Length: 101 pgs / N/A mins audio

Overall: 🐢🐢


Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Writing Style:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Character Development:

Rating: 0.5 out of 5.


Rating: 2 out of 5.

‘Morgue shots don’t bother you?’

Shampoo & Condition by M.L. Ortega

The Story:

If Janet Evanovich’s signature character were a single mom, she’d answer to the name Maggie Chessman. In Shampoo & Condition, Vivian, Maggie’s soon to be ex sister-in-law, drops dead in a beauty salon and Maggie’s brother becomes suspect number one – creating friction between our main character and her policeman boyfriend.

What can a girl do but pursue other suspects: Vivian’s shifty sisters, a smooth financial operator, and a secretive shampoo girl.

Meanwhile, Maggie’s best friend is matching corpses with missing persons on the Jane Doe website, eventually spotting a dead person in their midst.

Key Elements:

Mystery, Cozy Mystery, Quick Read, Salon, Sleuthing, Friendship

Why This Rating?

I thought that the mystery of this book was one that had a really good idea behind it. A woman drops dead in the middle of her salon visit?? What could be more catching than that random act with seemingly no evidence? I will give it to the author that the reveal wasn’t something that I was necessarily expecting, which is a good thing for a murder mystery. However, the lead up to the end reveal was harder to get through.

It is a 90 page mystery book that takes you through 4 different POVs (5 if you want to count a very brief moment through Dominga’s POV). That is a ton of people to flip between in such a short story in my opinion. I could tell that Jane and Maggie were the 2 main characters and I think Maggie was suppose to be the lead lady, but it wasn’t till halfway that I really figured that out. I do see why it was important to get the POV from Tuna since he is a cop and a bit important with figuring some things out. But honestly, we could have had only Maggie and Tuna’s POV throughout the entire thing and would have been just fine. The author would just need to flip around a few things that the side characters found out alone and change it to figuring them out with one of those two around. The beginning scene could be entirely from Maggie’s view receiving the text Jane sends and then heading over to the salon, etc.. You get the point. The 4 (5ish) people to keep up with in 90 pages hurt the story’s impact. Plus having to recap each time we encountered another person because they don’t know info that others do was a lot. The recaps were necessary for the characters but not the readers. And having this many POVs, we (as the readers) had to relive these recaps each time.

There were a few things that Tuna did while on shift with the lady’s that would not be a thing regardless of Maggie being his girlfriend(?). For example, when Tuna first shows up on scene and chats with Jane (NOT his boo) for a bit, he asks to see her phone and just tucks it into his pocket. Yes there is more to the scene after that and does end up scrolling through the phone while talking to Jane, but what? This isn’t a normal procedure for officers is it? Then when he goes out in field and finds the victim’s sisters leaving her house. After chatting with them for a bit and finding out that this is not their house, he asks to get the house key from them. AND they GIVE it TO him! Why?? He doesn’t use it. He doesn’t say he turns it in. Just takes it from them and they all move on with their day, albeit the ladies were a bit disgruntled. These 2 actions were just a few that didn’t make any sense coming from an officer.

I did learn a bunch of new words from this book though! I am always wanting to run across new words while reading and this book knocks that out of the park. There were 2 words/definitions I found in this book that I was fascinated with. One is recalcitrance – 1 : obstinately defiant of authority or restraint. 2 a : difficult to manage or operate. Second is sotto voce – in a quiet voice, as if not to be overheard. How fun are those! I know, I just showed some of my nerdiness, but I did so proudly!

This is a book series that I can see turning out to be a good read as it progresses with more books. It is a quick read for any of the murder mystery readers out there. It just receives a lower star rating for me because of the writing style and some of the choices made for the character interactions.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for a voluntary honest review.

Time to get lost in the next story!

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