You can never be too thin, so 120-pound South Florida hairdresser Marla Shore (Hair Raiser, 2000) and her even sleeker best friend Tally Riggs sign up for three-month trial memberships at the Perfect Fit Sports Center in hope of dancercizing off the two or three pounds they gained over Christmas. But before she can get close to a StairMaster, Marla’s summoned to the whirlpool by the receptionist’s screams—to find Jolene Myers, corporate executive at Stockhart Industries, drowned at the bottom. Detective Dalton Vail, angling to get closer to Marla, invites her out for coffee, but instead of giving her the inside scoop on the murder, coaxes her into driving his 13-year-old daughter Brianna to ballet while he spends evenings on the investigation. To make matters worse, Marla’s old friend Arnie, owner of Bagel Busters, convinces her to pretend she’s his fiancée to ward off advances from horrible Hortense Crone, who’s had a crush on him since high school. These social entanglements leave Marla precious little time to interview suspects—like animal rights activist Cookie Calcone, who confronted Jolene over Stockhart’s use of animals for product testing, or Eloise Zelman, who resented her husband Sam’s business meetings with Jolene at the Holiday Inn. So what Marla ends up exercising most is her ingenuity, solving the case without either trashing her relationship with Dalton or making commitments she can’t keep.
An amusing, well-paced mystery—to the extent it can be disentangled from the humdrum romance.