An engaging first foray in a new genre for Hardwick, well known for period novels including Upstairs, Downstairs. The coming of taciturn, forbidding Leonard Mumbray, an Erich von Stroheim look-alike, to the peaceful English village of Abbotsbourne seems to cast an evil spell in many directions. Pretty antique-store proprietor Doran Fairweather feels it, as does local vicar Rodney Chelmarsh, a widower whose jealous crippled daughter Helena is souring a budding romance with Doran. Others in the village are even more disquieted--Colonel Haydon-Tree abruptly moves out of town; do-gooding Marcia Fawkes turns to drink; cheerful Dr. Levison is in a state of depression; there's also a seemingly motiveless teen-age suicide, and the venerable cricket grounds are suddenly sold for housing. So when Mumbray is found murdered, there's a collective sigh of relief, but Doran, a nosy type, won't rest until she finds his poisoner. She does--the hard way. Quirky, erudite, filled with lively characters, solid plotting, wry humor and suspense, Malice Domestic is a handsome debut. One hopes to hear more from Abbotsbourne.