Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Spark of Death” as Want to Read:
A Spark of Death
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Spark of Death (Professor Bradshaw Mysteries #1)

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  296 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews
Can death bring a man back to life? When UW Professor Benjamin Bradshaw discovers a despised colleague dead inside the Faraday Cage of the Electric Machine, his carefully controlled world shatters. The facts don't add up - the police shout murder- and Bradshaw is the lone suspect. To protect his young son and clear his name, he must find the killer.

Seattle in 1901 is a bus
Hardcover, 250 pages
Published July 5th 2011 by Poisoned Pen Press
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Spark of Death, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Spark of Death

I, Claudius by Robert GravesWolf Hall by Hilary MantelKatherine by Anya SetonThe Three Musketeers by Alexandre DumasThe Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman
196th out of 321 books — 68 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 636)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Apr 10, 2013 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
I usually read mysteries of the cozy, screwball, or police procedural variety by authors like Joanne Fluke, Janet Evanovich, amd Tess Gerritsen. I thought historical fiction would ruin a mystery by including too many details, forgotten social customs, and colloquial language that would semd me to the dictionary every five minutes.

I was wrong! Bernadette Pajer brings turn of the century Seattle to life in "A Spark of Death." She offets enough detail tp color her world, yet lets you see that her
Jul 08, 2011 Susan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mysteries, 2011
An easy to read story, 'crackling' good mystery, likeable characters and academic setting. What isn't there to like about this book? We have the early days of electricity with discoveries by Edison and Tesla and also people's suspicions about using this new energy source in their homes, but which plays a role in this mystery. We also have a cast of characters that are brought very much to life by the author in such a way that they seem very real. And we also have the interesting storyline that m ...more
Oct 23, 2014 Shawn rated it really liked it
Local fiction. Love it.
On one hand, I liked A Spark of Death. I liked that it takes place in early 20th century Seattle, and that a (fictional) University of Washington professor is the protagonist. This is a time period in Seattle and University of Washington history that I find to be very interesting, and I feel like Bernadette Pajer captured that time very well. I also liked that Pajer is a UW graduate, and I congratulate her on her accomplishment of seeing this book published.

On the other hand, I wasn't that inves
Cathy Cole
Apr 28, 2012 Cathy Cole rated it really liked it
First Line: A curtain of pale hair hid the young man's downturned face.

When A Spark of Death begins, Professor Benjamin Bradshaw of the University of Washington is allowing a struggling student extra time to finish an exam. When the power goes out later, this electrical engineer rushes to find the cause and discovers the body of Professor Oglethorpe inside the Faraday Cage of the Electric Machine.

Shortly thereafter, Bradshaw's carefully structured and controlled life shatters. It's a well known
Mar 28, 2015 Jakalak rated it it was amazing
A well-conceived, well-executed historical mystery novel. I was impressed by how well the narrative wove in some elements of electrical engineering. You would think metaphors involving circuits and resistors would seem contrived, but Bernadette Pajer totally pulls it off. I particularly like how much Professor Bradshaw seems like a professor of electrical engineering. He's analytical without coming off as robotic, and he's didactic without being completely insufferable. I don't normally seek out ...more
Mary Ronan Drew
Feb 25, 2012 Mary Ronan Drew rated it really liked it
This first of the Professor Bradshaw mysteries is about exploring the uses of electricity, which was fairly new phenomenon in 1901. When a much disliked University of Washington professor is found dead in a Farady Cage in the school's lab the police come looking for his colleague, Professor Bradshaw. Set in turn of the last century Seattle and at the Snoqualmie Falls, the book is interesting as well as entertaining with a clever plot that had me baffled until the very end. A second book in the s ...more
Dec 29, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it
Thanks to the Pacific NW Writers Association (pnwa dot org), I recently discovered books by BERNADETTE PAJER. Her protagonist in the historical/scientific mysteries set in Seattle around the turn of the 19th and 20th Centuries is Professor Benjamin Bradshaw. Bradshaw is a professor of electrical engineering at the fledgling Department of Engineering at the University of Washington. The first book in the multibook series is A SPARK OF DEATH (ISBN 978-1590589076, trade paperback, $14.95).

The first
Suzie Quint
Jun 03, 2012 Suzie Quint rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cozy mystery readers
I'm not a huge mystery fan, but this sweet little cozy was particularly interesting to me because it's set in Seattle (though way back at the turn of the twentieth century.) It really is more suited however to the friend I recommended it to whose husband is an electrical engineer because the mystery revolved around a murder by electrocution. If you like cozies, I recommend it highly.
Mar 30, 2014 Claudia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Spark of Electricity Ignites Interest in New Mystery Series!

