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Detroit Crime Books In Order

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Publication Order of Detroit Books

Detroit Crime is a series of crime novels written by a bestselling American author of western, mystery and thrillers novels, Loren D. Estleman. Originally intended to be a three book series of crime novels, Eastleman went ahead to write a total of seven books. The series debuted in 1990 when Whiskey River, was published and concluded in 1999 after Thunder City was released. Each novel in the series covers a different decade in Detroit history.

Whiskey River (1990)

Whiskey River is the first novel in Detroit Crime series first published in 1990 by Scribners. The book was nominated for the 1991 Edgar Award for Best Novel.

The story begins in 1928 at the height of Prohibition- at a time when the United States experienced a nationwide constitutional ban on the importation, production, transportation and the sale of alcoholic drinks from 1920 to 1933. During the 19th century, family violence, political corruption, alcoholism, prompted activists led by Pietistic Protestants to end the alcoholic beverage trade in order to cure the society from the all the evil and weaken the political opposition. The supporters of the Prohibition also known as “drys” presented it as a victory for health and public morals.

Whiskey River introduces the readers to an eighteen-year-old boy named Jack Dance on the verge of being one of the famous gangers in Detroit. Then there is Connie Minor, a reporter of Greek descent who has just started his professional career as a newspaper reporter. Both Connie and Jack meet with a blind pig on the day it gets tipped over by the bulls. (This is one of the early 20th slung, so this novel provides an excellent opportunity for you to get to know such terms).

The narrative is a case of the strange friendship between these two young men. As Jack Career’s rises, in the underworld realm, on the other hand, Minor’s star shines in the journalism world due to his reporting on the activities of police corruption and the rum runners.

Minor writes all his stories with all the insights of an inside story, even though he does not commit a crime himself, he is often present when they happen. His obsession with Jack somehow lands him in some hot water.

The first novel in Detroit Crime series is a brilliant read, Eastleman wove one of the best historical books of the 20th century. Even though the characters are fictional, some of the events depicted in the story are historical. The characterization is well done; the two lead characters are well drawn as well. First, there is Constantine Minor aka Connie, a Detroit based journalist who has made a name for himself by covering crime novels in the late 1920’s and the early 1930’s. This was a time when mobsters and bootleggers carved out Detroit into the spheres of influence and exerted their influence.

Most of the times city cops often looked the other way, selecting on what crimes to ignore and solve, thanks to the increasing cases of bribery. Meanwhile, Detroit’s industrial might, just as evidenced by the automotive industry continued to expand thus giving the city prosperity soon to be ravaged by the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression.

Minor cultivates a variety of contact with Detroit’s underworld figures such as Jack Dance the famous bootlegger establishing his own criminal empire in Detroit. He also makes contact with Joey the Machine, a brilliant and ruthless criminal overlord, a man who does not tolerate any challenges to his authority. Through Minor writing pieces for the local newspaper, the readers get a glimpse of the colorful and the chaotic lives of crime syndicates, bosses, cops, and politicians.

One of the most exciting scenes in the book is when Minor accompanies the rising crime lord, Jack Dance and his associates to Canada to pick up cases of alcohol and transport them back to Detroit across the stretches of the frozen over Detroit river in the winter of 1930. Unfortunately, they are caught in a machine gun fire, and they barely escape the Prohibition Squad. Minor’s narration of this ordeal is fascinating- a promising read to keep you on the edge of your seat anticipating to know what happens next.

Whiskey River is an excellent novel that captures an era in the history of Detroit City. The Mob made a big comeback with the success of the HBO series The Sopranos that aired from January 1999 up to June 2007. Reading this novel, you get to know a lot of unsavory people, people who mercilessly kill others without a second thought to get what they want. The story is narrated through the eyes of Connie Minor; a journalist who sometimes joins sometimes cooperates and also sometimes protects some of Detroit mobsters. The life that he chooses is complicated and a dangerous one.


Motown is the second novel in Detroit Crime series by Loren D. Eastleman. The story is about the automotive industry in Detroit in the 1960’s when problems arose against those tremendous and famous cars built with fins, horsepower and meant for speeds but deadly death traps in an accident.

The novel introduces the readers to Rick Avery, a retired police officer who is at loose ends. His great passion is for cars, and he can quickly fix any of those Detroit cars. The biggest automobile manufacturer (unnamed in the book, but probably suggested to be Ford Motor Company), hires Rick to go undercover and find some dirt on a surprisingly increasing vocal consumer advocate crying out for safety regulations.

Today we usually take for granted those airbags, seat belts, windshields that blow out rather than shattering, and the hoods that do not crush on impact. Back in the mid-1960’s, the car manufacturers did not want anything that would interfere with the manufacture of cars or the flow of money coming in. The manufactures did not want their workers laid off while the required retooling was done.

In the meantime, a descendant of one of the famous gangsters in Whiskey River is grabbed numbers racket away from the Detroit Negroes back then (A slang term used in that time). The Black Power is on the rise, riots have already taken over major American cities, and inspector Lew Canada is doing whatever he can to cap the racial tensions that will spark Detroit riots of 1967.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Detroit Crime

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