Hair stylist Grace Terhune is persuaded by high school student and part-time shampoo girl Rachel Whitley to help chaperone Rachel's science class on a ghost-hunting field trip the night before Halloween. Local legend says Cyril Rothmere was murdered and is now haunting his former residence and Rachel's class has been given the task to debunk the ghost stories. When Rachel's friend Braden McCullers falls and is critically injured on the same staircase as Cyril fell to his death, new rumors begin that Cyril's ghost is responsible. Grace is afraid Braden's fall was caused by a human suspect and decides to find out what really happened in the old mansion.
I really enjoyed this book. The author combines several appealing elements to tell an interesting story. There is a little bit of Southern charm in the setting of the homey beauty salon with a possibly haunted mansion on top of that. I also love the camaraderie of the main characters Grace and her mother Violetta who owns the salon as well as the other employees of the shop, including family friend Althea Jenkins. It's nice to see such a diverse group of friends in terms of age and ethnic background of the characters and especially to see a healthy relationship between Grace and Violetta. So many cozies have the stereotypical overbearing, intolerable mother and while Violetta isn't above giving Grace hints in the romance department, she does so in a pleasant, loving manner. Grace loves and respects her mother and I liked the part of the book when Grace isn't sure what to say to comfort another character, she thinks about how her mom would handle the situation to guide her.
Grace and Violetta's co-workers in the shop are supportive friends and add to the enjoyment of the story. Althea is a strong, no-nonsense character and when she and Grace team up to do some investigating, the results are very entertaining. Rachel is a hard-worker and a caring, compassionate young women and it's great to see a teenager being portrayed in this way.
Fairly predictably, there is chemistry between Grace and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation special agent investigating the case. However, complicating any possible romance between the charming John Dillon and Grace is Marty. Grace had recently started dating Marty when he took a job out of state, but it's soon to count out him out. From what I can see, either would be a good match for Grace. It's so refreshing that the heroine has two possible love interests that are both great guys.
Grace feels partially responsible for Braden's condition since she was one of the chaperones and investigation and she makes a capable detective as she investigates the incident at the Rothmere mansion. While Grace investigates, the town of St. Elizabeth, Georgia braces itself for a hurricane that sends many people evacuating. In the meantime, Grace is also doing some investigating into what really happened to Cyril Rothmere. Through her research, Grace gets attached to Clarissa, the long-deceased daughter of Cyril, by reading original letters from the Rothmere estate. This sub-plot is very touching and shows Grace to be a sensitive, caring person and also ties into her investigation of what happened to Braden. There are several clues throughout the book that hinted at the true story of who would want to kill Braden, but I was kept guessing until the very end. There is an unexpected twist at the end that was a pleasant surprise that really added to the story. The book also included several skin care tips at the end in keeping with the beauty salon theme.
Fans of Anne George will appreciate this series by Lila Dare. "Die Job" is the third book in the series, but I had no problem figuring out who's who and connecting with the delightful characters. However, I will be looking up the prior books in this Southern Beauty Shop mystery series to catch up on what I missed and look forward to the next installment in this delightful series.
This review was originally written for The Season EZine. The book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.