Yesterday, I had the pleasure of posting about the first book in the Southern Beauty Shop Mystery series, Tressed to Kill. Today is a follow-up about book two, Polished Off, which was just released this month.
Product Description: Audrey Faye sashays into Violetta’s Salon looking for stylists for the Miss Magnolia Blossom pageant. Hairdresser Grace Terhune’s opportunity quickly turns into a nightmare with anti-pageant protestors, angry mothers, frantic contestants…and then, a very dead Audrey. The murder weapon was a nail file, making Violetta’s manicurist, Stella, the prime suspect. Now Grace must find the real murderer before she is polished off permanently.
Like the first book in the series, Polished Off begins in the salon at Violetta’s house, the heart of activity for the female characters and the hub of their social and familial networks. And while it still surprises me that I am into that, there are several reasons this book is a winner for me, and the great relationships among the women are just part of it!
Another reason and one of the most interesting things about this book was that the connections between a beauty salon and a beauty pageant are obvious. There could have been no complication of the objectification of women or of the role beauty plays in our lives. Instead, this cozy tackles a heavy-handed feminist view of pageants (they are always evil) and complicates it by noting how people make their lives from it and can win life-changing scholarships. And while, yes, that has been done (think Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality), it seems fresh and interesting here interspersed between mayhem and murder.
I also really like how each women tries to live her own life without interfering in each other’s more than would be welcome. And, I can’t say too much about this point without giving away plot details that some readers will not want ahead of time, but I can say, Grace, Violetta, and Althea all struggle with deciding when one should mind her own business, and they all make great decisions. This really combats the stereotype of amateur sleuth as busybody present in so many cozies.
And that leads to my final point, which is one that I made yesterday: this series has strong female characters who do not need to be saved, rescued, told to butt out. So while they have great relationships with each other, they are also each unique and interesting of themselves.
Oh, and did I mention that each book in this series has recipes for organic health care products? They do; happy reading!