"Star Tangled Murder" By Nancy J. Cohen: Review/Giveaway

Review by Cynthia Chow

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and a link to purchase it.

For the Fourth of July holiday, hair salon owner Marla Vail and her husband Dalton are heading to Florida’s Pioneer Village, which is holding an 1836 battle reenactment as their biggest fundraising event. While the historical fight between soldiers and Seminole warriors that ended tragically is perhaps a little problematic, the Village celebrates its past and makes the point that even, and perhaps especially, the mistakes should not be forgotten. During their tour of Pioneer Village, Marla and Dalton meet “Marshal” Phileas Pufferfish, who is leading a movement for the Village to buy the fairgrounds on the principle that it will save funds. Somewhat like Disney World (but on a much, much smaller scale), the Village is managed by the appointed administrator Phil but overseen by a property-owning nonprofit organization. When Marla finds Phil’s body whacked with a tomahawk after the battle’s reenactment, the suspects of those who would have ultimately lost out in the proposal include a shopkeeper, blacksmith, farmer, and minister. A virtual game of Clue in the 1800s, as it were.

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Image Source Orange Grove Press
By this time in their marriage, Homicide Detective Dalton Vail has become accustomed to his wife’s amateur murder investigations. In fact, Dalton asks for Marla’s help as she has a hairstylist’s gift for encouraging confidences and coaxing out information from suspects once they are comfortably seated in her chair. She does indeed have a gift, as Marla quickly learns that Phil’s plan left a multitude of grumpy shopkeepers, he attempted to abuse his authority over women, and he wasn’t shy about using information as blackmail. Through Marla’s visits to the exhibitions and her salon-induced interrogations, she and her friends winnow down the suspects as they filter through alibis and narrow down motives. Their investigations do not go unnoticed, as a poison-laced gift of chocolates intended for Marla has dire results when ingested by the wrong sweet-tempted taster.

This eighteenth of the series is sure to please long-time fans as it brings back favorite characters and gives them their appropriate happy endings. Deli store-owner Arnie is over his crush on Marla and now joyfully married with a growing family. Marla’s new employees are settling in nicely, and her best friends Tally and Nicole are busy with their own lives. It’s Marla who is having to make the biggest adjustment in her life as Dalton plans to clock in his twenty years as a police officer and retire, and she is somewhat obsessed with finding him outlets for his upcoming free time to prevent his becoming bored or without a purpose. While Marla still has her hands full with their young son, her stepdaughter Brianna is enthusiastically about to leave for college, leaving them not quite empty nesters but still with a gap in their household. As a murderer and poisoner are captured and Dalton’s retirement party finally held, he and Marla will be ready for the next step in their exciting and entertaining lives. Hopefully readers will be able to again join them along the way.

To enter to win either an ebook or print copy of Star Tangled Murder (winner's choice), simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "tangled,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 8, 2023. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win. If entering via comment please include your email address so we can contact you. BE SURE TO STATE IF YOU WANT PRINT OR EBOOK. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new episode goes up next month.

You can use this link to purchase the book or click here. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).
 Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Thank you so much for the wonderful review!

  2. Sounds interesting! Count me in!

  3. Lesson lerned - never play with a tomahawk.
    Sounds interesting. thanks

  4. Would really like to read. Great series. I prefer a print copy.

  5. A cozy during the Fourth of July sounds fun! lindaherold999(at)gmail(dot)com

  6. I've been hearing a lot about this one, sounds good! tWarner419@aol.com

  7. This book looks absolutely amazing and the cover is just perfect. If I win I would love a print copy. My email is: Maycarlson6848@gmail.com Thanks so very much. Linda May


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