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The Detroit Electric Scheme

(Will Anderson #1)

by
3.58  ·  Rating details ·  370 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews

Will Anderson is a drunk, heartbroken over the breakup with his fiancée, Elizabeth. He's barely kept his job at his father's company---Detroit Electric, 1910's leading electric automobile manufacturer. Late one night, Elizabeth's new fiancé and Will's one-time friend, John Cooper, asks Will to meet him at the car factory. He finds Cooper dead, crushed in a huge hydraulic

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Hardcover, 312 pages
Published September 14th 2010 by Minotaur Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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Liz Crowe
Jun 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I had the extreme pleasure of hearing Mr. Johnson read the first chapter of this book at the Ann Arbor Book Fest, right after I read of bit of one of my books. I am even more honored now to know that I was alongside such a masterful storyteller as this.

I'm a bit of a Detroit history junkie myself and was eager to dive into this novel, which is set at the turn of century against a background of the emergence of the auto industry, including electric cars, and the unions. Will Anderson is one of
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Laura
May 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
I found this book while casually browsing the shelves of my local library - something I don't normally do, because I usually place books on hold and simply dash in and dash back out. There is a lot to be said for taking some time, wandering the shelves, and letting a book catch your eye based on nothing but its title and cover.

Corrupt judges and cops, fedoras and wool suits, disfiguring scars, jail, heroin addiction, homophobia, disturbing deaths, and a couple of very flawed main characters - al
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Jack
May 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
I ordered this book because it was supposed to be a good thriller/mystery taking place in 1910 Detroit.

Thriller? Mystery? Early Detroit? For me, these three things right away made The Detroit Electric Scheme a must read.

also included - electric cars - yes - there were electric cars in the early years of the 20th century. Unions. Gangsters. Drugs. Good cops and bad cops. A few murders.

The story itself is very good, very involved with some interesting twists and turns and the author D.E.Johnson h
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Ubiquitousbastard
Oct 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
I went into this not knowing at all what to expect. Honestly, I sort of thought there might be a bit of steampunk to it, something about the name sort of gave me that impression. It wasn't, however, just historical crime fiction.

Surprisingly, I really liked this book. The time period was interesting, as was the bits about early cars (especially the electrics), and it was all a bit noir which I've always been fond of. The romance caused me a little anxiety at first, until that got settled later
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Grace Shryock
Aug 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
D.E. Johnson's debut novel, The Detroit Electric Scheme, is an absolutely exhilarating ride through Detroit in the early 1900s. The main character, Will, gets caught up in quite a twisted situation. With the help of his good friends, he fights to find his way out of it. The way Johnson intertwines this fictional mystery into a real historical setting is breathtaking. The play between the fictional and non-fictional characters is completely believeable, and Johnson's descriptions of Detroit are s ...more
Debbi
Aug 23, 2016 rated it liked it
What I liked - Detroit in 1910 and all the local history. A decent plot and interesting characters.

What I didn't like - I personally dislike the 'protagonist falsely accused and has to prove their innocence'. It's been done too often. Thank goodness I didn't have to read through a court case - I hate those the most! Anderson got beat up way too much for my taste and just too abused by the police. And Wes, almost dies and is up and about in no time - not believable.

I haven't decided if I'll read
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Lisa
Dec 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Having grown up near Detroit, I was drawn in by the title of this book, and when I found out it was set in 1910, I couldn't wait to read it. I loved the descriptions of early Detroit, its streets, buildings, and residents. There was also a lot about the early auto barons, which is fascinating stuff.
I thought the mystery itself was well done, but the protagonist made a ridiculous number of unwise decisions. When he first found the body (not a spoiler, as it's the first sentence of the novel), he
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Nicole Mcbride
May 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is another author that is going to be speaking at a writer's workshop I was thinking about going to this summer and he is an author from Michigan. I am always looking for authors to read from my home state and was naturally intrigued.


