FATAL INDUCTION by Bernadette Pajer, Review

Fatal Induction, A Professor Bradshaw Mystery Synopsis

Fatal Induction by Bernadette Pajer

Seattle, 1901. The race to win an electrical competition incites Professor of Electrical Engineering Benjamin Bradshaw’s obsession for invention in the second entry this exciting historical series. The contest winner’s telephonic system will deliver music from the Seattle Grand Theater to homes throughout the city, and Bradshaw is confident he can win.

The contest is in full swing when President McKinley is assassinated, casting Bradshaw and the entire nation into shock. Then Bradshaw uncovers a crime closer to home: a gypsy peddler’s cart is suddenly abandoned behind his house. What happened to the father and child who lived in this cart? When Bradshaw discovers the peddler’s child may have witnessed a murder, he follows the girl’s trail, plunging into a seedy underworld of bars and brothels.

Frustrated by the police department’s apathy and caught between power struggles, he doesn’t know whom to trust. Each step of his investigation entangles him deeper in crime and corruption until he realizes that to save the child, he must transform his contest entry into a trap to catch a killer and to protect his own household.

Bradshaw’s electrical forensic and investigative skills, combined with a keen understanding of human nature, bring the Seattle police—and murder—to his doorstep during the social and scientific turmoil of the early twentieth century.

Genre: Crime-Detective, Drama, Romance, Historical, Thriller

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Fatal Induction is the second book in author Bernadette Pajer’s Professor Bradshaw Mysteries. My not having read the first book in the series, A Spark of Death, did not hinder my reading experience at all.

Fatal Induction by Bernadette Pajer was a real surprise package – this small and unimposing novel has enormous heart.

The early 1900s Seattle setting, both its vibrancy and tension, is wonderfully conveyed by Pajer. The reader really gets a sense of a people and a country bursting with promise in a world that is quickly changing. There is a beguiling sense of innocence and an expectation that the next big invention is just around the corner.

Warm-hearted characters

With very accessible prose Pajer has crafted some of the most ‘real’, down to earth characters I have come across in fiction in some time. Protagonist Professor Benjamin Bradshaw is such a warm-hearted and likeable character that readers cannot help but barrack for him. Equally charming are those near and dear to him – his curious son Justin, unrequited (?) love Missouri, her adventure-seeking Uncle Henry and stalwart housekeeper Mrs Prouty.

Recalling those days, Bradshaw experienced a welling of joy. For an instant, he was filled with the same enthusiasm he’d felt as a boy, a young man, when the world was his to explore, to invent, to achieve. He stood still for a moment, relishing the feeling, breathing in the scent of his basement, metals and oil and the sweetness of cut grass drifting through the transom window. He was almost afraid to move, lest the moment vanish. He wanted to share the feeling. He wanted to tell Missouri. She would understand. He probably wouldn’t even need to explain. She would look at him and know. If only…


Pajer explains the electrical engineering concepts our intrepid inventor Bradshaw tackles in the novel in interesting and unassuming ways. At no point does the story break into a lecture. This ease of explanation is a testament to the amount of research Pajer has undertaken on the subject matter and time period.

I highly recommend Fatal Induction by Bernadette Pajer to those looking for a feel-good old-fashioned mystery. I eagerly await the release of the next book in the Professor Bradshaw Mystery Series, A Capacity for Murder, in May 2013.

PS: The word-geek in me just loves the titles in this series!

BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing  4.5 / 5  –  Overall 4.25

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About the Author, Bernadette Pajer

Bernadette Pajer is a graduate of the University of Washington and a proud member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Northwest Science Writers, and the Seattle7Writers.org. Research is Pajer’s favourite activity, and she happily delves into Seattle’s past and the early days of electrical invention as she plots Professor Bradshaw’s investigations. Pajer lives in the Seattle area with her husband and son.

– Check out Bernadette Pajer’s Professor Bradshaw Mysteries website where she displays a lovely collection of black and white photographs of the scenes and places depicted in the novel in the early 1900s and links to information about that period.

* My receiving a copy of this book free for review purposes did not influence the opinions expressed in my review.