Set against the backdrop of a national tragedy—the assassination of President McKinley—Fatal Induction by Bernadette Pajer follows Professor Benjamin Bradshaw as he scrambles to catch a killer. The year is 1901 and Seattle is a vibrant and up-and-coming city. Bradshaw, a professor of electrical engineering and a passionate inventor, has entered a new invention competition for a device that will carry the sounds of a musical theater production through telephone wires to listeners in the comfort of their own homes.
Bradshaw is unaware that a seemingly trivial domestic concern at home is about to sweep him into the underworld of Seattle. With the needling of his housekeeper, Mrs. Prouty, Bradshaw inspects a peddler’s cart that has been abandoned near his house. “Ralph’s Redeeming Restorative” is emblazoned across the side and upon further investigation, Bradshaw discovers a small and well-loved doll inside the cart that must surely belong to a young girl.
Bradshaw turns to good friend Detective James O’Brien for help in locating the girl and her father. He discovers the missing peddler’s body in his own neighborhood and quickly realizes that the only witness to his murder may be his missing daughter, Emily, which puts her in grave danger.
When Bradshaw finds that solving the murder of a roving peddler is not high on the police department agenda, he must rely on his own skills of deduction to locate Emily. Bradshaw finds himself delving into the seedy underbelly of Seattle, the wicked tenderloin district. Death threats are quick to follow and Bradshaw finds himself embroiled in something much larger and more far-reaching than he ever suspected. Bradshaw has something else to cope with as well—his growing affection for a young woman named Missouri, the niece of his best friend and a woman Bradshaw feels he can never be with.
Pajer’s vivid writing takes readers to this exciting time that is in the crossroads of scientific investigation and innovation, when automobiles and horse drawn carts compete for the same streets, and the United States reels with political unrest and social upheaval. Readers will warm to the curmudgeonly and reserved professor who has a heart of gold and a penchant for investigation. All four books in the series have earned the peer reviewed Washington Academy of Sciences Seal of Approval for scientific accuracy.
Like all important novels, this mystery has wider implications for the larger world than the story is set in. We posit that the Professor Bradshaw series is on its way to being considered a classic in the mystery genre.
“Fatal Induction” by Bernadette Pajer was awarded the Overall Grand Prize for Best Book in the Mystery and Mayhem Awards 2013, a division of Chanticleer Blue Ribbon Writing Competitions.