Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Dead Men Only by Paula Paul - #review

The Temple of the Ninth Daughter sits on a hill at the edge of Newton-upon-Sea, an aura of mystery lingering over its tall, gray silhouette. Villagers whisper about the treasure housed inside, protected by local Freemasons who are bound by clandestine oaths.

Dr. Alexandra Gladstone has no time for such nonsense. Between the patients in her surgery and the rounds she makes with her faithful dog, Zack, her days are busy enough. But Alexandra has no logical explanation when the Freemasons start dying, one by one, with no sign of foul play other than smears of blood on their Masonic aprons. And what to make of reports that a Knight Templar rides through the village before each passing?

After the constable disappears in the midst of the crisis, Alexandra reaches out to her dashing, diligent friend, Nicholas Forsythe, Lord Dunsford, for assistance. Is someone after the treasure, or might a more sinister game be afoot? In order to solve this puzzle, Alexandra must somehow catch a killer who shows no remorse—and leaves no witnesses.



I used to be in a group called "Job's Daughters".  It was an organization for girls and young women, aged 11-20, who had a Mason in their bloodline.  The Masonic Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah seemed quite impressive to me then.  But I don't think it had a name like the Temple of the Ninth Daughter.

Dr. Alexandra Gladstone, daughter of the town's former physician (who had passed on) and a doctor in her own right, had her hands full taking care of the people of the town.  Half the problem was convincing them that she was indeed a physician, even though she was 'just a woman'.  She also did extensive in-home visits, checking on the older population, new mothers, and the like.

There's a fair amount of 'paranormal' activity in and around the town.  A mysterious knight rides through town, and one of the Masons dies, with no marks that might point to a cause of death.  It happens once.  Unusual, yes.  There is a second mysterious death.  OK.  Something is not right here.  By the time the third unusual death rolls around, the town is on edge.

Alexandra would like to autopsy the corpses, but she is not allowed - because she is a woman.  I mean, she would fall apart if she saw a man's private parts, wouldn' she?  (Please note the big glob of sarcasm that dropped off that last statement.)   Well, she arranges, with the help of her posse, to actually do an autopsy.  But the town is on to the shenanigans.  An angry mob approaches the building and who knows what would have happened had the local lord of the manor not intervened.

I am a huge fan of strong women characters in novels.  And Dr. Alexandra Gladstone, MD, is very worthy of that title.  She has a thriving medical practice in a time period where the vast majority of women did not work outside the home.  She genuinely cared about her patients - going to them when they could not come to her.  She and her "#1" (assistant, Nancy) found two boys alone on the docks, probably heading for a life petty thievery, gave them a job and a place to stay.

Now, some people may not agree with me, and that is ok, but I cannot help but draw parallels between Alexandra and Nancy on the one hand, and Holmes and Watson on the other.  The first of each pair of associates was the 'bright light', willing to take chances, and somewhat impulsive.  Nancy and Watson were steadying forces in the lives of their counterparts.  While they might not have gotten figurative (or literal) 'headlines', neither Alexandra nor Sherlock would have either, if not grounded to their friends.

This is a wonderful historical mystery novel.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading Dead Men Only.  Ms. Paul is quite a prolific author.  She has other books out besides the Alexandra Gladstone Mysteries (of which there are 5 total ... so far).  I can't wait to read the others!



Award-winning novelist Paula Paul was born on her grandparents’ cotton farm near Shallowater, Texas, and graduated from a country high school near Maple, Texas. She earned a BA in journalism and has worked as a reporter for newspapers in both Texas and New Mexico. She’s been the recipient of state and national awards for her work as a journalist as well as a novelist. Her previous novels featuring Dr. Alexandra Gladstone, including Symptoms of Death, have appeared on bookstore and online bestseller lists. She is also the author of the Mystery by Design series, which she wrote as Paula Carter. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


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(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.)

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