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Detroit Breakdown

(Will Anderson #3)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  173 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Will Anderson and Elizabeth Hume are called to the vast Eloise Insane Asylum outside of Detroit, where Elizabeth’s cousin Robbie is a patient and now a murder suspect. The victim, like three others before him at the asylum in recent months, was killed with the infamous “Punjab lasso,” the murder weapon of the Phantom of the Opera.

Certain of Robbie’s innocence, they begin a
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by Minotaur Books
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  173 ratings  ·  46 reviews

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Well, I guess I shouldn't have started this trilogy with the 3rd book, but author did a good job of giving background on the main characters along the way making for a good, if somewhat predictable read. Having grown up in a suburb of Detroit, as a teen, I was well aware of the Eloise Insane Asylum, and rumors of the horrors inflicted there, but that was just kids scaring kids. (I thought). Detroit Breakdown is an entertaining crime-mystery that colors a very descriptive picture of the time, and ...more
Diane S ☔
May 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
3.5 Eloise asylum in Detroit, 1912. a murderer is operating within the asylum and so we readers get to follow Will has he has himself committed so that he can find the murderer. Love the characters, the relationships between the characters, family secrets exposed and of course fiction that is based on a real place. Very atmospheric as to time and place and this asylum did really exist and remained open until the 1980's. During it's heyday it was totally self sufficient and housed the unwanted, t ...more
Feb 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Detroit, Michigan, 1912. A vibrant, active city, the trolleys are packed no matter the time. The automobile industry is booming with the electric vs internal combustion engine supremacy still to be determined. The suffragette movement is going strong.

A late night anonymous call takes Elizabeth Hume and Will Anderson to Eloise, the insane asylum outside of Detroit. Her cousin, Robert Clarke, a long-time resident there, is accused of strangling another patient. But Robert says it was the Phantom.
Paul Pessolano
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
“Detroit Breakdown” by D. E. Johnson, published by Minotaur Books.

Category – Mystery/Thriller

D.E. Johnson has three books out and all take place in the 1900’s in Detroit, Michigan. It is best to read them in order but one can enjoy them in any order. This is the time of the automobile boom and the books contain many historical facts and places of the time. One such place is Eloise Hospital that was an institution that contained 10,000 patients and inmates and 78 buildings on 900 acres.

Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Mystery and Suspense Readers
I was asked to read this book and review it on the paranormal blog I contribute stories to. You can find my review of this book here:
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the third I've read in the series and my favorite so far. Two things contributed to that: the setting of Eloise, a former mental institution that fascinated me as a child whenever we drove by it; and the narration by Elizabeth for half of the book. She has become a more important character, Will's equal in sleuthing, so that we needed to hear from her what she was experiencing while Will was doing his thing.

I'd give this 4.5 stars, really, and the only reason I'm not giving it 5 is that
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Another really good mystery. Learned a little about Detroit and something that I wasn't aware of from the history of that once great city.
Chelsea Gordon
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing read

I loved the history of Detroit in the book. I love not too far from what's left of this asylum. I can imagine every detail in perfection.
Susan Fritz
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Picked this one up randomly at the library. Entertaining, easy read that I finished in a day. Might have to check out his other books!
Sam Sattler
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
Detroit Breakdown is the third book in D.E. Johnson’s Will Anderson/Elizabeth Hume series. The book (following The Detroit Electric Scheme and Motor City Shakedown) is set in 1912 Detroit, and focuses on fictional events inside the real-life Eloise Insane Asylum located just outside the city.

Elizabeth is shocked to learn that her cousin, a patient in the asylum, is being accused of the murders of several of his fellow patients. Each of the victims has been strangled by a “Punjab lasso,” the wea
Suspense Magazine
“Detroit Breakdown” is the third book in a mystery series set in Detroit in the 1910s. Johnson makes good use of period details, especially the little-known nuggets, like the popularity of electric cars at the time. Lead characters Will Anderson and his fiancée Elizabeth Hume each carry some baggage; sometimes the references to past events are interruptive, but overall their back stories drive them in compelling directions. The novel alternates between first-person narration from Will and Elizab ...more
Jun 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
“Detroit Breakdown” is the third novel staring Will Anderson, son of the owner of the Detroit Electric Car Company, and his fiancé/girlfriend Elizabeth and takes place in 1912 Detroit.

Elizabeth’s cousin Robert is a patient in the notorious Eloise Insane Asylum located outside of Detroit. He is now a murder suspect and Will and Elizabeth are determined to prove his innocence.

Will’s plan is to go undercover and investigate from the inside of Eloise. Bad move, Will. You didn’t figure on sadistic g
Wendy Hines
Jul 08, 2013 rated it really liked it

I've read other accounts of how patients were treated back in the day at asylums and it's horrific. Johnson doesn't shy away from the subject in Detroit Breakdown, and will, in fact, have readers frantically turning the page in this thrilling suspenseful installment.

Elizabeth is shocked when she finds out her cousin Robert has been accused of killing another patient. Robbie being a patient at Eloise Insane Asylum for most of his life. She is sure he is innocent and sets out to prove it. She ask
Michelle McGill-Vargas
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Detroit Breakdown is a slight detour from experiencing the infant auto industry in early 20th-century Detroit. This time, his hero, Will Anderson, gets himself committed to an insane asylum to clear the name Elizabeth Hume's cousin. Everything we know about Will, all of his flaws and temptations culminate in this book, taking the reader on a wild ride to find out how on earth he'll get out of this one.
While the reader can expect Johnson's vivid details, riveting historical information and humor,
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Based on Eloise Sanitorium- while it is fiction much of the background is historical. However it seems that some of the details are not accurate for that time period. I know campus martius did not exist then however perhaps that area was referred to as that but I doubt it. Some of the writing seemed confusing at times but for the most part it was a good read. It was confusing as to the characters past that was referenced throughout the story. Perhpas there is a prequeal.

