A Spark of Death

Written by Bernadette Pajer
Review by Bruce Macbain

Pajer’s debut novel, the first in a proposed series, introduces us to an unlikely sleuth. Benjamin Bradshaw is a professor of electrical engineering in turn-of-the-century Seattle – a time when electricity was still an exciting, and potentially lethal, novelty. Bradshaw’s colleague, an insufferably arrogant pedant, is found electrocuted inside the Faraday Cage of an Electrical Machine, and the police think Bradshaw did it. The professor must find the real killer (a disgruntled student? a neglected wife? an anarchist?) while coping with the pain of his wife’s recent suicide and opening his heart to a possible new love interest in the person of Missouri, a charming young lady who appears on his porch one day. The setting is nicely evoked, the electrical theory seems to make sense (though I’m no expert), and Bradshaw emerges as a sympathetic, if rather stiff, protagonist. I look forward to his further adventures.