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Marla’s family reunion at a haunted Florida resort turns up dead bodies instead of fond memories in this spooky cozy mystery.

Hairstylist Marla Shore is eager to introduce her fiancé, Detective Dalton Vail, to her extended family over Thanksgiving weekend at Sugar Crest Plantation Resort. But that was before she found Aunt Polly suffocated in bed. Is it a coincidence that her aunt’s father once owned the property? According to rumor, he met with two mysterious Cossacks immediately before his premature death. Their spirits are said to haunt the place, and Marla believes it when she hears a bell tolling outside and feels a cold presence inside the hotel’s rickety elevator.

Are ghosts at fault for the strange goings-on, or could politics be playing a part? Sugar Crest is slated for demolition, although some folks would profit if it was remodeled instead. The city council meeting is being held that weekend to determine the resort’s fate. Tensions deepen when another body turns up on the nature trail. Whatever is going on at Sugar Crest, someone is willing to go to great lengths to keep it hidden. But the killer doesn’t count on Marla, who determines to learn the truth even if it means uprooting her family’s unsavory past.

“Dead Roots has all the right ingredients for a great hair day, absolutely fun, winsome characters, a fast paced, wonderful mystery read!” Heather Graham, NY Times Bestselling Author

238 pages, ebook

First published December 1, 2005

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About the author

Nancy J. Cohen

37 books628 followers
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. Nancy’s imaginative romances have proven popular with fans as well. These books have won the HOLT Medallion and Best Book in Romantic SciFi/Fantasy at The Romance Reviews. Active in the writing community, Nancy is a past president of Florida Romance Writers and Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. When not busy writing, she enjoys reading, fine dining, cruising, and visiting Disney World. Visit her at NancyJCohen.com

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5 stars
70 (25%)
4 stars
89 (31%)
3 stars
86 (30%)
2 stars
30 (10%)
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5 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 24 of 24 reviews
Profile Image for Loraine.
2,886 reviews
October 22, 2012
I enjoyed this cozy mystery with Marta the beautician and her fiance Detective Dalton Vail. A family reunion in Florida combines corpses, family secrets, and romance for a delightful mystery.
14 reviews
September 18, 2014
This was the first book of this series that I have read and most likely the last. Although there were interesting plots (always love hidden passages!) overall, I was bored. I also thought the names were ridiculous. The groundskeeper was Mulch, the hotel manager was Butler, the chef was Brownie, the "ghostbuster" was Spector, and the event coordinator was Champagne Glass. The main character did not appeal to me. She is constantly going by herself to places that she knows are dangerous even though there are tons of family around that she could snag to go with her. She is constantly omitting important pieces of information that her fiance should know because of interruptions. For instance, she's about to tell him something important about the case when a relative approaches to talk about some menial thing. The relative then leaves and the topic is just dropped. Could you not just continue with the conversation? There is also A LOT of sex (nothing R rated). If I wanted to read a romance novel, I wouldn't have picked a mystery. A little romance in a mystery can add to it, but this one just went down that path too many times for one book.

There were also a lot of plot holes. One of the biggest is that this is a mystery about the main characters grandparents. Her mom is at the resort with her and yet she rarely talks to her the whole time. Why would she not use someone who was there and knows first hand. There is an incident mentioned that happened to her mother's sister that is pretty tragic, but is never brought up to the mother. (As a note, it could actually be her mother that the incident is about and the editor missed the character's name change mid book--I really don't know. It was that confusing).
56 reviews1 follower
February 19, 2017
Marla Shore and her fiance are attending a family reunion at Sugar Crest Plantation on Florida's west coast,(that used to be owned by Marla's family) not only is the family meeting Dalton for the first time but they find themselves embarking on another murder mystery. This book is filled with family history, a treasure hunt and ghosts. Are these hauntings real or just ghosts of the past coming to light at the reunion?
While I did like this story I was irritated at how even though she has her tough detective fiance with her, she still goes off on her own and gets into many sticky situations. Also, I thought some of the names in the book were a little corny. Really, Champagne Glass as the social director and Brittany Butterworth (aka Brownie) as the pastry chef!
The story does move Marla and Dalton forward in their future and other issues are resolved and I did enjoy the family history so I'm giving Dead Roots 3 stars.
Profile Image for Devon.
32 reviews
November 18, 2008
Dead Roots was about a thirty-something girl who is attending a family reunion with her boyfriend, Detective Dalton Vail. Unfortunately, her dear Aunt Polly was found suffocated in her bed. Aunt Polly's Father had apparently hidden a fortune in gems somewhere on the grounds of this old plantation. Well, gems and family lead to death and destruction, and not just dear Aunt Polly, either. Dead Roots was an okay read, but left me wondering how Marla & Detective Dalton managed to get to all the place they got to without being seen, and how no one heard the gun shots. I guess I cannot put my finger right on the difficulty I had with it, but it was a slow read and certainly helped me get to sleep quickly. Now, this might not be fair, but it is my feeling, and when I look at the books I read before this one, I am astonished at the difference in the writing.
Profile Image for Lauren.
845 reviews5 followers
April 14, 2011
Pretty fast-paced southern supernatural-ish mystery. Enjoyable, easy to read, likable characters. Nothing extraordinary.