Will and Elizabeth, who h
Paul Robinson
Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of this book and I can guarantee it doesn't disappoint. Half of the fun of Johnson's books is the fascinating, little-known detail from the times and places, as well as the characters inhabiting them. His research has really paid off in Detroit Breakdown.

Also, he really breathes fresh new life into an old concept - the investigating an insane asylum from the inside. I didn't think it was possible, but Johnson's Eloise Insane Asylum is a wonder. Like the
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I am a huge fan of D.E. Johnson and as such I have high expectations. And Johnson delivered with another great historical mystery, Detroit Breakdown (also received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly). Johnson added Elizabeth's point of view for this, the third book in the series, to great effect. The suspense ratchets up when Will has himself committed to an asylum to figure out who has been murdering patients and clear Elizabeth's cousin Robert who is being accused. Vivid description with ...more
Sep 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Before reading Detroit Breakdown by D.E. Johnson I had no idea this was the third book in the series. Now that I know, I have to read the first two books because I loved the third book. You can still follow Detroit Breakdown without having read the first two. There are a few instances where I think it would have helped to have read the first two books, but overall I was entertained.

It's 1912 Detroit when we meet Will Anderson and Elizabeth Hume. They are still rebuilding their relationship when
Diane Persky
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"Detroit Breakdown," the third of D.E. Johnson's trilogy ("The Detroit Electric Scheme" and "Motor City Shakedown") focuses more on the two main characters, and thus provides a satisfying read from a character standpoint, and continues to reveal the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Motor City circa 1910-1013. Horrifying insight into the workings of mental institutions is provided as Will and Elizabeth struggle in their families' lives and their own personal lives. For fans of "Phantom of the O ...more
Jan 26, 2013 rated it liked it
As a mystery, the plot doesn't disappoint, The twists and turns are engaging and hold the readers attention to the very end. As someone who lives in Detroit, the sense of place was very enjoyable.(My husband was born in the county hospital on the grounds where the story is set.) It was very clear that the author was a man, however. The character of Elizabeth, while interesting, often had thoughts and actions that just didn't seem believable. Having worked as a role player of early 20th century w ...more
Feb 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a first time reading this author. The books are semi historical and take place in 1910-1912 Detroit at the beginning of all the automotive business. This book takes place around a mental institute in Detroit called "Eloise" . At that time, mental patients were usually kept in institutions for their life. Murders are taking place there and being covered up.

This book is a series and I think this may be the third in the series, so I would like to get the first two in the series to read.
William Virgo
Oct 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
I thought this book started a little slower than the other two previous novels by D. E. Johnson. The action did pick up however, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think it is the best of the 3 thus far. I found myself wanting to tell Will, "What part of checking into a mental institution in 1912 is a good idea?"
I particularly enjoyed the references to State High in Kalamazoo. I was a member of the last graduating class of State High; more recently known as University High until it closed in 1966.
Nov 08, 2012 rated it really liked it

It was fascinating to read what Detroit and Kalamazoo were like in1912, was the year my mom was born in Detroit. they were driving around in an electric car, although horse and buggy were still around. There were no traffic lights or right of ways.The horrible treatments given at Eloise were used on patients if they were mentally sick or not. This mystery kept you guessing who the "phantom of the opera"was to the very end.
Dec 16, 2012 rated it liked it
I wound up reading this more for the period detail about Detroit and Kalamazoo 100 years ago and enjoyed that aspect of the book. The story was dark and rather tangled, somewhat wild-west-ish in the protagonists' efforts to seek justice and rsscue imperilled people, yet ultimately predictable. Reasonably entertaining but not in my top pantheon of mysteries/thrillers. I may look for more of Johnson's books for their Detroit themes, but they won't be a Grail.
Mar 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
Wish I could give this a 2.5. I liked reading about Eloise (having read Annie's Ghosts for the Great Michigan Read) and the treatment of mentally ill people in the early 1900's. But the murders at the end seemed to come a bit fast. Also some of the timing, events, escapes, etc. for the hero & heroine seemed implausible. I do think it will be interesting to hear from the author on April 30th when he comes to my library to talk about the history of Eloise. ...more
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the first book by this author that I've read. I love the time frame that it is set in and the slightly "creepy" factor as the story takes place in an insane asylum. I also love that it had a map which helps you to get a great mental picture when you read. I had a slow start but the ending was fantastic! A great read.
Jun 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
3rd in a series set in Detroit in the early days of the automobile industry. Will and Elizabeth have been through a lot. Born into "society", they have battled gangs, drugs, and all sorts of crime. In this one, Will is committed to an insane asylum, where a serial killer is on the loose. Gripping and over-the-top but believable. Hope there is another installment!
Oct 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book despite my original thoughts when I realized it was narrated by two different characters. I came away liking this book even more than the first two. I'm hoping book four follows quickly.
Lynette Eklund
May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cozy-mystery
It's great to read a period story that never stops to explain the culture of the era. The author simply puts the reader in the lives of the characters a goes! Great story; fun read. My only regret is in reading the series out of order. Now, I must find the first book and start at the beginning.
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D.E. (Dan) Johnson is the author of the Detroit-based Will Anderson historical mystery series, which includes The Detroit Electric Scheme (2010), Motor City Shakedown (2011), Detroit Breakdown (2012), and Detroit Shuffle (2013).

Dan is a history buff who has been writing fiction since childhood, but had to hit his midlife crisis to realize he should get serious about it. He and his wife, Shelly, ha

Other books in the series

Will Anderson (4 books)
  • The Detroit Electric Scheme
  • Motor City Shakedown
  • Detroit Shuffle

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