Nancy J. Cohen, J. Cohen Nancy, . . Kensington, $22 (240pp) ISBN 978-1-57566-687-7

In this middling cozy, Florida hairdresser Marla Shore steps out of her salon into a deadly fitness club for her third excursion as an amateur sleuth (after 2000's Hair Raiser). Taking advantage of a free trial membership, Marla encounters one of her customers, Jolene Myers, on her first visit. Jolene has a rather heated argument with another member, Cookie Calcone, and not long after that, Jolene turns up dead in a whirlpool. Marla's love interest, homicide detective Dalton Vail, thinks Jolene's death was no accident, and Marla starts poking around, trying to dig up information to help solve the case. Marla's list of suspects includes staff members of the fitness club—the handsome massage therapist Slate Harper and pushy Keith Hamilton—as well as local realtors Sam and Eloise Zelman, local councilman Wallace Ritiker and pharmacist Hank Goodfellow. A second murder and a disappearance muddy the waters, but Marla continues doggedly on, despite a couple of attacks trying to warn her off. Det. Vail does more posturing and smoldering than actual detection, while Marla stews over making a commitment to him. Cohen leavens the narrative with Marla's comments on hairstyles and makeup, and the premise is a promising one, but the mostly one-dimensional characters and strained dialogue dilute the effects. Agent, Linda Hyatt. (Dec. 4)

Forecast:Dazzling jacket art in primary colors will get potential customers to pick this off the shelf.