Edward Boswick, Earl of Dunsford, is having a little gathering. As the guests assemble, a disheveled, knife-wielding scullery maid runs in, shouting wildly, accusing Eddie of murdering one Georgie. The guests are stunned, immobile, except for Alexandra Gladstone, neighbor and physician. She subdues the girl and gives her a sedative.

Her actions impress another guest, barrister Nicholas Forsythe, who calls on her the very next day. As they become acquainted, word is received that Eddie is dead, stabbed, and the scullery is to blame. Alexandra and Nicholas go to the manor and Alexandra realizes that although the scullery may have stabbed Eddie, he had already been killed by strangulation.

Public opinion wants justice from the hapless servant, but Alexandra realizes that one of the noble guests must be responsible. With Nicholas's help, she is determined to unmask the killer.

SYMPTOMS OF DEATH marks the debut of a new historical series set in Victorian times. Alexandra Gladstone, intelligent but not overbearing, is a sleuth to be watched, as is her relationship with Nicholas Forsythe. (May, 240 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Toby Bromberg