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Detroit Shuffle (Detroit Mysteries) Hardcover – September 3, 2013
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Johnson does for early 20th-century Detroit what James Ellroy did for 1950s Los Angeles, creating a noxious brew of violence and corruption in his fourth novel featuring auto mechanic Will Anderson (after 2012's Detroit Breakdown). In 1912, as the women's suffrage movement picks up steam, British suffragist Sylvia Pankhurst arrives in the city in advance of a pivotal vote on an amendment to grant Michigan women the vote. Anderson, nominally an employee of his father's electric car business, finds himself again in the midst of murder and mayhem when he stops a gunman from shooting the love of his life, Elizabeth Hume, one of Detroit's suffragette leaders. With his history of blackouts and illness, he has a hard time getting anyone to take his fears seriously, even as an assassination attempt on Teddy Roosevelt, the Progressive Party candidate for president, increases the tension around the campaign. Powerful forces are aligned against the amendment: in particular the Michigan Liquor Association, which fears that granting women the vote is but a prologue to prohibition. The complex plot works, and the detection and action scenes combine for a thrilling read—the series' best so far. Agent: Alex Glass, Trident Media Group. (Sept.)
Will Anderson, the protagonist of this series (Detroit Electric Scheme, 2010), is at a women’s suffrage rally organized by his lover, Elizabeth Hume, when he spots a suspicious-looking man apparently stalking Elizabeth. When the man draws a pistol, Will grabs him, deflecting the shot. But the man escapes, unseen by anyone else. Will is left holding the gun, and even Elizabeth thinks Will fired the shot that disrupted the rally. She believes he’s still suffering from the effects of radium “treatments” he endured. Soon, the heir to his father’s electric car company is neck deep in blackmail, murder, and the endemic corruption of Detroit in 1912. Johnson’s portrait of the city is vivid and engaging. Suffrage campaigners, the temperance movement, anarchists, socialists, and all manner of corrupt players vie for their causes. The auto industry is about to reshape the entire country. Teddy Roosevelt is running for president on the Bull Moose ticket. But Johnson’s characters, particularly the naive Will, just don’t measure up to the history, at least this time out. --Thomas Gaughan
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Top Customer Reviews
There's also a mystery involving suffragettes, liquor barons, and skullduggery in city hall, and a brilliant sequence involving the smuggling of a state-of -the-art (for the early 20th century) recording device into a strategic location which is simultaneously hilarious, harrowing, and thrilling.
Highly recommend this book to those looking for an unconventional historic crime thriller.
Detroit Shuffle balances Danger, Heartfelt, and Laugh out loud funny with ease.
Will is back in the thick of it again, and really, who'd want it any other way?
I thoroughly enjoyed this read.
The best parts of the book were the break-in at Eloise and the whole "Bug Check!" ruse. Will's interaction with Francis and Robert, as well as their reactions to him and each other, are laugh out loud funny. It was good to see that they played an important part in bringing this mystery full circle in the end. They very nearly stole the second act. I'm glad Johnson left the book open-ended. We may not be seeing the end of Will and Elizabeth.
Yes, this is a thriller novel set in early 1900's Detroit which makes it chock full of corruption angles--this one relative to the MLA (Michigan Liquor Association) which, as a former marketing director for a successful microbrewery in Michigan myself, had a humorous irony to it. Yes there are police and bad chases with guns and some death.
But what I love most about this series is the core humanity in the main character. I'm not a huge fan of 1st person novels, and the concept of a thriller written that way did not appeal to me on the surface but Will is an endearing, earnest, if somewhat lazy at times, guy. And the way this book is written truly makes you feel him, and to understand his priorities. He does come across a little spoiled at times, but I believe that is something the author does on purpose in order to juxtapose his various dire circumstances (in jail, in the nut house, broke 'cause Daddy fired from a job he hated anyway as engineer at the electric car company) against the life he could be leading--and simply chooses not to.
this is a must read series!