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Authors: Lila Dare

Die Job

BOOK: Die Job
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Praise for
the Southern Beauty Shop Mysteries

“A CHARMING NEW SERIES.”


The Mystery Reader

“FANS OF THE THEMED COZY WILL REJOICE.”


Publishers Weekly
(starred review)

“I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE NEXT BOOK!”


Fresh Fiction

Polished Off

“Terrific… A fast-paced whodunit. This is a winning Georgia peach mystery.”


The Mystery Gazette

“This first-rate mystery is well written, with smooth dialogue, plenty of action, and numerous suspects. Readers will be guessing all the way to the end as the victims pile up and the spunky and smart Grace stumbles upon a killer and a motive no one saw coming.”


RT Book Reviews

“Lila Dare…once again delights her new legion of fans with a lively, hilarious mystery that will have readers biting their manicures as they try to figure out whodunit. Add in a touch of romance…and you’ve got a cozy mystery that sizzles like the Georgia heat in summer. I can’t wait for the next book in this series.”


Fresh Fiction

“So many twists and turns and side stories are sure to keep the reader engaged in an interesting whodunit. As a bonus, organic skin-care recipes are included. A fun read all-around!”


The Romance Readers Connection

Tressed to Kill

“Fans of the themed cozy will rejoice as new talent Dare debuts her Southern Beauty Shop series…Dare turns this off-the-rack concept into a tightly plotted, suspenseful mystery, and readers will love the pretty, plucky, smart, slightly damaged heroine and the rest of the charming cast.”


Publishers Weekly
(starred review)

“Humor, heart, and a first-class whodunit…Readers will be anxious to make the return trip to St. Elizabeth, Georgia, to check in on the adventures of the girls from Violetta’s.”

—Casey Daniels, author of
A Hard Day’s Fright


Tressed to Kill
sparkles…Stylish, swift-paced, and charming. An endearing heroine, delightful characters, and an authentic Southern setting.”

—Carolyn Hart, author of
Dead by Midnight

“Enticing and eccentric Southern characters combined with suspenseful tension and twists.”

—Linda O. Johnston, author of
The More the Terrier

“[A] nicely plotted and well-executed mystery. With its uniquely Southern setting and snappy characters, this mystery is an exceptionally good addition to the cozy genre.”


Romantic Times

“Loaded with Southern charm, Lila Dare’s first mystery is full of warm, eccentric characters, and hometown warmth.”


The Mystery Reader

“The story will grab you, and the ending is fabulous.”


Once Upon a Romance

“A lot of twists and turns…Ms. Dare pens a winner. Don’t miss
Tressed to Kill
if you love small-town mysteries with eye-opening secrets at every turn!”


TwoLips Reviews

Berkley Prime Crime titles by Lila Dare

TRESSED TO KILL

POLISHED OFF

DIE JOB

LILA DARE

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada

(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia

(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand

(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,

South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

DIE JOB

A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author

PRINTING HISTORY

Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / January 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Cover illustration by Brandon Dorman.

Cover design by Annette Fiore Defex.

Interior text design by Kristin del Rosario.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

ISBN: 978-0-425-24588-0

BERKLEY® PRIME CRIME

Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

BERKLEY® PRIME CRIME and the PRIME CRIME logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1

If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

For Paige Wheeler and Michelle Vega,
who took a chance on me

[ACKNOWLEDGMENTS]

Many, many thanks to all the usual suspects—you know who you are—who sustain my spirits, support my writing life, encourage me in my writing passion, and befriend and love me through it all. I hope I do the same for you.

Table of Contents

 

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen:

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter One

[Friday]

ST. ELIZABETH SITS SMACK DAB ON THE GEORGIA coast, so when the weather forecasters start talking about a hurricane headed our way, even if it’s still way out at sea, conversation at the salon tends to center on the storm. I knew from prior experience that the Piggly Wiggly shelves would be emptied by people stocking up with enough groceries to last through Armageddon; flashlights and batteries would disappear from the hardware stores; and cars, vans, and campers would clog every road as people headed inland to escape the flooding and power outages. The forecasters were saying Hurricane Horatio would probably turn north before it got to us—as most of the storms did—and come ashore somewhere in the Carolinas, so I didn’t plan to panic just yet (although I might buy a box of Twinkies, using the rationale that the preservative-rich sponge cakes would outlast life as we know it, never mind a hurricane-induced power outage). I
was in the minority, however, as most of the customers at Violetta’s, my mom’s salon, joyfully wallowed in worrying about worst-case scenarios.

“I’ve heard it’s going to be as bad as Hurricane Floyd in 1999,” one customer said.

“These late-season storms are always the worst,” her husband said wisely from the waiting area, which consisted of two chintz-covered chairs, a matching love seat, and a couple of tables.

“I was in Charleston for Hugo,” another woman said, “and we lost power for well over a week. This can’t possibly be that bad.”

“My sister’s house was flattened by Andrew,” an elderly woman piped up from the Nail Nook, where our manicurist, Stella Michaelson, was painting her toenails a vivid orange.

Ah, hurricane one-upmanship, a popular pastime on the coast whenever the forecasters start talking about named storms.

“I’m evacuating,” a client said later that afternoon as I highlighted her hair. “Len and I are going to stay with his folks in Atlanta. I’m not living on canned ravioli like we did before we got the power back after the last storm. Although, the way his mom cooks, it’s a toss-up. What are you and Violetta doing, Grace?”

“Oh, we’ll ride it out,” I said, carefully folding a foil around a section of hair. “This house has lasted almost two hundred years . . . I don’t suppose Horatio will be able to blow it down.” And my mother, Violetta Terhune, owner of the house and the salon that occupied the front rooms, wouldn’t leave for anything less than a tsunami. It was like she believed her presence in the house would help it withstand wind and rain and hail and flooding.

“You’re lucky,” my client said. “They built to last in those days. We bought in that new area, Delta Bayou, and I swear our condo is made of plywood and tissue paper.”

BOOK: Die Job
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