Thursday, January 28, 2021

Showcase - Death At a County Mansion by Louise R Innes Kensington Publishing

Today I'm showcasing book one in a brand new British mystery series by Louise R Innes, Death At A Country Mansion. 

ISBN-13: 9781496729804
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Release Date: 12-01-2020
Length: 240pp
Daisy Thorne Mystery #1
Buy It: Kensington/Amazon/B&N/IndieBound


No one would ever accuse famous opera star Dame Serena Levanté of lacking a flare for the dramatic. Unfortunately, it’s curtains down on the dysfunctional diva when she’s found dead at the bottom of a staircase in her elegant home. Solving an opera singer’s murder may not be the typical hairdresser’s aria of expertise. But Dame Serena was the mother of Daisy’s best friend Floria, so Daisy must do-or-dye her best to get to the roots of the case.

When a priceless Modigliani painting in the house is reported missing, the mystery gets even more tangled. Even though the gruff but handsome Detective Inspector Paul McGuinness tells the stylist to stay out of his hair, Daisy is determined to make sure the killer faces a stern makeover—behind bars.

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One
The ice in her glass tinkled provocatively as the scotch hit it. Another marriage in tatters. Her fourth, in fact. Serena shook her head and took a big gulp, feeling the whiskey encase her in a golden glow as it went down. Bastard. How could Collin do this to her? With an air hostess, of all people. What the hell was he thinking?
She’d arrived home earlier that afternoon to find her husband packing. The lunch meeting with her solicitor had finished earlier than expected; otherwise she’d never have caught him.
“I’m leaving you, Serena.” He tossed shorts and T-shirts into his suitcase, then fumbled in his dresser for the sunscreen. “I wanted to avoid a confrontation, but you’re here, so you may as well hear it from me. You’re a drunk. You’ve made my life intolerable. I’ve had it with your bitching and sniping, not to mention your blatant attempts to seduce every red-blooded man who walks through the door. Christ, you’re an embarrassment.”
She’d been so stunned; she hadn’t known how to respond. Yes, her drinking had gotten out of hand lately, and she had tried to chat up that handsome, young musician at the summer party, but that was Collin’s fault for ignoring her. What did he expect her to do? He certainly didn’t touch her anymore.
He continued, “I’ve met someone, someone who appreciates me. We’re going to the house in the Bahamas. My solicitor will be in touch.” Collin hauled the heavy suitcase onto the landing. It was the beige one, the same one he’d had on their honeymoon.
Feeling a surge of rage, she’d stumbled after him. “What do you mean you’ve met someone? Who?”
“None of your business.”
“What do you mean it’s none of my business? You’re my husband, for Christ’s sake. Who is she?” She was screeching now, a horrid, high-pitched sound tinged with desperation.
“If you must know, her name is Bernadette, and she’s an air hostess. We met on my last trip to Paris.”
Serena stared at him. This couldn’t be happening. “How dare you walk out on me! And that’s my house in the Bahamas. I bought it and I forbid you to use it as a sordid shag pad.” Her voice rose hysterically, as it often did when she’d been drinking, and she’d had a bottle of sauvignon blanc with lunch.
He turned to face her, his voice unusually calm. Normally, they’d both be screaming at each other by now. “That’s rich, coming from you. And for your information, we put the Nassau house in my name, remember? For tax purposes. It’s mine now.” He smirked and picked up the suitcase to carry it downstairs.
The grand staircase was Serena’s favorite feature in the stately old mansion, and the main reason she’d bought it almost three decades before. It seemed like a lifetime. She adored the glorious mahogany balustrade with spiral spindles that Violeta, the housekeeper, kept polished to a high shine, and the soft lilac carpeting with gold strips. It reminded her of elegant Venetian palaces and old-fashioned grandeur. She’d once performed for a select group of guests, standing at the top of the grand staircase. The rapture on their faces as she sung Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro” had made her heart soar.
Serena floundered after him, coming to an unsteady halt on the landing. “Please, Collin, don’t do this. Let’s talk about it.”
He’d glanced up, but instead of looking at her, his gaze rose to the portrait of the woman she’d once been, which hung above her head. That’s when she knew it was truly over. He couldn’t even look at her anymore. She turned up her face to the painting, grasping the balustrade so as not to lose her balance. It had been commissioned at the height of her fame, and the beautiful, serene expression on her face made her heart twist every time she saw it. She’d been so happy then. Life had been magical. Her records were selling, her concerts were sold out, everyone wanted a piece of her. How had it all gone so wrong?
“I didn’t want it to end like this, you know.” Collin’s face softened momentarily. “But you left me no choice. Living with you has become . . . impossible.”
At that point, she’d fallen to her knees, tears streaming down her face.
“I hope you find some peace, Serena.”
And he walked out of the house, pulling his suitcase behind him.
Serena hung her head and sobbed, great rasping sounds that resonated from the depths of her soul. The hand holding the tumbler drooped, spilling the drink on the Persian rug. She didn’t care. How had her life come to this?
Age was a bitch. Once she’d hit fifty, her voice had gone downhill, no doubt helped along by the booze and the screaming matches with her husband. But without her singing, she was nothing, just an empty shell, and no matter how much she drank or how many lovers she took, she couldn’t fill the void. Her laser-sharp soprano voice, which had once captivated the masses and enthralled royalty, was no more. She’d lost that iridescent quality that allowed her to scale the fearsome heights of the most physically demanding music. She poured another drink, then another. Eventually, the sought-after haze descended and her head lolled back onto the headrest of the chaise longue.
Serena woke with a start in the middle of the night and looked around in a panic. Where was she? Oh, yeah. She was still on the chaise longue, fully clothed.
What was that noise that had woken her? Was it the front door? She listened, holding her breath. The room swam in front of her eyes and her tongue was parched. A wave of nausea hit her and she bent over, fearing she might be sick. God, she’d polished off most of the scotch. That was heavy, even for her. There was a loud creak on the staircase. She recognized it. The loose board before the landing.
Someone was in the house.
She glanced around for a weapon, but all she could find was the empty whiskey bottle on the side table. Grabbing it by the neck, she stumbled toward the door. Her heart pounded as she peered onto the landing.
Relief flooded her body. “Oh, thank God, it’s you. You almost gave me a heart attack.”
She dropped her arm carrying the bottle, just as the intruder raised his.
Serena screamed as she realized what was happening. Then came the hammer blow. Her head exploded in pain and she fell to her knees. The room spun, she was so dizzy.
“Why?” She reached out, trying to grab something, anything to stabilize herself. Her hand folded around the balustrade. The intruder lifted her to her feet, and for a moment she thought it might be okay, but then he bent her over the railing. Her hand tightened its grip as she flopped forward.
“No, please . . . ”
The intruder pried her fingers loose. It wasn’t hard; she had no strength left. Then she felt herself falling. It was a strange sensation, and for a fleeting moment she felt weightless and free. Then the air was knocked out of her and darkness descended. 


