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A Spark of Death: A Professor Bradshaw Mystery [Hardcover]

Bernadette Pajer
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 5 2011 Professor Bradshaw Series

 

 
Can death bring a man back to life? When UW Professor Benjamin Bradshaw discovers a despised colleague dead inside the Faraday Cage of the Electric Machine, his carefully controlled world shatters. The facts don't add up—the police shout murder—and Bradshaw is the lone suspect. To protect his young son and clear his name, he must find the killer.
 
 
Seattle in 1901 is a bustling blend of frontier attitude and cosmopolitan swagger. The Snoqualmie Falls Power Plant lights the city, but to most Seattleites, electricity is new-fangled and dangerous. The public wants a culprit—they want Bradshaw behind bars.
 
 
The killer wants Bradshaw dead.
 
 
His life and liberty threatened, Bradshaw discovers the thrill of investigation as he's thrust deeper into the hunt.Questions abound. How had the Electric Machine's Tesla Coil delivered a fatal shock? Was the murder personal—or connected to President McKinley's planned visit? Were students involved, or in danger? And why had Bradshaw's best friend, Henry, fled to Alaska the day of the murder?
 
 
When Henry's niece Missouri appears on Bradshaw's porch in need of a home, her unorthodox views and femininity confuse and intrigue him as he struggles to protect his own haunting secret. Danger and death lurk everywhere—disguised as accidents. Has Bradshaw come alive again only to lose all he holds dear? Before it's too late, will he discover the circuit path that led to a spark of death?

 



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Review

"In my opinion, Bernadette Pajer knocked this book out of the ballpark...This mystery has the reader engaged and drawn into the twists, turns, and clues to find the murderer. Definitely a must read for the mystery lover." —Suspense Magazine

"Pajer’s series kickoff presents a good mystery, a clever detective and a fascinating look at the early days of electrical power." --Kirkus Reviews

"With plenty of historical details and an eclectic cast of characters, plus a well-constructed plot and terrific pacing, this engaging first novel should be recommended to all fans of historical mysteries, especially the Max Liebermann mysteries by Frank Tallis." --Booklist

"Readers will look forward to seeing more of this quaintly charming and idiosyncratic sleuth." --Publishers Weekly

"A Spark of Death" crackles with mystery, romance, and expert, evocative explanation of electricity at the dawn of the 20th Century in vibrant frontier Seattle. Bernadette Pajer's splendid debut promises dogged Professor Benjamin Bradshaw will be solving crimes in many books to come." --William Dietrich, author of Blood of the Reich
 

 

About the Author

Bernadette Pajer is a Seattle native and graduate of the University of Washington, Bothell. She lives in Monroe, WA with her husband and son. A SPARK OF DEATH is the first book of The Professor Bradshaw Mystery series.
 


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5.0 out of 5 stars A Spark of Death Nov. 10 2011
Format:Paperback
In my opinion, Bernadette Pajer knocked this book out of the ballpark. I picked the book up not knowing what to expect from this debut novel and was instantly drawn in to the story finding myself unable to put the book down which resulted in my reading it in two sittings.
Benjamin Bradshaw Professor of Electric Engineering having experienced a fluctuation in the University's power strong enough to burn the filaments in the overhead lights, rushes to the Electricity Lab where he finds Professor Oglethorpe dead in the Faraday Cage of the newly constructed Electric Machine.
Being an arrogant man, Oglethorpe was not well liked by Bradshaw and the student body alike. Having many disagreements with Oglethorpe in the past, Bradshaw finds himself arrested as the prime suspect in the murder. During an intensive investigation by Professor Bradshaw and Police Detective O'Brien, many interesting characters become involved in the circle of suspects. Thrown into the mix during this turmoil is the niece of Bradshaw's best friend and boarder whom Bradshaw finds himself increasingly drawn to, and in the process brings up painful memories from the past.
With three murders and the attempted murder of Professor Bradshaw at Snoqualmie Falls it becomes a race to find the killer or killers before they strike again. During the ensuing investigation Bradshaw uncovers an assassination plot by the Anarchists to kill President McKinley. It seems the President was due to visit the Electrical Lab at the University of Washington to see the Electric Machine and then onto Snoqualmie Falls Power Plant for a tour. After an exciting chase the suspect is identified and finally brought to justice.
This mystery has the reader engaged and drawn into the twists, turns, and clues to find the murderer.
Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Look forward to more Bradshaw Sept. 29 2011
By Steven R. McEvoy HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This debut novel by Bernadette Pajer, set in Seattle in 1901, was an amazing read. I kept finding myself not wanting to put it down. The cast of characters is as diverse and eclectic as you could want, from our main character Professor Bradshaw, his son Justin, his witty and wise house cleaner Mrs. Prouty to Mr. Henry Pratt, long-time friend of the professors, and his orphaned niece Missouri Fremont. One of the main sets for the story is 1204 Gallagher in Seattle, the home of Professor Bradshaw, the center of his nice orderly universe, and also the core of what he might lose if he is found guilty of murder. So with no choice but to investigate and try to clear his name, the adventure begins.

