"I just figured you could take a look at
Angie and figure something out," Stella said.
"You thought that just by gazing at a dead woman in her coffin
I could figure out what happened to her?" Lacey Smithsonian was appalled. Only in the District of Columbia, she thought, could
someone actually believe that some random idiot off the street or, yes, even a fashion reporter, could solve a murder before the cops.
"The cops say it was suicide, Stella. If they're so wrong, why not get a private detective or something?"
"'Cause I got you, Lacey. And you got a nose for nuances. Like you wrote last week: 'Nuances of style are clues to personality.' You
know how you always write that the way people dress reveals who they really are, like it's a key to their personality or something?
Hair, grooming, clothes, it's a language, right, or a code? About how it's good to express yourself, if you know what you're
saying? Like you, Lace. You do that Forties thing with your clothes. It says, you know, 'Rosalind Russell meets Rosie the Riveter:
brains, beauty and no bullshit.' Or something like that. Am I right?"
Lacey couldn't really argue with
her relentless hairstylist's pungent translation of her own fashion philosophy. Stella proudly indicated her own leather
outfit, heavy on zippers. "Take me, Lace. What am I sayin' here?" Lacey hesitated. "Come on, this is an easy one! Jeez. 'Punk
Goddess With a Heart of Gold.' Right?"
On acid, Lacey amended silently. "I'm not psychic, Stella, I don't
know what I--"
"She didn't kill herself, Lacey! Look at her. This look says, 'I wouldn't be caught dead looking
this way.' Maybe you could just tell people that. In your column, where people she knew could read it. It would mean something to them.
To her. If this was suicide, it was assisted. You know what I mean?"
Lacey sighed and studied Angie. The woman
she remembered, with her beautiful hair. The corpse in the coffin, with the worst haircut she'd ever seen. They didn't jibe. Maybe
this was a real crime of fashion, after all.
Stella nodded. "Real big nuances."
[Excerpted and condensed from Killer Hair with the permission of the author.]