Friday, February 25, 2005

Book Review - Death in the Age of Steam: A Mystery, Mel Bradshaw

This literary mystery, set in 1856 Ontario and Quebec, focusses on a banker's quest to find his missing former love, the daughter of a prominent politician who died suddenly. Isaac Harris always regretted not declaring himself to Theresa Sheridan before she married business man Henry Crane three years earlier. Now he sees a way to make things right when it appears her husband is willing to give her up for dead when she disappears before her father's funeral. Certain she is in trouble, Isaac devotes himself to tracking her down.

This convincing portrait of life in pre-Confederation Canada holds many charms, from its snapshots of Victorian-era Toronto and various towns along the St. Lawrence River to its well-crafted mystery. Isaac is an appealing hero and detective, often falling into his discoveries, yet realistically portrayed. Theresa is a little more troubling and not entirely convincing, while the secondary characters range from stereotypical to bizarre.

Though the story moves along quite well, the pace lags at times as the author sometimes immerses the reader in too many details. Still, as mysteries go, this one held my interest and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about mid-18th century Kingston. It's clear the author did his research and those interested in this period of history should enjoy this fascinating combination of detective story and historical novel.

© Teresa Basinski Eckford 2004
This review first appeared in the November 2004 issue of The Historical Novels Review

1 comment:

McVane said...

Off topic: Oh, you are *that* Teresa Eckford! Years ago when I was a subscriber, I read your reviews in the HNS's ... was it SOLANDER? Highly enjoyable. This is a delayed thank you. :)