Book Review: Medium Dead by Paula Paul

Medium DeadMedium Dead
An Alexandra Gladstone Mystery
Paula Paul
Alibi, April 2015
ISBN 978-1-101-88321-1

From the publisher—

Sure to delight readers of Jacqueline Winspear, Emma Jameson, and Laura Childs, Medium Dead features Queen Victoria herself—and she’s rumored to have slain a local psychic in Newton-upon-Sea. Now the task of clearing her name and catching the real killer falls to Dr. Alexandra Gladstone.

Under Victoria’s reign, women are barred from calling themselves physicians, but that hasn’t stopped Alexandra Gladstone. As the first female doctor in Newton-upon-Sea, she spends her days tending sick villagers in the practice she inherited from her father, with her loyal and sometimes overprotective dog, Zack, by her side. 

After the corpse of village spiritualist Alvina Elwold is discovered aboveground at a church boneyard, wild rumors circulate through the charming seaside village, including one implicating a certain regal guest lodging nearby. Tales of the dead Alvina hobnobbing with spirits and hexing her enemies are even more outlandish—but as a woman of science and reason, Alexandra has no doubt that a murderer made of flesh and blood is on the loose.
Finding out the truth means sorting through a deluge of ghostly visitors, royal sightings, and shifty suspects. At least her attentive and handsome friend Nicholas Forsyth, Lord Dunsford, has come to her aid. Alexandra will need all the help she can get, because she’s stumbled upon dangerous secrets—while provoking a deadly adversary who wants to keep them buried.

Paula Paul has a well-deserved reputation for writing in a variety of genres and doing it well . On the whole, I think the quality of her work continues with Medium Dead except with the element of mystery. This book makes good historical fiction but not so much a mystery. That’s mostly because the protagonist, Dr. Alexandra Gladstone, doesn’t really do much to solve anything; rather, she just sort of collects information that comes her way.

Lately, I seem to be attracted to stories about women doctors in historical times and, in that sense, this filled the bill quite nicely. I like Alexandra and I appreciate that she’s a smart woman in a man’s world without being aggressive about her desire to be in such a position. I also like the fact that her village accepts her, for the most part, and the usual Victorian sensibilities don’t get in the way too much.

Having a royal be a possible suspect in a murder investigation isn’t a new idea but Ms. Paul puts Queen Victoria in the crosshairs in a believable way. We all know that this particular queen was a big believer in the spiritual world and seances and the like and also that she was totally dedicated to her husband during their marriage and perhaps even more so after his death. That she would contact the victim, spiritualist Alvina Elwold, for help in contacting the Prince Consort is in keeping with her personality as we know it today; why she would be aware of Alvina and come to Newton-upon-Sea to meet with her is a bit less apparent.

When all comes to a head, the denouement is not especially surprising—figuring out who did the deed became fairly obvious early on—but this is still a quite enjoyable if slow-paced read and I think I’ll go back to the first book and get acquainted with Dr. Gladstone from the beginning. I think she’s going to grow on me 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2015.



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About the Author

Paula PaulAward-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.

To learn more about Paula, visit her WEBSITE and GOODREADS.


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