Dyed and Gone by Beth Yarnall is the mystery debut of Azalea March, California hairstylist and salon owner, who'll investigate the death of a hair world celebrity at a Las Vegas convention to clear her best friend's name (available March 25, 2014).
Normally the first book in a cozy series starts off in the main character’s hometown, and you slowly get introduced to supporting characters and the locale. Then, some local person gets bumped off and everyone is a suspect. Dyed and Gone decided to go a different route and ramp it up a notch, or twenty, and it really works.
Right from the start, Azalea and her two best friends (business partner Vivian and stylist Juan Carlos) are in Las Vegas, attending the North American Salon Trade Expo, which Juan Carlos calls “NAST-E.” Prior to the conference, Azalea, dealing badly with her love life, has hit rock bottom:
I’d been dangling at the end of a string of very poor romantic choices and losing my grip fast when Vivian had burst into my apartment the day before yesterday. She’d yanked the TV cable right out of the wall, ending my three-day, tear-inducing Hallmark channel marathon.
“Please tell me you haven’t bid on any more of those horrible flower dresses,” she’d said, hands on hips. This wasn’t the first time she’d rescued me from floral disaster.
My guilty gaze flew to the laptop on the coffee table in front of me propped up by a stack of bridal magazines, my finger hovering over the return key. “Ah, no?” Not yet, anyway.
“Azalea!” She rushed over to where I sat on the couch and looked at the screen. “Oh, for God’s sake. That’s the ugliest one yet.” She closed the computer, sat down next to me, and pulled my Buy Now hand into hers. “You can’t bury your feelings in sappy movies and vintage Laura Ashley dresses. You’re getting out of here. Now. Pack a bag.”
How did she always seem to know when I was at my lowest? This particular low had been courtesy of a too-hot-to-be-legal cop who’d done the old I’ll-call-you thing and then didn’t. The jerk.
Juan Carlos had skidded to a stop in the entryway. He’d leaned on the doorjamb, one hand over his heart, huffing and puffing as though he’d run a marathon instead of up my three front steps. “Please tell me we got here in time to stop Laura Ingalls Wilder from adding to her Little House on the Depressed Prairie collection.”
Of course, this is a murder mystery, so not all of the Las Vegas fun is hair extensions and dye jobs.