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Capacity for Murder: A Professor Bradshaw Mystery by Bernadette Pajer (Poisoned Pen Press, $24.95, 256 pages)

Capacity for Murder (nook book)

Be prepared for an enlightening mystery. The Healing Sands Sanitarium is the scene of a gruesome accidental death by electrocution. The time is the summer of 1903 when Professor Benjamin Bradshaw is called to the Pacific coast seaside southwest of Seattle to determine whether Dr. Hornsby, owner of the sanitarium, has committed more than a fatal mistake with his electrotherapeutics. Dr. Hornsby’s cherished son-in-law is the victim which makes this a touchy situation for all concerned.

Professor Bradshaw is an expert in the use of electricity which is in the early stages of adaptation to everyday life. He has successfully aided in local law enforcement investigations regarding several criminally-related electrical matters. The instrument that delivered the fatal jolt is a chair wired to deliver therapeutic doses of electricity.

Ms. Pajer’s charming tale is the third in her Professor Bradshaw mystery series. She wastes no time in setting up the various potential villains and entanglements among them. Her crisp and witty dialogue adds to the entertainment. The period piece is true to the knowledge and science of the early 1900s; however, it’s not the least bit stuffy or stuck in time. The reader is provided with a glimpse at a part of life back then that is usually not known today. The Washington Academy of Sciences founded in 1898 has granted its seal of approval for the accuracy of the scientific content in Capacity for Murder.

The scientific nature of this story bears a strong similarity to the mysteries written by the Jefferson Bass duo and Patricia Cromwell. Fans of their novels would be wise to add Bernadette Pajer to their favorites.

Highly recommended.

Ruta Arellano

A review copy was provided by a publicist.


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Come Together

The Charlestown Connection: A Novel by Tom McDonald (Oceanview Publishing, $25.95, 272 pages)

Tom McDonald’s The Charlestown Connection has a little Umberto Eco in it at times.   In the book, a recovering alcoholic and former college football star (before a career-ending injury), Dermot Sparhawk, goes on a chase to clarify conspicuous circumstances surrounding his grandfather Jeepster Hennessey’s death.

The tale is set in the projects of Boston, where virtually every character, including Jeepster and Dermot, possesses varying degrees of shadiness.   In fact, the resolution at the end, though not technically illegal, walks a fine line of legitimacy.

When the clue, “Oswego” surfaces, it leads Dermot on a circuitous and unlikely journey that eventually brings closure to Jeepster’s eventful life.   In the process, suspected IRA members try to discourage Dermot from continuing on his quest; the FBI becomes involved, though this, too, is not what it seems; former inmates come into play both directly and indirectly; and the world of stolen art takes center stage in resolving the mystery.

The reader is occasionally thrown off course, by design and – as with most books of this genre – the chapters are short and the story moves along well.   The reader is brought into the story easily, though after about two-thirds of the way through, the momentum wanes.   The confluence of circumstances that finally come together and lead Dermot to the answer he seeks requires that the reader suspend belief to a large degree.   But, this is a novel – the type of novel people read to be entertained, and it certainly has its entertaining moments.


Dave Moyer

A review copy was provided by the publisher.   “…so entertaining you may want to read it twice.”   Portland Book Review

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