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KILLER HAIR: A Crime of Fashion Mystery
by Ellen Byerrum
Signet, August 2003
276 pages
ISBN: 0451209486

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

KILLER HAIR is Ellen Byerrum’s debut novel. Lacey Smithsonian writes a fashion column for one of Washington DC’s minor papers. She does profess to have little fashion sense beyond the average person; yet, she seems to know a great deal more than she realizes. Her new hair stylist Stella wants her to investigate the death of a fellow stylist at Stylettos. Angie Wood was found with her hair hacked off and a suicide note written in blood. Angie loved her hair and the cut was obviously done by someone who was not a professional. The police believe that she was a suicide, while Stella is positive it was murder. Lacey agrees to at least write about the possible murder but has no desire to investigate the death. Unfortunately, she finds herself involved with this murder investigation as well as a political scandal involving an intern and pornography. An ex-almost boyfriend, Victor Donovan, from Colorado, has reappeared as the head of security for Stylettos. While battling hormones, Lacey must solve Angie’s murder before anyone else is murdered.

KILLER HAIR is a stereotypical cozy; yet, it somehow manages to feel fresh as well. It almost feels as though Byerrum is using the stereotypical cozy elements to revitalize the book. There are numerous examples of this but just to name two: yes, there is a love interest; however, it all seems to be from Lacey’s end. Yes, she is always fashionable but she is not trying to be. By taking the stereotypes of the genre, the book forces the genre to revitalize itself.

It was interesting to see the world of trendy hairstylists from a different point of view. Although there were temperamental artists, there were also people that cared about one another and were concerned with Angie’s death. The spiked hair and other punk elements were shown as a method of self-expression, not of self-loathing. It was also interesting to see a fashion column, which the columnist hates, be such an important part of other people’s lives. The stylists and other fashion gurus actually listen to what Lacey has to say, much to her chagrin.

It will be interesting to see if Ellen Byerrum will be able to write future books without losing the spunkiness apparent in KILLER HAIR.

Reviewed by Sarah Dudley, August 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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