Publishers Weekly 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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Booklist Review
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.--Gaughan, Thomas Copyright 2010 Booklist