Friday, May 11, 2012

"Fatal Induction"

Bernadette Pajer is the author of the Professor Bradshaw Mystery series. A graduate of the University of Washington, Pajer is a proud member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Northwest Science Writers, and the Research is Pajer’s favorite activity, and she happily delves into Seattle’s past and the early days of electrical invention as she plots Professor Bradshaw’s investigations.

Pajer applied the Page 69 Test to Fatal Induction, the second Professor Bradshaw Mystery, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Fatal Induction finds Professor Benjamin Bradshaw out of his element down in the seedy tenderloin district of Seattle in 1901 (later the area would infamously be called Skid Road), and yes, I'd say this page is representative of the investigation Bradshaw is compelled to undertake. While electrical invention plays a key role, Bradshaw's second book takes him outside his comfort zone, revealing much about him and his relationship with those closest to him—his eight-year-old son, his housekeeper, Henry Pratt, and Detective O'Brien of the Seattle Police.

Multiple concerns, at first seemingly unrelated, tug at Bradshaw as the story begins. Hovering menacingly in the background is the shooting of President McKinley in Buffalo, NY. In Seattle, as elsewhere across the country, crowds gather around newspaper offices, waiting to hear if the president will pull through. Bradshaw tries to focus on an electrical competition at the Seattle Grand Theater. The winner's telephonic system will bring sounds of the theater directly to subscribers' homes through their telephones. It's a service enjoyed in major cities around the world, and it would be the first ever in the western United States. But Bradshaw's distracted by an abandoned patent medicine wagon behind his house in which a father and child lived. The child is missing, and it appears she may have witnessed a murder. It's his search for the child that drives Bradshaw into this scene on page 69, down into the tenderloin, following the girl's trail.

There are details mentioned here that are intimately tied to the murder mystery, and there is a hidden clue here that is telling, but only if you've read the first 68 pages. Any guesses?

Excerpt page 69 Fatal Induction:
“Found it.”

“Just like that. Found it. Are you in the habit of taking whatever property you stumble across?”

“Abandoned property is fair game. Finders keepers.”

“Where’d you get this other?” Bradshaw skimmed the blue label in his hand. Dr. Drummer’s Proven Elixir. Medical science’s most powerful formula to restore the natural balance and ensure health, wealth, and happiness. This powerful tonic has been especially and scientifically created for Men and Women Suffering from Degradation and Despair. A thrice daily dose will dispel Aches, Pains, Vermin, Disease, Addiction, and Failure.

He looked up. The peddler had turned away and was waving the bottle at disinterested people across the street. Bradshaw stood silently, patiently. He’d been a teacher for enough years to recognize evasion. He also knew the power of waiting it out. Five minutes passed, and finally the exasperated peddler wheedled, “What you want from me? I got it from my usual source, and it’s all legit and above board and I got a license from the Pharmacy Board to sell and no you can’t see it, you ain’t no cop.”

“Who’s your usual source?”

“You want to get into the business, I ain’t helping you. Now beat it, this is my corner, bought and paid for, and you’re scaring away my customers.”

“How do you buy a street corner?”

“What are you, stupid? Nobody could be that green.”

The peddler meant, of course, he was paying the police or some other person of authority to keep competitors away from this spot. “Paying graft for privileges or protection? That’s illegal.”

“That’s business in this part of town, and you’d better learn the ropes if you don’t want to wash up on the tide flats.”

Bradshaw wasn’t frightened. Bluster and exaggeration were as common as mud around here. And yet…the soggy lot on Capitol Hill was far above the tide flats, but a body had washed up there.

“Show me where you found Ralph’s.” He produced another bill that was quickly snatched.
Learn more about the book and author at Bernadette Pajer's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Spark of Death.

Writers Read: Bernadette Pajer (July 2011).

My Book, The Movie: A Spark of Death.

--Marshal Zeringue