By Bernadette Pajer
Professor Benjamin Bradshaw is back in Pajer’s fourth book in her popular mystery series. The Edison Effect is set in Seattle Washington, during the 1903 Christmas Season. Not many of us remember Christmas trees without lights on them. I am of a certain age that used to have big lights on the tree that got so hot you could only leave them on for a short time. Now we can choose LED lights, strings of one color, twinkling, dripping and flashing lights.
In the early 1900’s Edison was just introducing them for the holiday season. Unfortunately, an electrician at one of the most popular department stores in Seattle is found dead with a strand of them in his hands. It is soon apparent that his demise was brought about by touching bare wires while the current was still on. Foul play was suspected so Professor Bradshaw, a respected investigator that helped the local police whenever electricity was involved in a case, was called in to help.
It appears that the corpse has more in common with Edison than dying by his new invention. It appears that both of them are hunting for the invention that was tossed overboard in Pajer’s first novel in the series, A Spark of Death. The search for this box has consumed many in the area, some of whom are willing to lie, cheat, steal and possibly kill to see what it holds. Certainly Edison would not stoop so low, but he really comes across as a ruthless business man, with an aggressive lawyer who is willing to sue anyone at the drop of a hat.
Bradshaw quickly finds out the dead man has more enemies than friends. It seems almost everyone close to the case could be the killer. The complexity of the case has Bradshaw going to great lengths, pushing himself past his comfort level in order to track down the truth.
While all of this is going on, Professor Bradshaw’s in the middle of a moral dilemma. Missouri, the woman he loves, is studying homeopathic medicine, is younger than him and does not agree with the doctrine of the Catholic Church. He loves her with all his heart and his young son adores her. But how can he marry a woman with beliefs so vastly different from his?
The Edison Effect is deceptively complex. It has many layers and plot lines that intersect, wrap around each other and end up perfectly tied to each other in the end. Much like the other books in this series, history, science and everyday life in the early 1900’s is beautifully added to the novel. I love books that teach me something while I am enjoying a fictional novel. Once again, Pajer’s novel has been “reviewed and approved for science” by the Washington Academy of Sciences. This is a really fun way to learn more about the science of things we take for granted in our lives today.
I would really recommend reading the first three books in this series. I have only read the third and fourth books starting with Capacity for Murder (read my review here: https://lauramhartman.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/book-review-capacity-for-murder-by-bernadette-pajer/ ) before reading this book. The Edison Effect as well as Capacity for Murder work perfectly well as a stand-alone novels, but book four relies heavily on the story line from the first book of the series, A Spark of Death. My suggestion would be reading them in order. You don’t want to know who the killer is in book one, and you will if you read The Edison Effect first.
Copyright © 2015 Laura Hartman
DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.