Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fatal Induction-Bernadette Pajer

Fatal Induction

Bernadette Pajer

Poisoned Pen, May 1 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 978-1590586129

In 1901 University of Washington Electrical Engineering Professor Benjamin Bradshaw believes he is a sure shot to win the competition to create a telephonic system that will transmit music from the Seattle Grand Theater to homes throughout Seattle. Bradshaw finds Ralph’s abandoned wagon behind his house. He ponders where the peddler of miracle elixirs (and maybe deadly poisons) and his daughter went, but his musings are interrupted with news that President McKinley was assassinated.

The police show no interest in a missing child or a potential homicide case. So curious and unable to accept the national tragedy as real, Bradshaw tracks the trail left behind by the girl who the professor thinks may have witnessed a killing. As he enters the Tenderloin section, Seattle’s seediest side, he concludes to save the child’s life, he must do something drastic. Thus Bradshaw modifies his contest entry to catch a murderous predator.

The second Professor Bradshaw historical amateur sleuth (see A Spark of death) is a superb whodunit in which Bernadette Pajer uses the assassination of the president to anchor her storyline in 1901. Part of the fun is observing communication technological breakthroughs and the hero conjecturing what will come over the next century or so. The mystery is strong, but that supports a powerful poignant period piece as Ms. Pajer escorts her audience to Seattle circa 1901.

Harriet Klausner

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