’d figured out who had to die, I determined where and how it would happen. But when would this story take place? I’d never done a Fourth of July book, so why not center it around that holiday? Marla and her homicide detective husband, Dalton, attend a historic battle reenactment over Fourth of July weekend at the village. But which battle to use?
I researched reenactments in Florida and decided the Seminole Wars would be the most suitable. Dade's Battle of 1835 acted as a model for my event. Again, I watched videos online to get a sense of the scene. Therein lies the danger of falling down the research rabbit hole. From battle scenes to Fourth of July celebrations to historic descriptions of the pioneer village, I had fun researching this story and learning something new. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.
Do you appreciate a historical angle in a cozy mystery?
Star Tangled Murder (Bad Hair Day Mysteries) by Nancy J Cohen
About Star Tangled Murder
Cozy Mystery 18th in Series
Setting - Florida
Orange Grove Press (March 14, 2023)
Paperback: 284 pages
Hairstylist Marla Vail and her husband get tangled up in murder when their Fourth of July visit to a living history village ends with a bang—and a body.
Salon owner Marla Vail and her detective husband Dalton are having a blast visiting a Florida living history village over Fourth of July weekend. But when a Seminole battle reenactment turns up a real dead body, it sets off fireworks among the villagers. One of the cast members has gone off script to murder the town marshal with a tomahawk in his head.
As Dalton gets involved in the investigation, Marla determines to help him solve the case. Her flare for uncovering secrets reveals that everyone in the village is a suspect. Instead of celebrating the holiday with red, white, and barbecues, she discovers secrets, lies, and false avenues. Did the marshal’s murder have anything to do with a lost Confederate payroll, or did his plans to renovate the park light a fuse that he couldn’t snuff out?
In a place where history comes alive, the dead bodies are piling up. Marla would rather be chilling and grilling, but somebody’s mind is on killing. If she’s not careful, her sleuthing might blow up in her face like a faulty firecracker and she'll become the next victim. Recipes Included!
About Nancy J. Cohen
Nancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have been named Best Cozy Mystery by Suspense Magazine, won the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards and the RONE Award, placed first in the Chanticleer International Book Awards and third in the Arizona Literary Awards. Her nonfiction titles, Writing the Cozy Mystery and A Bad Hair Day Cookbook, have won the FAPA President’s Book Award, the Royal Palm Literary Award, and IAN Book of the Year. When not busy writing, Nancy enjoys reading, fine dining, cruising, and visiting Disney World.