Well researched historical setting in 1901 Seattle, Washington. Add a mysterious death at the University and a spark ignites a professor's curiosity, as he finds his passion for solving crimes. Students experiment with the fairly new invention of the Tesla Coil, in combination with the Faraday Cage, during their studies. Elementary physics, regarding discoveries with electricity transformation is well explained to the lay person. The
Jul 12, 2014 Debbie rated it really liked it
This is the first in the Professor Benjamin Bradshaw mysteries set in early 20th century Seattle. “When U(niversity of) W(ashington) Professor Bradshaw discovers a despised colleague dead inside the Faraday Cage of the Electric Machine, the police shout murder–and Bradshaw is the lone suspect. To protect his young son and clear his name, he must find the killer.”

I confess that I didn’t understand the electricity issues and, even though the mystery was fairly clued but not obvious, and Bradshaw h
It was a better read then I first thought. Will read more if my public library has them.
Dec 01, 2014 Alice rated it really liked it
This is a well-written book with a number of elements woven together. The murder mystery was of subordinate importance (at least to me), compared to the unfolding story of the unofficial sleuth, Prof Bradshaw. It is a testament to the author's skill that I waded through all the stuff about electricity, which interests me not one bit. The setting of Seattle at the turn of the 20th century made a very engaging background for the story. I am reading number 2 -- further testimony to the draw of this ...more
Jan 28, 2015 Asarum rated it really liked it
Fun mystery set in late 19th century Seattle.
C.C. Thomas
Jul 05, 2011 C.C. Thomas rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
What a great addition Professor Bradshaw is to the literary world!

I sometimes hesitate when reading historical mysteries because I find they are often too steeped in history to really have any thrill, but that isn't the case with this book. A Spark of Death sparkles with excitement from the first chapter and doesn't let the reader go until the very last word.

Bradshaw is a young professor at a university in Seatlle when an electrifying murder happens on campus and he is accused of the crime! In t
Tina Whittle
Jun 24, 2011 Tina Whittle rated it it was amazing
Finding a captivating new mystery series is such a thrill — which is why I was so delighted to make the acquaintance of A Spark of Death: A Professor Bradshaw Mystery, the first novel in the Professor Bradshaw series by Bernadette Pajer. Set in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Seattle, it features an appealing protagonist, Dr. Benjamin Bradshaw, an engineering professor accused of murdering his pompous colleague in a electrified metal contraption (think Dr. Frankenstein’s lab crossed with a birdcag ...more
Richard Alan
Feb 14, 2012 Richard Alan rated it really liked it
A Spark of Death was an entertaining read. Set in 1901 Seattle, the descriptions of the town seemed very real based on living here now. I frequent the Snoqualmie Falls and enjoyed learning more about the development of the power plant. The murder mystery did an excellent job of tying in the history of the time; President McKinley's proposed visit to the power plant, the Faraday cage, and the electricity debate between Edison (DC current) and Tesla (AC). The concepts of electricity, integral to t ...more
Nov 18, 2014 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining and winsome debut mystery novel centered around the early days of electricity, which was itself considered a mystery at the time. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The historical and geographical setting of Seattle at the turn of the previous century was well crafted. It was obvious that everything was well researched, without the reader being hit over the head with it. The mystery was nicely plotted and characters clearly defined. I didn't figure out whodunnit until it was revealed.

While the
Dec 31, 2011 Jodi rated it it was amazing
In my opinion, Bernadette Pajer knocked this book out of the ballpark. I picked the book up not knowing what to expect from this debut novel and was instantly drawn in to the story finding myself unable to put the book down which resulted in my reading it in two sittings.
Benjamin Bradshaw Professor of Electric Engineering having experienced a fluctuation in the University’s power strong enough to burn the filaments in the overhead lights, rushes to the Electricity Lab where he finds Professor Og
Oct 14, 2012 Bev rated it really liked it

Set in the Seattle of 1901, A Spark of Death by Bernadette Pajer, feeds two of my mystery habits--historical and academic. And I must say thank you to Steve, aka The Puzzle Doctor, over at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel for bringing this one to my attention. He has been adding to my TBR pile on a regular basis since I started following his blog. If you like mysteries and don't already know Steve then you should definitely head on over to his site. You won't be disappointed!

The novel take
Steven R. McEvoy
May 03, 2012 Steven R. McEvoy rated it it was amazing
This debut novel by Bernadette Pajer, set in Seattle in 1901, was an amazing read. I kept finding myself not wanting to put it down. The cast of characters is as diverse and eclectic as you could want, from our main character Professor Bradshaw, his son Justin, his witty and wise house cleaner Mrs. Prouty to Mr. Henry Pratt, long-time friend of the professors, and his orphaned niece Missouri Fremont. One of the main sets for the story is 1204 Gallagher in Seattle, the home of Professor Bradshaw, ...more
What a fabulous new series to start and place on my reading list! Professor Bradshaw is my new idol of early 1900's mystery and science-forensic suspense. I couldn't get enough of him.

"A Spark of Death" is an exciting new series that covers an era in American history of inventors, modern thinkers, science and the awareness of women's contributions to science and society outside of the drawing room and nursery. It's a series I expect to follow as an avid fan.

