The year is 1900, and, in South Bend, Indiana, pretty young Swedish domestic Hilda Johansson works at the Tippecanoe mansion of the Clem Studebaker family. Next door live retired lawyer Judge Harper, his sour-faced wife, and their overindulged attorney son James. Two married daughters also live nearby. Judge Harper’s sister Mary is expected home any day from her missionary work in China, where the Boxer Rebellion is making her work dangerous. But not as dangerous, it seems, as life in South Bend, where it’s Hilda’s fate to discover Mary Harper’s strangled body while strolling in the park with her policeman boyfriend Patrick. Unimpressed by the efforts of the local police and haunted by nightmares, Hilda, with help from housemaid Norah, begins to investigate on her own, evading the eagle eye of Williams the butler. The drowning death of the Harpers’s Polish maid Wanda, a few days later, adds urgency to Hilda’s task. The police seem to regard Mr. Kee Long, a visitor from China, as their chief suspect, in the face of a solid alibi. Hilda comes to his rescue, eventually uncovering the murder motive and the close- to-home killer. This maiden outing for straight-arrow, gutsy, and highly likable Hilda is sure to please fans of the author’s Dorothy Martin series (Malice in Miniature, 1998, etc.).