Capacity For Murder by Bernadette Pajer

Capacity For MurderIn the early 20th Century, where better to get your ailments sorted out than the Healing Hands Sanitarium on the Pacific Coast, southwest of Seattle. With all the latest therapies and treatments, such as restorative rest cures, specially prepared diets and that most up to date invention, electrotherapeutics. Oh, don’t worry about all that new-fangled electricity – it hasn’t ever killed anyone. Oh, hang on, that’s exactly what’s just happened.

Enter Professor Benjamin Bradshaw, Physics Professor and, apparently, licensed detective, with a specialism in problems involving that most mysterious of things, electricity! But when he arrives at the Sanitarium, he is shocked to discover that the lethal machine was one that he himself built. Was the death an accident or was it deliberately sabotaged? With the Sanitarium containing a walking dead man and a deadly killer, it seems that Bradshaw has his work cut out for him – if his personal life doesn’t get in the way…

The penultimate of my 20 Books Of Summer, I last visited this series, of which this is the third book, over three years ago – whoops! I was impressed by the introduction of real science into the narrative, with the choice of time period completely appropriate to that approach. The first book, A Spark Of Death, was a great read, but Fatal Induction, while still entertaining, suffered from a somewhat lacklustre middle section.

This one? Well, it’s a strong premise and a complex enough plot, but it’s let down in a number of places. The murderer is inevitable from too early on in the tale, and even when they’re actually revealed, it goes on a bit too long for me before they’re brought to justice. And while Bradshaw is an interesting lead, I could have done with less of his personal life – which felt like they belonged in a different story – and more development of the suspects, who never, for the most part, come alive.

So, to be honest, a bit of a disappointment. Still, Worth A Look, if you fancy a mystery set at the origins of modern science.


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