For Dead Men Only
Dr. Alexandra Gladstone, #5
Genre: Historical Mystery
Date of Publication: April 12, 2016
Number of pages: 195
Cover Artist: Valentino Sani/Trevillion Images
Hailed as “an intriguing mixture of mystery, romance, and history” by Lois Duncan, the Alexandra Gladstone series from award-winning author Paula Paul continues as an ominous horseman heralds the emergence of a secret society, hidden riches—and a string of chilling murders.
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.
Before I began writing the Dr. Alexandra Gladstone series I made an attempt to get to know just who she is, as I always do for a protagonist in a novel. It may be that I know more about Alexandra than I ever have any of my characters because she’s been with me for so long.
She was created back in the 90s when an editor contacted my agent and told her he would like for me to write an historical mystery series. My initial thought was to write a series set in the American West because that is where I have lived all my life, and I know it so well. The editor, however, said I couldn’t do that. The reason—he had too many novels set in the American West.
Almost immediately, Alexandra Gladstone, a woman of Victorian England pushed her way to the forefront of my consciousness. It was as if she’d been there all along waiting for me to summon her. She didn’t come to me fully formed. I had to do a bit of research to bring her completely out of the shadows, and, to be honest, she’s still emerging. She and I are still getting to know each other.
She was born in a village of my own creation—Newton-Upon-Sea in Essex. Her mother died when she was a child, and she was raised by a housekeeper and her father, the village physician. Since the village school was for boys only, her father hired the local school master to tutor her during his off hours. She was joined in the class room by Nancy, the housekeeper’s daughter, who later became Alexandra’s maid. Their tutor, Robert Snow, later became the town constable.
Because of her father, Alexandra developed a keen interest in medicine and was accepted by a medical school in London. She was allowed to become a medical doctor, but because she is a woman, she was not allowed to use the title, “physician.” Some of the classes at the medical school were forbidden to her, also because she is a woman. In particular, she was not allowed to attend classes about surgical procedures because it was considered improper for a woman to view a naked body, and especially a naked man. She did, however, learn those procedures from her father. When he died, she took over his practice, although a sizable number of the villagers were not accepting of a female doctor. She is still trying to gain the acceptance of some of them.
As you can see, Alexandra’s career has presented many challenges related to the fact that she was born female. She has faced problems linked to that in all of the books about her, although that has never been the primary focus.
Like everyone else in England’s Victorian society, she is keenly aware of her “place” in society. She is educated middle class and has a career that is considered as much a trade as it is a profession. Her social status complicates her relationship with Nicholas, the Sixth Earl of Dunsford, who, of course, is of the aristocracy. I often get questions from readers about whether or not their relationship is going to blossom into a full-blown romance. We will just have to wait and see if they are able to overcome that social barrier. Nicholas’s mother, Lady Forsythe, is certainly against it.
Alexandra is somewhat too reserved in her manner for her own good. Even I can get frustrated with her at times. It takes Nancy, her maid, to bring her out of it. Nancy is street-wise and cunning and anything but reserved. In a way, she is Alexandra’s alter ego.
Alexandra has a past. In fact, she has a rather surprising past. You’ll get a hint of that in the third book, Half a Mind to Murder. I hope she will reveal more of that interesting incident of her past in forthcoming books.
One of the enigmas in Alexandra’s life is Constable Snow, her former tutor. You’ll see that beginning to develop in the second book, An Improper Death. You’ll learn a little more about it in the new book, For Dead Men Only.
Does she then have a future? She and I both hope so!
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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