Mel Bradshaw studied English and philosophy at the University of Toronto and continued at Oxford. His first novel, Death in the Age of Steam, was shortlisted for an Arthur Ellis Award for best first crime novel. He lives in Toronto.
Fire on the Runway
From one grenade exploding in 1920s Toronto to the seeds of a new war in Europe …
As Torontonians move to the beat of the Jazz Age, war is the furthest thing from their minds. Then a fatal grenade explosion outside a west end hotel room breaks the rhythm. The room’s registered occupant, a mysterious European woman calling herself Lucy, disappears before she can shed any light on the incident.
Police detective Paul Shenstone believes someone is trying to assassinate Lucy. Once he has found her, he will learn the reason: she has uncovered dangerous secrets that threaten world peace. Shenstone must protect Lucy and pursue her attackers. At the same time, his own experience as an infantry officer in Flanders compels him to go beyond his police function. He feels he must help Lucy get her message to the corridors of power, so that a new war may be prevented.
Whoopee! Mel Bradshaw takes us to the Jazz Age in Toronto just in time for the Great Gatsby party. Historical reconstruction is Bradshaw’s forte (his early Victorian mystery, Death in the Age of Steam, was short-listed for an Arthur Ellis Award) and he’s at the top of his game here with mysterious maidens and hot jazz.
This excellent police thriller set in 1926 Canada is the second case (after Quarrel with the Foe) for Bradshaw’s World War I vet. It’s reminiscent of John Buchan’s classic The Thirty-Nine Steps, with abundant espionage and historical detailing.
Bradshaw’s skill for depicting details is what brings post-war Toronto to life.
Bradshaw does a good job of combining personal lives, specific crime investigations, and large, grave international trends and events in compelling, reasonably logical fashion.
Fire on the Runway is Bradshaw at the top of his game. He writes a story in which murder, espionage and good old-fashioned detective work are challenging and satisfying despite the absence of forensic toys.