From the very beginning of the book I was hooked. I thought initially that I was not going to like the main character Will Anderson, but he grew on me as I progressed through the pages. DE Johnson definitely did an amazing job with character development as well
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Kate
This book feels way longer than its 300-odd pages. And not in a good way.

It's not particularly well-written; the author has a habit of summarizing and glossing over scenes he probably shouldn't, only to turn around and linger on a multi-page description of how attractive certain female characters are. Because that, of course, is relevant to the plot. I was almost willing to forgive that, just because I hadn't realized how much I wanted to read a novel set in 1910s Detroit until I picked this one
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Gary Swartz
Aug 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Detroit Electric Scheme was very well written. There was a lot of character development. The main character, Will (William Anderson), changed his outlook on the murder of John Anthony Cooper throughout the book and that made it very believable. Also, Will’s lawyer, Mr. Sutton, has great character development. When Will is first charged with Cooper’s murder, Mr. Sutton tries to get him out of it; “Mr. Sutton paced around the interrogation room like a tornado-in front of me, behind me, in fron ...more
Jann Barber
Apr 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is the May selection for the library mystery book club. I like it so much that I've ordered a copy for my personal shelves, along with the next book in this series, Motor City Shakedown.

The author, D.E. Johnson, is speaking at one of the branches of our county library this Thursday as part of a program called Journeys. I hope to hear him speak.

According to his website, this is his first book. That is part of the reason for my 5 star rating. It kept my interest from the first page. The
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Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Detroit's been floating around the back of mind recently thanks to the rather fabulous Chrysler ads that feature the gorgeous, gritty architecture and landscape of the city once called the Paris of the Midwest.  When a tour opened for a mystery novel set in 1911 in the Motor City (this book's sequel), I couldn't resist, and being a stickler about reading things in order, I grabbed this book first so I could be good and immersed.

Set November of 1910, the novel opens with a grisly murder.  Told b
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Elizabeth
Jan 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
An interesting mystery that takes place in Detroit in 1910. As the fledgling auto industry begins to grow by leaps and bounds, Will Anderson, 22-year-old son of an auto tycoon, discovers a body brutally murdered in his own department at Detroit Electric. Cornered by the police, Will panics and runs and spends the next several weeks trying to find the killer and keep himself out of prison, deep in the seedy underbelly of the Motor City. I didn't like Will at first--he's a drunk and a spoiled play ...more
Debbie
Jul 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
THE DETROIT ELECTRIC SCHEME by D.E. johnson (Mystery Fiction, Historical, 1910s Detroit, Amateur Sleuth) 3.5 star rating

I began more impressed with this first in the series featuring Will Anderson, scion of one of Detroit’s leading electric car manufacturers, circa 1910, who by necessity turns detective.
The beginning of the book laid out lots of information about early electric cars and painted a vivid picture of the auto industry of the day.

But once the “mystery” was set up, I was disappointed
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Connie Faull
Jan 13, 2013 rated it liked it
This was a pretty good book. I'm from Detroit so I'm always interested in reading books by authors who are not only from Michigan but base their books here. Some times I did feel the book went off a little. The protagonist was a little hard to like - but his side kick, Wesley, was very likeable. Although together they were a little like the two stooges. It had some of the typical "stupid" decisions made by a literary characters who are under suspicion of a crime. But in the end - there is a twis ...more
Patty
Oct 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: readin11
I love learning something new about my home town, Detroit. D.E. Johnson's grandfather was the vice-president of Checker Motors and has a personal interest in the history of the automobile industry. The novel is his first and the main character makes me a bit frustrated by his stupidity. However, he manages to stay alive of course and the murder mystery keeps you involved and guessing. The list of fascinating characters include some real people from the early 1900's including a 17 year old Edsel ...more
Gram
Jan 19, 2014 rated it did not like it
Started off well then got itself bogged down in a lot of meaningless detail and the plot seemed to go nowhere. Characters were introduced for seemingly no reason other than to add historical names into a muddled mix of a story. In every other chapter there were pages of pointless descriptions - for example, 2 acts in a variety show were detailed over 3 or 4 pages for no other reason than the author was trying to show that he knew the period of which he was writing. Betweeen them the "hero" and h ...more
Alice
Sep 22, 2014 rated it liked it
D. E. Johnson The Detroit Electric Scheme
Pg. 40 Reference to Dr. Miller---“He shook his head. In his world, successful men were, for the most part, gentleman. In the new world of automatic manufacturing, the tycoons, Ford, the Dodges, LelandDurant ¬–were mechanics.

