Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Motor City Shakedown by D.E. Johnson

Title: Motor City Shakedown
Author: D.E. Johnson

Genre: Fiction (Mystery / Murder / 1910s / Mafia / Detroit / Automobile Manufacturing)
Publisher/Publication Date: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (9/13/2011)
Source: TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: Yes, very easily.
One-sentence summary: Seven months after Will Anderson was framed for murder, he's struggling with a crippling injury, an addiction, and an all-consuming desire for revenge.
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I love it -- paperboys feature in this novel, and I think the layout and design is super catchy.

I'm reminded of...: M.L. Malcolm

First line: My left index finger traced the shape of the little morphine bottle through the outside of my trouser pocket.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow -- after you read the first book!

Why did I get this book?: It has all the elements I like in fiction: great historical setting, unique location, crime.

Review: First things first: don't read the blurb for this book if you at all think you're going to read the first book, Detroit Electric Scheme, as the description totally spoils book one. (And I think you'll want to read the first book first.) I enjoyed Detroit Electric Scheme and so was eager to read this book.

Set in 1911, Detroit, the novel continues to follow Will Anderson, a young man devastated by the last three years. Will finds himself framed for murder in Detroit Electric Scheme, and this book starts about seven months later. Sustaining a crippling injury from the first book, Will now struggles with a morphine addiction and an all-consuming desire for revenge. In trying to get back at the men who hurt him and those he cared about, Will becomes embroiled in a turf war between two Sicilian families.

I wasn't wild about the plot of this book as much as the first one, but I'm not a Mafia fangirl myself. However, knowing that the turf war depicted in this story was historically accurate made it more interesting to me, and it's apparent Johnson loves Detroit and Detroit history. As a result, I cared, too.

I noticed a change in Johnson's writing in this novel: there was less peppering of historical trivia in the narrative than in the first book, and I found the story read a little more effortlessly. Even though I loved the tidbits I learned in Detroit Electric Scheme, I was aware I was reading; now, I found myself sinking into the story and emerging only when nudged by my wife to eat dinner or go to bed.

Fans of historical crime fiction will enjoy this series -- I love the unique setting and the real place-as-character feel.  Plus, I think Johnson is working on a third book, which makes me very excited -- Detroit has been added to my list of places to visit someday thanks to his very obvious love for the city -- and I'm looking forward to Will's further adventures.


  1. I am going to be reading this one soon for a tour, but had no idea that it was the second in a series. That is kind of a bummer to me because I doubt I will have the time to read the first one beforehand. It sounds like I need to do a little research to get my bearings before rushing into this one. Great review, by the way. I am glad that you enjoyed the book!

  2. @Heather: It stands alone pretty well (I think -- I did read the two back-to-back so I might be wrong) -- but I definitely think this is the slightly better of the two book -- the writing is sharper, the characters a little more finely tuned. I think enough back story is provided that you shouldn't be lost.

  3. Hm, nah, skip, but great review as always :)

    And I am a mafia fangirl ;)

  4. Looks like I have to read both of these books...great review...I love that really is busy, but want to examine it closely.

  5. I'm glad this book sucked you in story-wise more than the previous one did.

    Thanks for being on the tour!