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Motor City Shakedown (Detroit Mysteries) Hardcover – September 13, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Set in Detroit in 1911, 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."

Kirkus Reviews
"(Johnson's) clever weaving of history with intriguing characters makes for an exciting read."

...the scenes of the Motor City, riding high on the industrial wave, are extraordinarily vivid... (The New York Times)

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)

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))

Johnson's...clever weaving of history with intriguing characters makes for an exciting read. (Kirkus Reviews)

Violent, suspenseful, and complex, Johnson's shakedown in Detroit sucks the breath out of readers rushing to the cliff's edge with Will and Elizabeth. This gritty new series is a good match for James Ellroy and George Pelecanos fans... (Booklist)

...Johnson's superb historical noir...is more engaging, more complex, and more violent than its predecessor. (Gumshoe Review)

This is a superb violent historical noir that brings to life the Motor City one century ago. The meet me in Detroit story line is fast-paced but it is the cast who makes for a terrific action-packed tale especially Will. With tidbits of history interwoven to anchor time and place, readers will enjoy riding the Anderson Electric Car driven by D. E. Johnson. (Midwest Books Reviews)

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) on The Detroit Electric Scheme)

A empathetic hero and an abundance of interesting historical detail should keep readers engaged. (Kirkus Reviews on The Detroit Electric Scheme)

Full of nonstop action, plot twists and turns, and great insight into the early history of the United States car industry, this debut is part coming-of-age tale and part historical mystery. Essential for historical fans. (Library Journal on The Detroit Electric Scheme)

Absorbing. (The Seattle Times on The Detroit Electric Scheme)

Johnson is so skilled a writer that the race for supremacy between the manufacturers of electric and gasoline-powered automobiles is every bit as exciting as the chase through the streets of Detroit to find a ruthless killer. This remarkable debut novel will give you a thrilling ride, and leave you wanting more. (Historical Novels Review (Editor's Choice) on The Detroit Electric Scheme)

D. E. Johnson's terrific debut brilliantly captures the dangerous underbelly of 1910 Detroit's fast-growing automobile industry. A well-plotted mystery filled with memorable characters and taut suspense, The Detroit Electric Scheme makes for a compelling read. (Stefanie Pintoff, Edgar Award--winning author of In the Shadow of Gotham and A Curtain Falls, on The Detroit Electric Scheme)

Johnson makes a stunning debut, taking us to a time and place so very different from our own--and yet so very much the same. (Victoria Thompson, author of Murder on Lexington Avenue, on The Detroit Electric Scheme)

D. E. Johnson's impeccable research drives this crackling tale of murder set in Detroit's infant auto industry. . . . The Detroit Electric Scheme jolts you into a dangerous world of suspense and intrigue. (Rebecca Cantrell, award-winning author of A Trace of Smoke, on The Detroit Electric Scheme)

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 lives with his family near Kalamazoo, Michigan.

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Product Details

  • Series: Detroit Mysteries (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; Stated First Edition edition (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312644574
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312644574
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #977,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By The Bookish Dame on October 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I often choose books to read because of my preferences for literature, contemporary fiction, YA fiction/dystopian/paranormal, and women's literature. I also love a good murder mystery...not of the cottage sort. Once in a while I'm delighted and surprised with an opportunity to select a book that hits on my love of the late 1800's and early to mid 1900's.

"Motor City Shakedown" came across my path and I immediately snapped it up! I practically begged for a chance to review it. Here were my reasons: It takes place at the start of the 1900's, it's about a city I know very little about, it's a murder mystery, and it has gangsters involved. Just my black little heart's cup of tea!

I'm here to report to you that this novel is much more than I was expecting. It's classy and erudite. The characters are sophisticated and sexy. I'm talking about a dance with film noir when I talk about the characters and the story. D. E. Johnson's pace, his development of the mystery; and, the personal motivations and addictions of the charming "bad boy" savior, Will Anderson, kept this reader clambering for more.

