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Detroit Breakdown (Detroit Mysteries) Kindle Edition

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Length: 334 pages

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for D. E. Johnson:

Detroit Breakdown:

"Johnson’s excellent third mystery effectively employs parallel first-person narratives to advance an investigation into a creepy murder.  Johnson makes the most of the spooky setting." --Publishers Weekly (starred review) 
"Johnson’s third chronicle of early-1900s Detroit provides a mystery with suspects aplenty and a scary portrait of life in an insane asylum."--Kirkus Reviews
"While exposing his characters to sadistic doctors, violent orderlies, and chaotic, frightening madness, Johnson ratchets up the tension as the killer repeatedly eludes capture. The Phantom’s unmasking is such a shock that readers will wonder if Elizabeth and Will can ever recover. As suspenseful and twisted as Lehane’s Shutter Island (2003) and Lavalle’s The Devil in Silver (2012), this taut historical thriller is a definite winner."--Booklist
"Johnson’s spooky third series entry ensures its place among hot new historicals. His unique take on Detroit in the early 20th century and its burgeoning automotive culture make this entry a perfect crossover selection for historical fiction buffs. The lead characters—chapters alternate between the two narrators—have a checkered and violent past that Johnson fills in nicely for new readers. Recommend for Stefanie Pintoff and Caleb Carr devotees."--Library Journal
"Detroit Breakdown is a powerful dark historical noir. Fast-paced from the moment Will enters the asylum, readers will be shocked by the treatment he receives. The serial killer inquiry is superb, but it is the conditions at the Eloise Insane Asylum that grips the audience as D.E. Johnson provides another superb Anderson Motor City Shakedown."--Genre Go Round Reviews

Motor City Shakedown

“The scenes of Motor City, riding high on the industrial wave, are extraordinarily vivid.”--The New York Times Book Review

Johnson’s vibrant follow-up to The Detroit Electric Scheme delivers razor-sharp depictions of the Motor City. Johnson brings the turbulence and rampant corruption of the era to life through his flawed yet tenacious lead in this worthy successor to his debut.”--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“If Dennis Lehane was from Detroit, this is the book he’d write. The Motor City was once the most important city in the world, and D. E. Johnson does a masterful job at making that time and place come alive on the page. Motor City Shakedown is as hard and tough and downright noir as anything I’ve read in recent memory, but it’s got a beating heart, too.”--Steve Hamilton, Edgar Award–winning author of The Lock Artist

“Superb.”--National Review

“Johnson’s . . . clever weaving of history with intriguing characters makes for an exciting read.”--Kirkus Reviews


The Detroit Electric Scheme

“The surprise ending leaves you gasping and shaking your head at Johnson’s masterful plotting and the menacing tension that forces otherwise good characters to behave despicably. Every bit as powerful as Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley series, this gem of a debut showcases an author to watch very closely.”--Booklist (starred review)

“An empathetic hero and an abundance of interesting historical detail should keep readers engaged.”--Kirkus Reviews

“Full of nonstop action, plot twists and turns, and great insight into the early history of the U.S. car industry, this debut is part coming-of-age tale and part historical mystery. Essential for historical fans.”--Library Journal

“Absorbing.”--The Seattle Times


About the Author

D. E. Johnson, a graduate of Central Michigan University, is a history buff who has been writing fiction since childhood. He comes by his interest in automotive history through his grandfather, who was the vice president of Checker Motors. Johnson is also the author of The Detroit Electric Scheme and Motor City Shakedown and lives with his family near Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Product Details

  • File Size: 589 KB
  • Print Length: 334 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1250006627
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (September 4, 2012)
  • Publication Date: September 4, 2012
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007RN0I0A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #471,499 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

D.E. (Dan) Johnson's literary debut, a historical mystery entitled The Detroit Electric Scheme, was published by St. Martin 's Minotaur Books in September 2010 to critical acclaim. It was named one of Booklist's Top Ten First Crime Novels of 2010 and won a Michigan Notable Book Award. The sequel, Motor City Shakedown, will be released by Minotaur on September 13, 2011.

Dan is a history buff who has been writing fiction since childhood, but had to hit his midlife crisis to realize he should get serious about it. He and his wife, Shelly, have always encouraged their children to make their dreams a reality - and it finally occurred to him to do the same. After taking classes, reading everything about writing he could find, and writing for hours every day, he hit on the right subject and genre, and wrote a book that Loren Estleman calls "A LES MISERABLES for the American experience."

The early Twentieth Century, a time of big ambitions, huge achievements, and crushing poverty, holds a special fascination for him. Dan comes by his interest in automotive history honestly. His grandfather was the Vice President of Checker Motors, beginning work with Checker in 1924 and continuing until 1980. Fortunately, Dan doesn't come by his interest in murder the same way.

