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Mel Bradshaw Books In Order

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Publication Order of Paul Shenstone Mystery Books

Quarrel with the Foe (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon
Fire on the Runway (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
Winner's Loss (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Death in the Age of Steam (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon
Victim Impact (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon

Mel Bradshaw is a Canadian award-winning author of crime novels. He is famously known for his 2004 debut novel Death in the Age of Steam. Bradshaw is a graduate of Oxford and the University of Toronto, where he served as the film editor of The Varsity. He has taught English classes in Southeast Asia and Canada and written crime novels set in three different eras.

His 2008 novel, Victim Impact novel, features courtroom drama and biker gangs in the 21st-century Golden Horseshoe. His book Death in the Age of Steam is set in Victorian Canada and won the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award in 2004 in the mystery category. The novel was also shortlisted for the Ellis Award. His books Fire on the Runway, Quarrel with the Foe, and Winner’s Loss are set in the 1920s, and they all feature police detective Paul Shenstone. Bradshaw has also written short fiction and non-fiction in different Canadian periodicals.

The Industrial Revolution in Canada was a significant time of change and growth in the country’s history. While we often think of this period as a time of technological progress, economic shifts, and urbanization, there was also a darker side to it. During the Industrial Revolution in Canada, there were cases of people disappearing, shedding light on some of the social challenges and mysteries of that era. These are some of the issues Mel Bradshaw’s debut novel Death in the Age of Steam focuses on.

In 1856, Toronto was going through industrialization, with little time for moral considerations or sentimental values. When Reform politician William Sheridan suddenly passes away and his daughter Theresa goes missing, only one man is interested in seeking answers. Isaac Harris, a former suitor of Theresa’s, still holds strong feelings for her despite her marriage to another man. He becomes an amateur detective and has to balance his job, deal with the shortcomings of the early city police, and face the opposition of Theresa’s influential husband, a steamboat and railway magnate.

Harris’s investigation takes a gruesome turn when he discovers human remains in a valley outside of town. The body is dressed in traces of Theresa’s clothing. This raises several questions. If she is indeed dead, who is responsible? And who is interested in finding out the truth, apart from the man who once loved her but was too hesitant and now wants to make amends? Death in the Age of Steam takes the reader on a journey through a well-drawn Victorian landscape, from Niagara Falls to Montreal and north to the shores of Lake Superior. It’s a world that is simultaneously familiar and exotic, filled with noise, smoke, and churning machinery, yet still relatable to people of the 21st century.

This story is not just about suspense, romance, history, and adventure but also intriguing characters. The central theme is romance, with the protagonist, Isaac Harris, acting as a devoted lover. Despite losing his love to another man, he embarks on a quest to find her when she disappears. His search takes him across various parts of Toronto and introduces us to the politics of the pre-Confederation era. The characters in the story represent different sections of society, and some of them are so well-drawn that they feel like real people.

First published in 2005, Quarrel with the Foe is the first book in the Paul Shenstone Mystery series by Mel Bradshaw. We are introduced to Paul Shenstone, a police detective in 1920s Toronto. He survived the horrors of the Great War. In his daily work, he focused on dealing with small-time criminals and those involved in the illegal alcohol trade. However, his life takes a significant turn when a prominent industrialist is murdered unusually. This case becomes the most significant of his career, offering an opportunity to make a name for himself on the police force, even though he’s not entirely thrilled about it.
Things get complicated when Paul’s investigation reveals connections between the deceased industrialist, Digby Watt, and soldiers he knew during his time in Flanders. Now, he faces a difficult choice. If one of his former comrades is the culprit, what will Paul do? He has promised to bring justice to Watt’s attractive and independent daughter, but the bonds formed during wartime are not easily broken. In the end, Paul must decide whether justice demands restitution or punishment.

Quarrel with the Foe is a skillfully written mystery that skillfully weaves together clues, red herrings, and background details into the plot. The author, Mel Bradshaw, presents a complex protagonist, Paul, who grapples with both past and present demons. Bradshaw effectively illustrates the far-reaching impact of war, not only on soldiers but also on their families and those indirectly involved. It’s a compelling read.

The description of the Canadian troops’ experiences in the second battle of Ypres is authentically portrayed, aligning with non-fiction accounts. Paul may not be the most reliable narrator, especially concerning his struggles with alcohol.

Despite his flaws, Paul is a character who strives to solve the case, navigating his issues with alcohol, complicated relationships with women, and personal feelings about the war and his fellow soldiers’ experiences. Paul’s supervisor and other characters also grapple with their strong emotions as they realize how closely connected Paul’s wartime past is to the case at hand.

Winner Loss is the third book in the Paul Shenstone series set in the Roaring Twenties Toronto. In the vibrant artistic scene of Toronto in 1927, Nora Britton, who had won the commission to create a war memorial mural for Christ Church Grange Park, is tragically found dead on the church floor. It initially appears as though she had an accidental fall from the scaffold she was using for her work.

However, Police Detective Paul Shenstone uncovers a darker side to the story when he learns that Nora has been receiving death threats from parishioners. Shenstone’s investigation takes him through various parts of the city, from the slums to mansions, speakeasies, laboratories, and artists’ studios. Nora’s death becomes an obsession for him, and his list of potential suspects keeps growing as he uncovers hidden religious and ethnic tensions in the city. His determination, intelligence, and sharpshooting skills are all put to the test in his quest to bring justice to Nora.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Mel Bradshaw

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