Bernadette Pajer is a writer of depth
Jul 30, 2014 Beverly rated it it was ok
Can death bring a man back to life? When UW Professor Benjamin Bradshaw discovers a colleague dead inside the Faraday Cage of the Electric Machine, his controlled world shatters. The facts don’t add up, the police shout murder, and Bradshaw is the lone suspect. To protect his son and clear his name, he must find the killer. Seattle in 1901 is a bustling blend of frontier attitude and cosmopolitan swagger. OK book, but not too interesting.
Bruce Macbain
Mar 10, 2013 Bruce Macbain rated it liked it
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 ...more
Mar 14, 2013 Melissa rated it really liked it
This book is set in 1901 Seattle, so already I like it for that reason. As a whodunit, it also kept me guessing, although I wasn't surprised by the "who" in the end. The characters in the book are easily imagined and the descriptions throughout the book are wonderful. Professor Bradshaw is someone you like to root for, and there are hints at future story lines. I'm a footnotes person, so it comes as no surprise that the Author's Note was among my favorite parts of the book. There's a small detai ...more
A.C. Birdsong
Nov 29, 2013 A.C. Birdsong rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery, historical
It was well written. I agree with some of the other reviewers here that the characters could have been more developed. The story was a bit choppy. And even though it hints on it on the back cover, I didn't find out until page 11 that the setting was in the late 1890's. Maybe I'm a little slow there, but because we're talking about a university here, where there could be things in use that are a century old, it would have been better if the book had identified itself as historical more plainly an ...more
Stephanie Jewett
Benjamin Bradshaw is a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington in 1901. He lives a very quiet, orderly life with his son and housekeeper while dealing with an overbearing colleague at work. When that colleague is found dead in a basement electrical lab, suspicion falls on him, so he sets to work doing his own investigation to clear his name. Toss in the intriguing niece of his friend suddenly showing up on his doorstep and attempts on his own life, and we have a great ...more
Hanalei1208 Be
Seattle in 1901 is a bustling blend of frontier attitude and cosmopolitan swagger. The Snoqualmie Falls Power Plant lights the city, but to most Seattleites, electricity is new-fangled and dangerous. When University of Washington Professor Benjamin Bradshaw discovers a despised colleague dead inside the Faraday Cage of the Electric Machine, his carefully controlled world shatters. The facts don't add up. The police shout murder--and Bradshaw is the lone suspect. To protect his young son and clea ...more
May 03, 2012 Michael rated it liked it
Entertaining and a good read. It hits two areas that I like. The protagonist, his life and environment are concisely described in the very beginning of the book. You know who you're reading about and where they are from the start. I also like the use of emerging technology from the turn of the last century. It's something I'd like to write about myself.

Some of the pacing is abrupt and motivations are glossed over but it works nevertheless. There are some missteps in the use of historical referen
Aug 08, 2013 J.L. rated it really liked it
This was a fun read. It's a good mystery to begin with, but what makes it a fun read is it's setting in Seattle at the turn of the century and the newly implemented science of electricity that becomes part of the murder mystery. Seattle was quite progressive. I think we had one of the first electric trolleys in the country and our hydroelectric dams were bringing lights to homes and industry around the area. Pajer brings in the marvel of science, the rigors of the new electrical engineering depa ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 21 22 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
History, Medicine...: NOOK edition now available 1 8 Sep 23, 2011 08:26AM  
History, Medicine...: Kindle edition now available 1 11 Sep 17, 2011 08:31PM  
  • Tracking Shadows (Shadows of Justice, #4)
  • The Killing Storm (Sarah Armstrong, #3)
  • The River of Forgetting: A Memoir of Healing from Sexual Abuse
  • The Manicurist
  • Veronica's Nap
  • Falling Skies
  • There Is No Hope Here
  • The Jasmine Trade
  • Something Red
  • The Harper's Quine (Gilbert Cunningham, #1)
  • The Nine Fold Heaven
  • Gun Church
  • Out of Breath  (The Lithia Trilogy, #1)
  • Fortune's Son
  • Shame the Devil
  • Stealing Mona Lisa
  • The Secret Portrait (A Jean Fairbairn/Alasdair Cameron Mystery #1)
  • The Evelyn Project
Bernadette Pajer spent her childhood in Seattle, surrounded by the beautiful Cascade and Olympic mountains and Puget Sound. She holds a degree from the University of Washington, Bothell, where she studied CLA (Cultural, Literature, and the Arts) in the Interdisciplinary Arts and Science program. Research is her favorite activity, and she happily delves into Seattle's past and the early days of ele ...more
More about Bernadette Pajer...

Other Books in the Series

Professor Bradshaw Mysteries (3 books)
  • Fatal Induction: A Professor Bradshaw Mystery
  • Capacity for Murder: A Professor Bradshaw Mystery

Share This Book

“Without death, life would have no boundaries and our days would not be so precious. My mother was a firm believer in the common sense of nature.” 2 likes
More quotes…