Tuesday, August 13, 2013

If you like history, mysteries, and Detroit, you'll love these books...

I'm really excited about September 3. Not because it's the day after Labor Day. (Because, really, why would anyone be excited about that?) I'm excited because that's the day the fourth book in the Detroit-set historical mystery series by Kalamazoo author D.E. Johnson will arrive in my mailbox. (I've already pre-ordered it from Amazon.)

I HIGHLY recommend this series for anyone who's interested in Michigan, history, and mysteries (or any combination thereof). I read the first book in the series, The Detroit Electric Scheme, because the Library of Michigan named it a Michigan Notable Book in 2011. I was skeptical, because I wasn't really a "mystery" person, but the plot sounded interesting. (Will Anderson, the alcoholic ne'er-do-well son of a Detroit automobile company owner, must defend himself from murder allegations after the body of his former friend is found crushed in a hydraulic press in his father's factory.) So I gave it a try.

And I read it in, like, three days. I couldn't put it down. I enjoyed the book because it had a suspenseful plot and also because I learned a lot about early automotive history, as well as the milieu of Detroit during the early 20th century. The book includes such "real-life" characters as Edsel Ford, the Dodge brothers, Big Boy (a fearsome bouncer at one of Detroit's seediest bars), and the Adamos (leaders in the Detroit underworld at that time). The book's main characters are fictional, but are so well-drawn that when misfortune befalls one of them at the end of the book, I started crying (which is something I NEVER do while reading).

Three other books follow The Detroit Electric Scheme: Motor City Shakedown (which was a 2012 Michigan Notable Book); Detroit Breakdown; and the latest, Detroit Shuffle, which hits the shelves in September. Each pits Will against a different aspect of the early-20th-century Detroit underworld, and is required reading for anyone checking out this blog. Seriously. There will be a pop quiz about the books tomorrow morning.

Okay, I won't go that far, but I do recommend this series...read the books, get lost in stories that will set your heart racing, learn some amazing things about early Detroit, and support a Michigan author in the process.

For more information:

D.E. Johnson's website

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