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Death in the Age of Steam

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“The first two things to say about this exceptionally good first novel by Mel Bradshaw is that the title and cover are wonderful. After dozens of generic covers — swastikas, bloody knives, evil-looking shadows — it’s great to see a mystery about a woman, and the portrait of Caroline Fitzgerald, by Edward Burne-Jones, is the perfect muse for this meandering story of love and death.”

(Margaret Cannon, The Globe and Mail)


The woman who sat for Sir Edward Burne-Jones was nineteen-year-old Caroline Fitzgerald. Although she never lived in Toronto, her father William J. Fitzgerald was a member of the first class of students at Upper Canada College in 1830. After legal studies at Trinity College, Dublin, William returned to Toronto. At the time of our story (1856), he is believed to have been practising law at 43 King Street W. In the 1860s, he moved to New York City and married Mary A. White. Caroline was born there, the couple’s first child.


The painting is in the collection of the University of Toronto Art Centre.


Death in the Age of Steam is a remarkable novel on many levels. It is meticulously researched, and a splendid evocation of a time gone by. The writing is crisp and lively, the characters well-defined and large as life. And as if all that wasn’t enough, the story is powerful and compelling; the narrative hurtles along like a locomotive. It is both an adventure and a love story, and while it all takes place long ago, it’s very much a novel for our time.”

(Paul Quarrington, author of King Leary and Whale Music)

“They loped south to Front Street. Among the brick villas ranged along the north side, Sheridan’s alone showed no flicker of lamp or candle. Its emptiness seemed amplified by the extraordinary amount of glass in its symmetrical façade. Each of the nine sash windows carried eighteen large panes, all dark. Vandervoort turned in at the low gate, crossed the unweeded front garden, and climbed the three steps that led from it to the semicircular porch.”
Campbell House (160 Queen Street West, Toronto) served as the model for the villa of the fictitious Member of Parliament William Sheridan. The death of Sheridan and the disappearance of his married daughter Theresa are the events that set the story of Death in the Age of Steam in motion.

Campbell House was built in 1822 by Upper Canada Chief Justice Sir William Campbell. The extraordinary amount of glass in the façade made the house airy, bright, beautiful — and expensive to heat.

Death in the Age of Steam

A historical crime novel by Mel Bradshaw

Paperback 456pp
ISBN: 978-1-45971-631-5
Page last updated 2017-08-03

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