Hairstylist and salon owner Marla Shore knows it's going to be one of those days when Bertha Kravitz, the appointment she'd accommodatingly squeezed in first thing in the morning, drinks the coffee she also demands from Marla and drops dead. Someone, not content to allow the chemical preservatives do their own damage, slipped aconite and cyanide into Bertha Kravitz's artificial creamer. Mrs. Kravitz's non-dairy death sets Marla on the track of a killer the cops think is her. And why not? Marla not only had the best opportunity to poison her client, she also has a good motive, a pair of secrets from her past that she's anxious to keep from the police. So in self-defense she investigates the crime in between dates with several nice men, including the Jewish proprietor of a bagel shop and a fairly well-adjusted computer nerd. Of course, she's most titillated by Dalton Vail, the handsome detective who's himself torn between attraction and suspicion. Alone and together with Vail, she interrogates the exotic Florida fauna (members of the local porn trade and a santero priest), along with the more mundane: the staff at her salon, Mrs. Kravitz's unlovely relatives, and her best friend's husband. Careless writing, romance novel dialogue, and a plot with more tangles than an uncombed perm: a less-than-compelling debut.