After spending his childhood in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Dan graduated from Central Michigan University and owned a business in Grand Rapids, Michigan for many years. He is married, has three daughters, and once again lives near Kalamazoo. He's currently working on Detroit Breakdown, the third book in the series, which finds Will behind the walls of Eloise Hospital, Wayne County's sprawling mental institution.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By nicole cybulski on September 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Awesome third installment of the Will Anderson historical thrillers.
Such a fantastic read. (I was lucky enough to read an advance copy.)
I would recommend this book to pretty much anyone. It is a fun ride the whole way through.
The history of Eloise Mental Hospital is insane. The "treatments" used back in the day are so interesting to learn about. I love that I get to read a really fun book but also take away real information.
The split narrative the author uses in this book (different from the previous two) gives a new life to Elizabeth, the female protagonist. Her depth as a character is greatly enhanced. It really works. It is also a good tool for keeping the reader on the edge of their seat! One narrative leaves you hanging where the other one starts. It is very hard to put down!
Great suspense, great fun and a lot of incredible history.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sam Sattler on October 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Detroit Breakdown is the third book in D.E. Johnson's Will Anderson/Elizabeth Hume series. The book (following The Detroit Electric Scheme and Motor City Shakedown) is set in 1912 Detroit, and focuses on fictional events inside the real-life Eloise Insane Asylum located just outside the city.

Elizabeth is shocked to learn that her cousin, a patient in the asylum, is being accused of the murders of several of his fellow patients. Each of the victims has been strangled by a "Punjab lasso," the weapon-of-choice of the Phantom of the Opera, himself - and Robert has been found leaning over the body of the latest to suffer that fate. Elizabeth is certain that her cousin is not a murderer, and she is determined to prove his innocence. And Will, wanting desperately to prove his love for Elizabeth, decides to investigate the murders from the inside - by having himself committed to the asylum as a mental patient.

Elizabeth, with the help of Detroit Police Detective Riordan, also plays a key role in the investigation. Not only does she penetrate the walls of the asylum as a volunteer worker, she and the detective follow all leads pointing outside Eloise. But when Will's scheme is exposed, and he finds himself at the mercy of a doctor who has everything to lose if exposed, the dual investigations become a race against the clock.

Author Dan Johnson, a native of northern Michigan, is both an amateur historian and the grandson of a former Vice President of Checker Motors. He combines his love of history and his keen appreciation for early automotive pioneers to create a noirish setting for 1912 Detroit.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Wendy L. Hines VINE VOICE on September 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I've read other accounts of how patients were treated back in the day at aslyums and it's horrific. Johnson doesn't shy away from the subject in Detroit Breakdown, and will, in fact, have readers frantically turning the page in this thrilling suspenseful installment.

Elizabeth is shocked when she finds out her cousin Robert has been accused of killing another patient. Robbie has been a patient at Eloise Insane Aslyum for most of his life. She is sure he is innocent and sets out to prove it. She asks her friend Will to help her and he fakes amnesia, getting himself admitted to the hospital.

What Will doesn't take it account, though, is the brutal way he is treated. He wants that inside position so he can find out who the real killer is and prove Robert's innocence, but he didn't sign up for this! Elizabeth, Robert, the detective on the case and others lead the reader on a quest to find the real killer, who is killing patients, but along the way, we are presented with enthralling details of history. Johnson is a superbly talented author whom's writing will keep you riveted. Highly recommend!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By bookbuzz on September 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Detroit, 1912; horse drawn carriages are being replaced by electric or petrol driven vehicles and women's suffrage can't come fast enough. A golden period before the ghastliness of the Great War put an end to the hopes and dreams of a generation of young men, it's the year chosen by D.E. Johnson as a backdrop to his latest mystery, Detroit Breakdown.

A history buff, D.E. Johnson's family background in the automotive industry is put to good use in this rattling good yarn about mayhem and murder in a real life Detroit asylum. Eloise Insane Asylum was founded in 1839 and operated continuously until 1984. The name, Eloise Hospital or Sanatorium, not adopted until 1911, it had two main buildings, one was used to treat the mentally ill and the other for the treatment and housing of patients suffering from tuberculosis. Not, you would think, an ideal combination but one which no doubt suited the finances of the County, as after entering either facility, patients (mostly poor or abandoned) were not expected to last long; the old saying: Kill two birds with one stone seems appropriate.

The story begins as Elizabeth Hume, a good gal to know if you're in a tight corner, and Will Anderson, her likeable but somewhat rash ex-fiancé, field a call from Eloise Asylum - a patient has died and Elizabeth's cousin, Robert will more than likely be charged with murder. Robert's incarceration at Eloise, a family secret, he has not had a visit from his family for ten years. Will and Elizabeth jump in her Baker Electric car and motor post haste to the asylum.
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