“This enjoyable series debut, with its diverse cast of characters and clever amateur sleuth, will appeal to readers of Elizabeth J. Duncan’s 'Penny Brannigan' mysteries.”
—Library Journal

“Multiple suspects, a myriad of motives, and a missing Modigliani add up to murder at the manor. Louise R. Innes is constantly twisting the story just as we, the reader, believe we’ve figured out the murderer. If you enjoy British manor houses, a touch of budding romance, and a good mystery (like I do), I highly recommend Death at a Country Mansion.”
—Vikki Walton, bestselling author of the Backyard Farming Mystery series and the Taylor Texas Mystery series.

“A fun romp through the British countryside, with Daisy Thorne, hairdresser, leading a colorful cast of characters to solve the murder of her dear friend Fiona’s famous mother. Daisy is smart, savvy, and full of spirit. This book has a delightful puzzle with a satisfying ending. Everyone who loves a manor house mystery will love this one.”
—Nancy Coco, author of the Candy-Coated Mystery series

"Death at a Country Mansion has more twists than a French braid."
—Sherry Harris, Agatha-nominated author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mysteries and the Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon mysteries

“The first in a new series featuring Daisy and her pals at the salon, this lively cozy has glamour, intrigue, and romance. There is definitely more than professional collaboration between the delightful Daisy and the attractive DI.”

About the author:
Louise R. Innes writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and cozy mysteries. She lives in leafy Surrey in the United Kingdom with her family, and when she’s not writing, she can be found traipsing through the countryside or kayaking on the River Thames. Visit her on Facebook or Twitter or at