Saturday, December 18, 2010

Symptoms of Death by Paula Paul

Edward Boswick, Fifth Earl of Dunsford, hosted a small gathering of friends at his country estate, including the village's lady-doctor, Alexandra Gladstone. The noblest of the nobel, each of his intimates was in possession of title, land--and a secret vendetta against his host. And so,when their "dear Eddie" is found murdered in his own bed, the lords and ladies point to a helpless servant--and flee.

But when Dr. Gladstone finds evidence suggesting otherwise in her autopshy of the late earl, her inquires lead her into a web of scandal and deceit.

December is always a busy month and there's nothing better than a light, entertaining historical read to pass the time. The abundance of mysteries of the cosy variety that has appeared recently have made that one of my favourite genres for when I want to be entertained but not think too much. This time my choice was the first in the Dra Alexandra Gladstone Mysteries by Paula Paul.

The book is set, I believe, in Victorian England during a house party at the Earl of Dunsford's country estate. Dra Alexandra Gladstone is called upon to attend to a young maid who has apparently tried to murder the Earl believing him to be the killer of her lover. Alexandra tends to the girl and makes her go to her room believing her to be harmless but the next morning the Earl is dead and the girl, Elsie, has disappeared.

Alexandra is somewhat of a rarity, a female doctor when females weren't allowed to study medicine. Paul explains that by having her been taught at home by her father and well accepted in the village because everyone knows since she was a girl. To tell the truth Alexandra sounds a bit too sensible to be true in a Victorian heroine but I could deal with that.

Earl Dunsford's guests don't waste time in blaming the doctor for not having drugged the girl, and stopped her from murder, but Alexandra quickly realises that the earl was not stabbed, as the girl was threatening, but strangled which would imply someone stronger. With the help of Mr. Forsythe, one of the Earl's guests, Alexandra decides to try to find out what really happened. Soon it is apparent that the earl wasn't exactly a nice person and that more than one of his guests could have a motive for murder.

The appearance of several "ghosts", and walks in the foggy night, does give the story a bit of a gothic look and I couldn't help thinking that sometimes Alexandra was a bit too daring , almost TSTL. In one of those moments I was so engaged in the story and waiting for something to happen that I immediately deduced who the murderer was... and in the end I was proven right.

So if you are in the mood for something light, fast paced and with a bit of a gothic feel this might just be the book for you!

Grade: 3/5

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