The Detroit Electric Scheme
D. E. Johnson
Minotaur, Sep 14 2010, $24.99
In 1910 Detroit, Will Anderson works for his father's electric car company. In the machining room, Will finds the corpse of John Cooper, who was crushed by a hydraulic press. Recognizing the deceased as the man engaged to his former lover Elizabeth, and panicking, a frightened Will flees the factory as the circumstantial evidence will hang him even without Detroit cops beating a confession from him.
Will informs Elizabeth that someone murdered John and he fears she could be next. He offers to keep her safe, but she refuses. As Will conducts an inquiry far from the spotlights, he finds cruel corruption as the cornerstone of the city; that is when he does not stop for a drink to dull the haze.
The Detroit Electric Scheme is a fabulous historical amateur sleuth that showcases the underbelly of the Motor City at a time of optimism when American companies made Michigan the capital of the fledgling auto industry. Real persona including some of the founding fathers add a sense of realism as does Will’s alcoholism which makes his investigation off kilter due the application of fuzzy logic. Although readers will feel some compassion for the lead with his plight that also is tempered by his self inflicting wounds as he is not a likable character. Still the audience will enjoy this fine early twentieth century mystery as where there’s a Will there’s a way.