I am so happy to introduce you to my new friend from across the pond Louise R. Innes. I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of Death at a Country Mansion the first book in the new Daisy Thorne mystery series! Daisy is a hairdresser in a small English village and I want to move there and hang out with her! Happy book birthday, Louise!
Louise: Cozies are my favourite crime genre. There’s something so satisfying about a small village, a set of mysterious characters, multiple motives and an amateur sleuth who manages to tie all the pieces together to solve the murder.
I grew up in Cape Town, in South Africa, to an English mother. She fell in love with my father while he was studying in London and followed him back to South Africa. In those days, most people spoke a mixture of English and Afrikaans, and the television was predominantly Afrikaans.
Without her own culture and language, my mother befriended two English guys who ran a video store (back in the days of VHS). They had this magical stock of English murder mysteries: Midsommer Murders, Inspector Morse, Miss Marple, Law and Order, The Professionals, The Sweeny (to name but a few).
These were her lifeline, and so I grew up watching these great classics and they framed my viewing experience from a very young age.
As I grew up, I never lost the familiar comfort of curling up with a good cozy, whether television or in book form. I read all the Agatha Christies, marvelling at her ingenuity. They were twins! It was the other sister! Mistaken identity! An imposter! I loved unravelling the twists and trying to find out whodunnit.
So, when I began penning my own stories, naturally, I turned to this genre.
I now live in an English village not unlike the one I feature in my books. The Thames flows through it, there’s rolling countryside behind it, and we have basically two streets of shops with local cafes, hairdressers, a print shop and the village library and medical centre. The church bells chime every hour, and the village green is alive with dog walkers.
In a village such as this, it’s easy to come up with a unique set of characters, a mystery and a murderer. I often think – as I sip my camomile tea outside my favourite coffee shop – that the Christmas tree in the village square would make a great scene for a murder, or the woman who rushes into the library to return overdue books must have a suspicious reason for doing so, and why is the manager of the hardware store in such a bad mood today? And why does he have a weird brown stain on his jumper? Ideas and inspiration everywhere.
My cozies are set in the fictional village of Edgemead in Surrey, England. My sleuth, Daisy Thorne is a hairdresser who is studying criminology via correspondence and has an avid interest in the criminal mind. Also, because she owns the only hair salon in town, everybody goes into it at some point or other.
This means Daisy can tap into all the village gossip, a tool that becomes indispensable to the gruff but handsome detective Paul McGuinness, whose job it is to solve these crimes. Their relationship is rocky at first, but DCI McGuinness soon comes to rely and respect Daisy’s insights and they form a good working relationship – but do their feelings run deeper than that?
When famous opera diva, Dame Serena is murdered in her country mansion, her estranged daughter asks Daisy to investigate. There are plenty of suspects, Serena’s four ex-husbands for starters, her troop of illegitimate grown-up daughters and various other colourful characters. Alibis don’t stack up and everyone seems to have a motive – Dame Serena wasn’t very well liked in her latter years. It’s up to Daisy, with the help of her gay senior stylist, ex-model colour expert and junior hair washer to sift through the clues and untangle the truth.
Here’s the official blurb:
Welcome to Daisy Thorne’s Ooh La La hair salon in the charming village of Edgemead in Surrey, England, where you’ll find the latest styles, the juiciest gossip — and the most tantalizing murder clues . . .
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.
Readers: Have you ever been to a English village or do you have a favorite one in a book?
“A promising debut with scads of interesting characters, a spirited heroine, and a hint of romance.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Death at a Country Mansion has more twists than a French braid.”—Sherry Harris
“Enjoyable…will appeal to readers of Elizabeth J. Duncan’s ‘Penny Brannigan’ mysteries.”
“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
“A little romance, a little art history, and a gorgeous mansion . . . a page-turner that is fun and intriguing.”—ACF Bookens
Universal link: http://books2read.com/u/mVK2Yl