Friday, April 4, 2014

Nancy Cohen - Hair-Raising Whodunits

Mix together a sassy hairdresser with a penchant for sleuthing, a sexy detective and some eccentric friends and neighbors. Stir in an unconventional murder or two. Bake in the South Florida sun, and you have the makings of Nancy J. Cohen’s delicious “Bad Hair Day” mystery series.

Cohen spent ten years as a registered nurse before retiring to become a full-time writer. After purchasing a copy of Robert C. Meredith’s Structuring Your Novel, she decided writing was her real calling. In 1975, she completed her first book but was unable to find a publisher. She wrote two more novels, both of which were rejected. Undaunted, Cohen joined Florida Romance Writers in 1988 along with a critique group, found herself an agent, and kept right on writing.

Then an author friend suggested she combine her love of science fiction stories with romance. Cohen seized on the idea and went on to write her first futuristic romance, Circle of Light. This became her first published novel. “It was the seventh book I’d written and the first one I’d sold,” she says.  The novel, a book Cohen describes as “a paranormal romance,” went on to win the 1994 Holt Medallion Award. Written under the pseudonym Nancy Cane, it tells the story of Sarina Bretton, a young attorney who is kidnapped from Earth and falls in love with her intergalactic abductor. Spurred on by the book’s success, Cohen wrote two companion novels to create "The Light-Years" Trilogy (now available in revised digital formats under her real name).

In 1999, Cohen decided to try a change of pace with Permed to Death, the first in what was to become an ongoing mystery series starring South Florida hairstylist Marla Shore, a  wannabe detective who manages to find herself in the middle of some very unusual murders. Whether it’s an elderly woman who expires in Marla’s shampoo chair, a mysterious death on a Caribbean cruise ship, the murder of the owner of a competitor’s salon, or the discovery of a body under the cake table at a friend’s wedding reception, Marla just can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Luckily, she can depend on a handsome detective, to help her over the rough spots. “These are cozy mysteries, which are lighter than the gritty ‘noir’ type,” Cohen explains. “They involve an amateur sleuth who we know will solve the crime and give us a happy ending. These stories leave readers with a smile and a satisfied, happy feeling – a nice escape from the daily news.”

The latest “Bad Hair Day” mystery is Hanging By A Hair, in which a homeowners’ association president is found dead after Marla’s husband, Dalton, argues with him. When Dalton, a homicide detective, is removed from the case due to a conflict of interest, Marla resolves to solve the crime. Anyone who’s belonged to an HOA will relate to this entertaining story.

Cohen also writes the “Drift Lords” Series—paranormal romances based on Norse mythology. Warrior Rogue is the latest title, and coming next from Wild Rose Press is Warrior Lord. A reviewer from Manic Readers says, Cohen’s futuristic, paranormal romance series blends aspects of science fiction with magic and mythology then tops it off with steamy sexy scenes that are so hot you will need a fan and a mint julep drink to cool off…I love the Drift Lords so much I dream of having one of my own. Many thanks to Nancy J. Cohen for creating such a delightful series.”
Currently, Cohen is working on Peril by Ponytail, Book 12 in her “Bad Hair Day” Mysteries. She’s also serving as President for Florida Chapter Mystery Writers of America and as Vice-President for Florida Romance Writers.

In spite of the non-stop work hours, Cohen wouldn’t have it any other way. “I love the storytelling process, but my real satisfaction comes from sharing my stories with readers. Their feedback inspires me and encourages me to keep writing.”
For more information, visit the author’s website at



  1. Nancy is a writing MACHINE! Thanks to her for adding her good books to the shelves of work by Fla-based writers, and to Jackie -- as always! -- for bringing the books to readers' attention.

    1. I don't know about a machine although some days I feel like one!

  2. Jackie, thanks so much for this wonderful feature article. I am honored to be among my illustrious fellow Florida authors.

  3. Wow, Nancy! I'm exhausted just reading your list of accomplishments. I'm putting "Hanging by a Hair" on my TBR list right now!

  4. The Drift Lord series, the Bad Hair Day series, you've got me covered :) Love the sound of both! Best of luck with this newest title! Barb Bettis

  5. Nancy,

    I think it's great that you are writing both a successful mystery and romance series. Best wishes.