Bernadette Pajer’s historical fiction is filled with known and obscure historical fiction that make reading her Professor Bradshaw series enjoyable. The famous Thomas Alva Edison makes an appearance early in the book and lends substantial tension to the story as it unfolds. I wonder how many people know that Edison “was a ruthless businessman, intent on furthering his patents and General Electric and beating rivals like Nikola Tesla and Westinghouse.” I have to admit that I did not know this about the man that we revere for bringing us the light bulb.
In this early stage of electricity – 1903 – an electrician is found dead in a Bon Marche Department Store window where he was working with the newfangled strings of Christmas lights invented by Edison. Couple his murder with an invention that has been lost in the Elliott Bay off Seattle, an invention that Edison is determined to have regardless of the shady circumstances, and Professor Bradshaw is back on the job as an amateur sleuth.
Bradshaw is determined to thwart Edison’s efforts to find the deadly lost device, which was created by an anarchist. Edison attempts to use Bradshaw for his own selfish reasons, but he is caught off guard by Bradshaw’s intelligent and illusive actions to obstruct his plans.
The device is at the bottom of the bay and all attempts to find it have been as futile as Bradshaw’s attempts to bring closure to the problems between himself and Missouri, the young woman he loves, a winning subplot. Bradshaw’s trusted partners in solving crime and uncovering mysteries, novice investigator, Henry Pratt, and police Detective O’Brien, are on the job and wondering why Bradshaw doesn’t face his personal problems with Missouri realistically.
A well-constructed mystery loaded with tension—professional and personal—multi-dimensional characters, and excellent pacing.
Review was provided by Mahala Church for her column Barefoot Reviews in the Nov 2014 issue of The Book Breeze.