There is, naturally, a female character, as well. Elizabeth Hume. She's beautiful, but so easy to like not only because of her faithfulness and support of Will, but also because she's modern and of a feminist mind. Johnson is my hero in this. He has Elizabeth choosing to lend her efforts to the "Michigan Equal Suffrage Assn.," and McGregar Mission, even when he didn't have to! And, it's Elizabeth-the-brave who plays a large role in bringing everything to a satisfying end. She's a strong woman, but doesn't have to give up her femininity. I'm loving Johnson for this!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on September 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In 1911 Detroit, it is Will Anderson's family that owns the Anderson Electric Car Company. However, his mind is not on vehicles. Instead he seeks revenge. Seven months ago thugs enabled John Cooper to murder his friend Wesley McRae and turned Will into a morphine addict. He lost or had disfigured several fingers due to sulfuric acid before he and his beloved former fiancée Elizabeth Hume escaped the gangsters (see The Detroit Electric Scheme), but the pain and disuse of his right hand remains constant .

His first break leads to gang boss Vito Adamo's driver Carlo Moretti. However, when Will goes to confront Moretti he is greeted by a dead man whose throat has been cut. The Detroit police believe Anderson killed Moretti in an act of revenge. He sits in jail for several months before being freed when someone else confesses to the homicide. The family company teeters near bankruptcy or unionization. Meanwhile, Will is in the crosshairs of gang warfare with enemies maybe being his allies and friends like Elizabeth back from Europe, Police Detective Riordan, and the Purple Gang on his side.

This is a superb violent historical noir that brings to life the Motor City one century ago. The meet me in Detroit story line is fast-paced but it is the cast who makes for a terrific action-packed tale especially Will. With tidbits of history interwoven to anchor time and place, readers will enjoy riding the Anderson Electric Car driven by D. E. Johnson.

Harriet Klausner
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By G. Shryock on September 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Motor City Shakedown, the sequel to The Detroit Electric Scheme, hits the ground running. Determined to avenge the death of a good friend, Will Anderson and his former fiancee, Elizabeth, team up and throw themselves into the dark underbelly of Detroit. Dealing with shady characters at every turn, they eventually find themselves in the thick of Detroit's first mob war. Historical characters such as the Adamos, the Gianollas, and the Berstein boys are reincarnated through Johnson's brilliant descriptions. The way Johnson weaves historical information into the plot gives you a better understanding of the time without feeling like you are being taught. And with Johnson's surprise ending, you will not be able to keep your jaw from dropping. This is a must read. The only thing you will be disappointed about is that the third book of the series is not on the shelf yet!
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Format: Hardcover
I'm not a murder mystery fan but I read Motor City Shakedown in an eight hour session because it was that intriguing. I admit my initial interest was due to the location--metro Detroit, my home for five years. Even though I lived there until 2008 and the story takes place in 1911, the streets the protagonist raced through or hid in were familiar names. So was the violence and corruption, although somewhat subdued from my vantage point in my Corktown neighborhood.

I love Detroit but I've wondered why it grows youth who turn to crime, often of the violent kind, not just for the money. Many do it to earn the respect of their peers and enemies. I have listened to young Detroiters tell stories of high schools where shooting was their response to being dissed (disrespected), their attendance required in places more like war zones than preparation for responsible adulthood. Johnson writes of the Purple Gang, boys who would have been grandfathers to the boys I met. To the teenaged Purple Gang, murder was no more serious than any other work assignment and would be carried out for whoever was willing to pay. Even though this is a novel, Johnson has done sufficient research to become knowledgeable about Detroit gangsters and the example they must have been to their grandchildren. The book may be a revelation of why too many Detroit youth turn to crime.

But this is not a morality story; it is the realistic narrative of the historical Motor City with its immense potential. Johnson gives us a glimpse of life in the time of Henry Ford (with a flattering portrait of his son, Edsel).
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