Read 11 Hanging by a Hair Online
Authors: Nancy J. Cohen
ANGING BY A
A BAD HAIR DAY MYSTERY
A part of Gale, Cengage Learning
Copyright © 2014 by Nancy J. Cohen.
Five Star™ Publishing, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination, or, if real, used fictitiously.
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LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA
Cohen, Nancy J., 1948–
Hanging by a hair : A Bad Hair Day Mystery / Nancy J. Cohen. — First Edition.
pages cm. — (Bad hair day mystery)
ISBN-13: 978-1-4328-2814-1 (hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-4328-2814-2 (hardcover)
eISBN-13: 978-1-4328-2997-1 eISBN-10: 1-4328-2997-1
1. Shore, Marla (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Women detectives—Florida—Fiction. 3. Beauty operators—Fiction. 4. Florida—Fiction. I. Title.
First Edition. First Printing: April 2014
This title is available as an e-book.
ISBN-13: 978-1-4328-2997-1 ISBN-10: 1-4328-2997-1
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Thanks to Robin Burcell, author of
The Black List
and former police officer, detective, and forensic artist, for answering my questions on police procedure and forensics.
As always, with gratitude to Detective R.C. White from Fort Lauderdale Police (retired). Thank you for your detailed responses to my crime-related questions.
(In Alphabetical Order)
—President of Royal Oaks Homeowners Association, retired insurance company owner. Marla and Dalton’s next-door neighbor.
—Blond graphic designer and Marla’s neighbor on the next street over. She works from home and is single.
—Building supplier who is Krabber’s cousin. He claims the window leaks aren’t his fault.
—A divorcee with two children, Cherry is treasurer for Royal Oaks HOA. She’s a history professor who specializes in Native American cultures.
—A real estate agent, Debbie is secretary for the HOA. She has strawberry blond hair and is a wife and mother. Her sister Hannah has been ill.
—Construction company owner bidding for a lucrative contract from HOA to build a playground in the Royal Oaks community.
—Gayle’s son and owner of Steers Industries, a manufacturer of polyvinyl extrusions. He sold his product to Beamis Woodhouse’s company.
—Alan Krabber’s former flame. Married to Donald, she has three children, lives on Marco Island and runs a clothing shop.
—Vice President of Royal Oaks HOA who takes over as acting president in the wake of a vacancy. He supports the playground bid from Erik Mansfield. Gene is a furniture store manager at Lemmings and Sons.
—The shaman for the Immowakee tribe is Cherry’s distant cousin. His office is located in a nearby casino. He’s concerned with respecting the ancestral spirits.
—A detective newly transferred to the Palm Haven police force, Kat is Dalton’s new partner.
—Krabber’s nephew and heir, Philip is a travel writer for the Global Rainforest Foundation.
—Developer of the master community including Royal Oaks, Ron stands to lose millions if Krabber’s secret is exposed.
—Marla’s neighbor on the other side of Krabber’s house. Married with two children, Susan is a consulting editor for a women’s magazine and a blogger.
Author’s Note: This cast is limited to the principals in
Hanging by a Hair
and does not include recurring characters like Marla’s friends, relatives, and salon personnel.
Marla Vail sat wedged between her husband Dalton in the aisle seat and a young couple on the other side. Her temples throbbed from the stark overhead lighting and the musty odor of old carpet in their community clubhouse. Or maybe her headache was induced by Alan Krabber, president of the Royal Oaks Homeowners Association. He ran their annual meeting with the subtlety of a drill sergeant.
Krabber sat at a long table facing the members. Flanking him to his left were the other Board officers. He addressed one of the residents in an exasperated tone.
“I don’t care how long your sister is visiting, lady. City code says recreational vehicles have to be parked in a side yard, and that includes trailers like hers. They’re supposed to be blocked from view by a solid fence or dense shrubbery.”
“But my sister is only staying for two weeks. It’s not like her trailer will be there forever.” The elderly woman’s voice quaked.
“Doesn’t matter.” Krabber glared at her. “The rules stand. We can’t make exceptions. If you don’t want the vehicle on your property, tell her to leave it at the community center.”
Marla gritted her teeth. She and Dalton had the misfortune to live next door to the president. Alan Krabber had already aggravated them by digging a big hole in his backyard. The open pit, waiting for a propane tank to fuel a standby generator, was hazardous to pets and small children. But that wasn’t the only reason why Marla’s blood pressure elevated. Now Alan had the chutzpah to quote city code when he’d violated it.
Dalton raised his hand after the older lady resumed her seat.
“Pardon me,” he said after Krabber gestured for him to speak, “but wouldn’t those rules also apply to the boat parked in your driveway?”
“Nah.” Krabber’s mouth curved in a disdainful smirk. He was a heavy-set guy with receding brown hair above a wide forehead and wire-rimmed glasses. “My boat is a modest size, and it’s not as unsightly as a trailer.”
“You just said no exceptions can be made. Aren’t you being hypocritical?”
The president jabbed his pudgy finger in the air. “You know, you’ve already complained to me about the construction crew in my backyard and the paved walkway on the side of my house. Why don’t you let this one go, buddy?”
Dalton stiffened. “You can’t condemn a resident’s trailer in one breath and excuse your own transgression in the next. The code applies to everyone. Just because you’re president doesn’t mean you can skirt the rules.”
Marla noticed the tense look on his face and swallowed. A homicide detective in the local police force, Dalton had a tendency to play by the book.
She tugged on his shirt. “Dalton, we’re new here,” she said in a hushed tone. “Maybe we should discuss this with Alan in private.”
He glared at her, a lock of peppery hair falling across his forehead. “No way. Mr. Krabber has clearly stated the code and insisted that woman follow it to the letter. He can’t be allowed to mow everyone over and then do what he wants. If he intends to keep his boat on his property, he has to hide it from view as the code states.”
His face as red as a sunburned tourist, Krabber leaned forward. “You’ve been in this neighborhood for how long now, buddy?” He counted on his fingers. “This is March, and you moved in around the end of January. Things have been just fine without your input. But to make you happy, I’ll consider your objections.”
“You’ll have to do more than that, or I’ll report you to code enforcement.”
A thin guy raised his hand. “You know, he’s right, Alan. Maybe we should take a vote.”
Murmurs of consent wafted through the room. A show of hands reinforced the rule.
Marla breathed a sigh of relief when Dalton resumed his seat with a satisfied grunt. This wasn’t how she’d imagined their first homeowners’ meeting.
He shot her a reproving glance. “What? Someone has to uphold the law, and it might as well be me. Our neighbors agreed that Alan should follow the code, so I’m not alone. The vote went in my favor.”
Oh, joy. Maybe you should run for office. You can ticket people for speeding down the side streets or putting their trash out the night before pickup day.
Dalton couldn’t hold still when they got to the budget. His hand shot up when Gene Uris, the vice president, called for questions. Gene pointed to him with a pained glance, as though he knew a troublemaker when he saw one.