The story centers around a murder that takes place at the University of Washington. Bradshaw finds himself the chief suspect. But he knows he is not the killer, and the killer is still at large. Soon more bodies appear and an attempt is even made on the professor's life. Seattle in 1901 was a unique city with an equal mix of cosmopolitan and frontier town. The city was bursting at the seams and development and growth evident aplenty.

The story was very well written, the characters strong and the flow of the plot well paced. I could not put the book down and eagerly await the next Bradshaw mystery.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  39 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't Start Right Before Bedtime... July 4 2011
By Tegan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I made the mistake of starting to read this book very close to bedtime. I was quickly drawn into the story, and found myself staying up entirely too late. It was with great difficulty I reluctantly set the book down to sleep, only to take it up again as soon as I could the next day. And so I finished it in two sittings, and could have easily finished it in one if I had started reading earlier in the day. Be forewarned, it's a very engaging read.

The story is set in Seattle (which is what attracted me to it on NetGalley) in 1901. This is a meticulously researched Seattle, with only very minor details different from the real world. I was expecting another Steampunk novel but I got lovely historical fiction with just a touch of mad scientist brilliance. Did I mention that it's well-researched? As a Seattle-area native, I had no problem following the action, even the visit to Snoqualmie Falls, and loved the short history lessons that managed to sneak into the text (like the dynamiting of Seattle Rock at the Falls in 1900 and the great Seattle fire).

The story itself is a non-stop push against time and unknown consequences, as Professor Bradshaw is suspected of a colleague's death and must figure out how the murder happened to clear his own name. Having read a lot of Agatha Christie lately, I cannot say this one equals her best work, but it's certainly as strong as many of her mysteries. I'm sure a true mystery aficionado or an electrical engineer would have figured it out sooner than I did, but that's just quibbling. The action presses forward at a pace that, as I've already said, makes you want to keep reading.

The characters are a tiny bit weak in some areas. There are some standard types in the cast, and only the main character is deeply explored. But the characters serve the story well and by the end I really want to read more about Bradshaw, at the least, even if the people around him aren't quite as compelling. As this is the first novel of the author, and the first in a series to boot, I think I can forgive those issues in anticipation of seeing this writer grow and develop.

I'd recommend this book to mystery fans, historical fiction fans, and electrical engineers. It's a safe book for almost all ages, except for the murder bits, but I'd think only teens and older would get enough of the historical references to really appreciate the book. This is a good read, and I enjoyed it a lot.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart, Powerful, and Engaging June 29 2011
By Tina W - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Finding a captivating new mystery series is such a thrill -- which is why I was so delighted to discover A Spark of Death. Set in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Seattle, this book features an appealing protagonist, Dr. Benjamin Bradshaw, an engineering professor accused of murdering his pompous colleague in a electrified metal contraption (think Dr. Frankenstein's lab crossed with a birdcage).

This book was satisfying on so many levels. The mystery was impeccably structured, the setting expertly rendered, and the story irresistibly involving (the science was cool too, and explained very well). It's the main character who had me hooked, however -- I enjoyed every minute I spent with Professor Bradshaw. He's smart, gently funny, and achingly likable, a man of reason dealing with a tragic emotional past. I enjoyed watching him come into his sleuthiness, finding a spark of life from an unforeseen tragedy as he applied logic, science, and an empathetic decency in his search for a killer. An excellent beginning to what is sure to be a top-notch series.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Look forward to more Bradshaw Sept. 29 2011
By Steven R. McEvoy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This debut novel by Bernadette Pajer, set in Seattle in 1901, was an amazing read. I kept finding myself not wanting to put it down. The cast of characters is as diverse and eclectic as you could want, from our main character Professor Bradshaw, his son Justin, his witty and wise house cleaner Mrs. Prouty to Mr. Henry Pratt, long-time friend of the professors, and his orphaned niece Missouri Fremont. One of the main sets for the story is 1204 Gallagher in Seattle, the home of Professor Bradshaw, the center of his nice orderly universe, and also the core of what he might lose if he is found guilty of murder. So with no choice but to investigate and try to clear his name, the adventure begins.

The story centers around a murder that takes place at the University of Washington. Bradshaw finds himself the chief suspect. But he knows he is not the killer, and the killer is still at large. Soon more bodies appear and an attempt is even made on the professor's life. Seattle in 1901 was a unique city with an equal mix of cosmopolitan and frontier town. The city was bursting at the seams and development and growth evident aplenty.

The story was very well written, the characters strong and the flow of the plot well paced. I could not put the book down and eagerly await the next Bradshaw mystery.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Book! Dec 5 2012
By Reader from Oz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A Spark of Death was a wonderful escape into a bygone era! Great story, interesting characters! Looking forward to more from this author!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking forward to more from this author Nov. 18 2012
By E. Kirby - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I kept telling myself to stop reading & go do something else -- until I was almost at the end, at which point I just gave up and kept reading until it was done. I was impressed not only with the mystery itself, but with how she brought her hero to life, both in how she showed him and in how she showed him growing through the story.

I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series (Fatal Induction) and new ones as they are published.
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