Update: 4/14/2011 Maybe it's just because I'm reading these interspersed with the Carol Higgins Clark/Regan Reilly series, which I'm not loving, but the more I read the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, the more I like them.
42 reviews
October 17, 2016
Dead roots couldn't be a more perfect title.

I enjoyed not only reading this mystery but also enjoyed trying to analyze every minute and every written word. I'm definitely on to number 8 of the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. I don't think it will disappoint considering I've loved them all so far and have been surprised even at the end.
Profile Image for Rachel.
878 reviews13 followers
October 28, 2016
The story was as cute as cozy mysteries come. The names were fantastic puns on the jobs those people did. The family was dysfunctional enough to be real. Reading it was a great way to spend a rainy day.
Profile Image for Christine.
111 reviews2 followers
October 16, 2009
Another great book of the series....can't wait to read the next one
Profile Image for Missy.
1,787 reviews27 followers
December 13, 2011
Book #49 in 2011

This is one of the better books in this series. I love the supernatural component, and Marla doesn't seem like such a ditz for once.
Profile Image for Kim Freitas.
330 reviews4 followers
January 10, 2014
Got a bit confusing at times when one of the characters kept having a name change. Otherwise, good read.
Profile Image for Linda.
1,789 reviews33 followers
June 9, 2014
3.5 stars. I enjoyed this mystery set at Marla's family reunion. You have to live any mystery that has secret passages involved.
8 reviews
January 30, 2017
I love mysteries and this one fit the bill! Loved it and I look forward to reading other of Nancy's mystery novels.
815 reviews16 followers
June 30, 2019
in this 7th book of the bad hair day series, Marla is excited to be introducing her fiance Dalton to her family at their Thanksgiving Day weekend reunion. the reunion was planned by Marla's aunt Polly in a plantation turned resort, Sugar Crest. Lots of family secrets are revealed and paranormal events occur. New interesting, complex and quirky characters are introduced in this story. There are times I was at the edge of my seat! I laughed and cried, could not put this book down! This story has twists and turns and keeps you guessing until the very end. Love this series so much on to the next book now!
Profile Image for Karen.
Author 9 books26 followers
July 22, 2019
I should have quite reading this book after the awful opening sentence. I didn't. Then I should have quit reading after the event coordinator named Champagne Glass was introduced. I didn't. I read this book to the end, thinking it might improve. It didn't. Whom do I bill for the lost couple of hours of my life?
Profile Image for Mary.
Author 26 books234 followers
September 21, 2019
Fantastic series

I love Nancy Cohen’s Bad Hair Day Mysteries. Dead Roots is no exception. Murder, mystery, and a touch of supernatural, keeps amateur sleuth, Marla, searching for answers to a murder and a long-held family secret.

Highly recommended
Profile Image for Susan Moxley.
827 reviews17 followers
February 21, 2018
A real page turner with lots of twists and turns and lots of mystery and action to the very end of the book. It will keep you guessing to the very end of the book.
Profile Image for B.C. Brown.
Author 9 books51 followers
December 5, 2013
Beauty salon owner, Marla Shore, and her fiance, Detective Dalton Vail take a much-needed vacation to her family reunion at Sugar Crest Plantation Resort.

Marla is looking forward to introducing her fiance to her family when a surprise of secret ownership of the planation by her Aunt Polly (and the subsequent death of the same aunt) leads Marla and Dalton on a kooky goose chase including an odd duck ghost hunter on the loose and a series of mysterious deaths, past and present.

Major highlights include:
Likeable characters such as Marla and Dalton.
Humor. The author has a quick, clean humor when she writes.
Detailed mystery. The story has an intricate plot with rich history and several plausible red herrings.

Major lowlights include:
Dull. Perhaps the worst thing a mystery can be is dull. The pacing seemed far too slow. While genuinely interested in the story, the action was so far and few inbetween I was forced to pick up the story to continue.
Flat secondary characters. The ghost hunter was a bit cliched, and Marla's family (while a bit nutty) were flat and seemed lifeless. With the exception of Aunt Polly, the secondary characters in the novel didn't impress.

Overall the story was humorous but fell flat. I may or may not opt to seek out this author in the future other than for sheer curiosity to see if another book might outshine the former.
Profile Image for Jamie.
881 reviews6 followers
January 29, 2017
The first in the series I'd picked up (second-hand book store) and I didn't even finish chapter 1. Usually I try to at least make it to chapter 3, but I could tell from the boatload of exposition being dropped right off the bat that this one was going in the recycling. But even in spite of the stilted dialogue and the blessings of the Exposition Fairy, I still might have made it if it weren't for the social events coordinator. Hate, hate, HATE pun names, and knew I wasn't going to enjoy this one after no one so much as blinked at something as phenomenally stupid as 'Champagne Glass'. Are the names this terrible in the whole series?
49 reviews4 followers
March 4, 2007
great book. easy ready. very entertaining
13 reviews
March 8, 2011
Pretty fast-paced southern supernatural-ish mystery. Enjoyable, easy to read, likable characters. Nothing extraordinary.
Profile Image for Michael crage.
918 reviews4 followers
July 16, 2010
The book was unbelievable. The writing was okay. I will not read any more of the series.
Displaying 1 - 24 of 24 reviews

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