Shampoo & Condition (A Me Too Mystery) by M.L. Ortega


Date of publication: August 30th, 2022

Genre: Short Story, Mystery

Series: Me Too Mystery

Turn Key Condition—Book 1

Shampoo & Condition—Book 2

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound \

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

First Line:

The pressure exerted on Jane’s head and the fumes inside the metal casing overwhelmed her.

Shampoo and Condition by M.L. Ortega

Cozy mysteries are low on my list of books to read. I don’t know why because I do enjoy reading them. So, when the author emailed me her request, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. I am glad I did because this was a good mystery.

Shampoo & Condition had two main plotlines. The first one centered around Maggie and her investigation into her soon-to-be ex-sister-in-law’s death (at a popular beauty salon). When Maggie starts following leads, she discovers that her sister in law was going to try and bankrupt her husband (Maggie’s brother). But the leads start getting more convoluted when a handsome man, a financial advisor to the school, takes an interest in Maggie.

The other storyline centers around a secretive woman who has just gotten hired at the same beauty salon (where Maggie’s sister-in-law dropped dead). Her backstory: She is on the run from her abusive ex-husband, a police officer. But things aren’t what they seem with this woman. Everything gets thrown up in the air when Jane (Maggie’s best friend) matches this woman with a cold case on a Jane Doe website. Exactly who is the new employee, and what is her connection with Maggie’s sister-in-law? Can Maggie solve her sister-in-law’s death? Or will this case be a wash?

This is book two in the Me Too series. You do not need to read book one to understand what is going on in this book. Also, this book is a quick read at 101 pages.

Shampoo & Condition is a fast-paced mystery that takes place over several days. It is set entirely in Orange County, California.

The main characters, Maggie and Jane, were a hoot to read. They are around my age, and I was able to connect with everything they did or wanted to do.

  • Maggie—I loved how devoted she was to her brother. I also was in awe of her investigation skills. She could decipher clues from things I wouldn’t have thought to look at. Her work solved what happened to Viv (her sister-in-law). And it was also her investigation that exposed what Viv would do to her brother. I questioned when she got involved with the financial advisor working with the school board.
  • Jane—I loved her as much as Maggie. She had a little more skill at investigating than Maggie. Her observation skills were on point, as was her memory. I also liked how she zeroed in on Lilith.
  • Lilith—-I have to admit, I did believe her story. But minor inconsistencies did crop up, and oh boy, when the author revealed everything, I was surprised. Talk about not seeing that coming!!

As with every book that I have read, the secondary characters add extra depth to the book. Shampoo & Condition’s secondary characters were no different. There were a couple I wished had more page time (Viv’s sisters and Dominga are the two that stand out).

Shampoo & Condition fit perfectly with the cozy mystery genre. The author had me guessing who killed Viv and why. She also had me thinking about Maggie’s new friend and who Lilith was. I loved it.

The storyline with Viv, Maggie, Viv’s death, and Maggie’s investigation was well written. As stated above, I was genuinely perplexed about who killed Viv and why. I loved seeing the twists and turns that Maggie’s investigation took.

The storyline with Maggie and the new financial person the school brought in was interesting. But, honestly, I didn’t care for it. I had thought Maggie was with Tuna (her policeman boyfriend) and having a semi-love triangle happening didn’t do it for me.

The storyline with Jane, Lilith, and Lilith’s identity was interesting. I thought that Jane did some fantastic work digging into Lilith’s background. And once it was exposed, I was surprised. I wasn’t expecting the storyline to go in the direction it did.

The end of Shampoo & Condition was interesting and exciting. I loved how the author tied everything together. The author also released a couple of small twists in the plotline at the end of the book. A couple I saw coming, but one (and it concerned Lilith) I didn’t see coming at all.

Three Reasons Why You Should Read Shampoo & Condition:

  1. The book was short—-only 101 pages
  2. Readers can read it as a standalone
  3. The mystery kept me guessing to the end.

Three Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Read Shampoo & Condition

  1. A semi-love triangle is hinted at in the book. I wasn’t a fan of it.
  2. How Lilith took everyone for a ride. I was so mad about that!!
  3. Viv and her sisters’ plot.

I would recommend Shampoo & Condition to anyone over 16. There is mild language, mild violence, and no sex.

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