Peril by Ponytail
Bad Hair Day Mystery, Book #12
By Nancy J. Cohen
Author’s Website: http://nancyjcohen.com
Hoping for a romantic honeymoon at an Arizona dude ranch, Marla and Dalton arrive to find a series of mishaps plaguing the resort. A nearby ghost town is suffering similar problems. Is it a coincidence that Dalton’s Uncle Raymond owns both properties? When the patriarch asks for their help in finding the culprit, Marla and Dalton eagerly accept. News of a local forest ranger’s death raises the stakes, especially when they learn the man was Raymond’s friend.
Since sleuthing comes more naturally to Marla than horseback riding, she throws herself into the investigation with her usual zest. But as she digs deeper, she discovers skeletons in the family closet. Someone means to drive Raymond out of business, and the reason may be linked to his past misdeeds. But Raymond isn’t the only one with secrets. The trail leads Marla from an environmental activist group to saguaro poachers to water rights proponents to an old copper mine beneath the ghost town. She’d better saddle up, rein in the clues, and find the killer before she becomes the next spirit inhabiting the haunted hillside.
In this explosive tale of murder and mayhem, buried secrets surface and threaten to tear Marla’s new family apart. As the bodies pile up, Marla races to find proof that Dalton’s uncle is innocent. Or is he more involved than he wants them to believe? This adventurous mystery will have you turning pages while wondering how well you truly know your relatives.
Jumping into a series at this late date (book #12) can be difficult as the reader does not have the back story on the main characters. However I must commend Nancy J. Cohen on creating a story and developing these characters in such a manner that I was not at all lost. And as such, I look forward to being able to read the first 11 books of the series in due course.
Marla Vail (hairstylist) and Dalton Vail (a homicide detective) are newlyweds heading off on their honeymoon from their home in Florida. As a favor to Dalton’s family, this overdue honeymoon is taking place on Dalton’s families’ dude ranch in Arizona. One main factor is because a forest ranger has died under suspicious circumstances, and there has been a rash of supposed accidents (or are they ???) at both the ranch and ghost town that Uncle Ray is in the process of constructing. There was depth to both main characters which definitely added to my enjoyment of the story.
I really enjoyed the familial interactions, especially with Annie Campbell. I really felt connected and kept hoping that Marla and Dalton would finally figure out what was going on (and of course…they did ☺). And Uncle Ray was an interesting character. I really liked that at the beginning of the book there was a “List of Characters” outlining everyone within the context of the series. Even though Marla and Dalton were helping to solve a family mystery, they never lost sight of the fact that it was their honeymoon. I thought this story line was portrayed tastefully, cute and left some things to the imagination of the reader.
There were MANY twists and turns to this tale adding to the enjoyment of this read. One little snafu is that I was able to figure out the ‘whodunit’ before it was revealed…and that left me a bit flummoxed. Luckily, the writing and story was well told so that my interest was held throughout. I have even put other titles by this author on my TBR pile ☺
If you would like to read an enjoyable, entertaining and engaging cozy mystery (though this one did have a bit more gun play than is usual), then Peril by Ponytail is your book!