cover image Detroit Breakdown

Detroit Breakdown

D.E. Johnson. Minotaur, $25.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-00662-2

Set in 1912, Johnson’s excellent third mystery featuring auto mechanic Will Anderson (after 2011’s Motor City Shakedown) effectively employs parallel first-person narratives to advance an investigation into a creepy murder. Elizabeth Hume, an affluent woman with some skeletons in her closet, gets a late-night phone call that sends her and more-than-friend Will racing to Eloise Hospital, a sinister insane asylum in Wayne County, Mich. The anonymous caller has claimed that an inmate there, Robert Clarke, who’s a cousin of Elizabeth, has murdered a fellow patient and is threatening suicide. Elizabeth deftly defuses the situation when she arrives, but can’t persuade those in charge of Robert’s innocence. To clear his name, Elizabeth and Will both go undercover at the hospital—she as a volunteer, he as an amnesiac admitted for treatment. The authorities discount reports of other victims and that “the Opera Ghost” (aka “the Phantom”) was responsible. Johnson makes the most of the spooky setting. Agent: Alex Glass, Trident Media Group. (Sept.)