Today I am reviewing Motor City Shakedown by D. E. Johnson for TLC Book Tours. As always, I am provided with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Motor City Shakedown is a fascinating story. Part noir mystery, part historical novel, this novel takes place in Detroit in 1911. Detroit had just begun making the cars which would later define the city’s industrial complex. Unions were trying to move in. Mobs were jockeying for position. The protagonist, Will Anderson, becomes a murder suspect. He is determined to find the real killer. At the same time, he gets caught up in a web of dirty cops, union organizers, bribes and the mobs that are trying to help the Teamsters take over his father’s electric car company. Anderson, who is fighting a morphine addiction due to a terrible injury to his hand, must find an answer before his family and loved ones are killed.
The story is told using both real and historical characters. For instance, the protagonist, Will Anderson is the son of the owner of Detroit Electric (a maker of electric cars.) In fact, the character of Will’s father was a real person but had no son. His close friend is Edsel Ford, son of Henry Ford, who also appears, as do the founders of the big three car manufacturers andThomas Edison.
I was drawn to this novel because I was born in Detroit, raised in Dearborn (headquarters of the Ford Motor Company and where my high school was named after Edsel Ford) and then lived for several years in Detroit in my young adult years. I was immersed in the car culture – it was a part of our everyday life. So, I found the references fascinating. Streets I know well, buildings I remember clearly; some still standing and some long gone, all of the detail helped to create the Detroit I never knew. I enjoyed getting to experience this slice of early 20th century Detroit, the Detroit my grandparents lived in. (My paternal grandfather helped build radiators for the automotive industry.)
One thing I sometimes find with historical fiction is that the wealth of detail sometimes overshadows the story. It must be a tricky balance. It happens occasionally in this book. That’s not really a complaint, just an observation. D. E. Johnson’s research is impeccable and he paints a vivid picture of Detroit, its people and its industry in 1911.
I really enjoyed Motor City Shakedown. The story is compelling and very well written. And, by the way, it is the second in a series. I haven’t read the first one yet. It is entitled The Detroit Electric Scheme. I know you’ll enjoy this wonderful mystery.
If you’d like to win an autographed copy of this novel, visit the author’s website and enter!
About the author:
D. E. (Dan) Johnson, a graduate of Central Michigan University, is a history buff who has been writing fiction since childhood but had to hit his midlife crisis to get serious about it. His first novel, a historical mystery entitled The Detroit Electric Scheme, was published in September 2010 by St. Martin’s Minotaur Books. The Detroit Electric Scheme has garnered excellent reviews (including being named one of Booklist’s Top Ten First Crime Novels of the year) and also won a 2011 Michigan Notable Book Award.
Motor City Shakedown, the first sequel to The Detroit Electric Scheme, will be published by St. Martin’s in September 2011. Dan is married, has three daughters, and lives near Kalamazoo, Michigan.