cover image Detroit Shuffle

Detroit Shuffle

D.E. Johnson. Minotaur, $25.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-00676-9

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.)