Death in the Age of Steam

by Mel Bradshaw
ISBN: 1894917006

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A Review of: Death in the Age of Steam
by W. P. Kinsella

Death in the Age of Steam by Mel Bradshaw is set in Toronto in 1856 and is a meticulously researched portrait of the times. Bank manager Isaac Harris is too slow in courting the lovely and engaging Theresa Sheridan. She takes his shyness for disinterest and marries a wealthy tycoon, Henry Crane. Three years pass. William Sheridan, Theresa's father, a high-ranking politician, dies unexpectedly after a minor illness, and before his funeral, devoted daughter Theresa vanishes. Her husband does not seem distressed about her disappearance, but Harris knows she would never miss the funeral, and her grief would not have caused a breakdown. Harris sets off on a quest to find Theresa and to find out what really happened the night William Sheridan died. He travels about Toronto, through Southern Ontario, eventually winds up in Montreal, and there are even forays into Michigan, all of which are informative and provide wonderful details of the 1850s. I don't want to give away any of the surprises, but several characters are not who they seem to be. Like a movie serial there are a number of cliffhangers. There is a plethora of characters, all well drawn, all necessary to the story. Isaac discovers the arm of a corpse clad in a sleeve from Theresa's dress and wearing her jewelry. Is Theresa dead or alive? It appears that industrialist Henry Crane may have dark secrets in his past. The novel moves relentlessly toward an exciting and plausible conclusion. The detail is occasionally overwhelming, and some of the dialogue in the final chapters is stilted and overly melodramatic. Still, this is a delightful, romance, mystery, and detective story, full of history and brimming with intelligent and superbly-rendered characters.

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