Pg. 62 Advertising – That afternoon, I crammed on board a streetcar, trying to ignore the irritating Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum advertisement. You couldn’t turn around without seeing some sort of advertising of this gum. Wrigley was wasti
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Steph (loves water)
Sep 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
Oh well, the story wasn't so great. Three stars, though, for the historical research and background of turn of the century Detroit. Props also for the Ford jokes ("a magnetized bumper to catch the parts when they fall off" LOL Some jokes are timeless!)

For a Detroit story I would probably do better with an Esteleman, however, the real main character here is the city of Detroit. I come from a line of eastern European immigrants and union men who settled in Detroit, so reading about a shallow, pri
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Karen
Aug 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"The Detroit Electric Scheme" is an early 20th century mystery that hits the ground running from page one and doesn't stop until the last page. Will Anderson is constantly stumbling in and out of trouble throughout. His actions build the intrigue of a great 'who done it'

I was fascinated by the history of the beginnings of the Detroit electric automobile industry which surround the mystery. As an avid reader of both history of the early 20th century and of great mystery stories, I certainly had t
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Anne
Sep 03, 2013 rated it liked it
I never knew that electric cars had already been invented way back in the early 1900's... They were considered cars for women because they did not have to be hand-cranked like the gasoline run automobiles.
A murder has occurred in the electric car plant owned by Will Anderson's family. Unfortunately it is the fiance of the woman who used to be engaged to Will. Obviously that makes him the prime suspect.
A good read set in historic Detroit during a fascinating era. Some characters are a bit stereo
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Ryan
Aug 26, 2015 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book most for its setting - Detroit in 1910, the heyday of the early automobile industry. In this regard, the book was great. It was well-researched, and the author did a good job setting the scene in the era. Independent of the historical context, though, the plot was just okay. I certainly felt suspense on numerous occasions, but the character development was pretty shallow. Overall, I'd suggest this book if you're interested in the setting (historic Detroit) but not necessarily ...more
Jean
Jul 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Another pretty good but not extraordinary book. The book is set in Detroit in 1910, so there's a lot of interesting stuff about the early auto industry and particularly electric cars. The story is told in the first person about Will Anderson, son of the owner of Detroit Electric Cars. Will finds a dead body and the police think he did it. He's also trying to help his ex-fiance who has jilted him for someone else. He gets some help from friends but keeps getting into trouble. The book was interes ...more
Bradley
Aug 13, 2010 rated it liked it
D.E. Johnson takes readers where few have been, to Detroit in 1910. From the very first page to the last chapter Johnson twists a murder mystery around the atmosphere of turn of the last century Motor City and through all of the layers of social strata. At the very beginning, the son of the founder of a promising Detroit electric car maker finds himself framed for the murder of the man to whom he lost his life's love. Social commentary, history and mystery all play a part in this imaginative and ...more
Adrian
Oct 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
Don't take my star rating as saying this is a horrible book, because it's not. It's just not my cup of tea. I only read it because a coworker had the book to borrow.
There were several things setting me up not to love this book.
1) I'm generally not a fan of 1st person POV books.
2) I like to be able to like the character whose head I'm in. I just didn't find Will Anderson to be very sympathetic. He made a turnaround by the end, but it was too long coming.
3) I'm not a "car person" per se and there
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Sherrie
Aug 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Detroit Electric Scheme is part historical fiction and part mystery. The story takes place during the early 1900's. The car industry is still in its infancy and corruption is rampant within the workplace in order to keep the unions out. Will Anderson, the story's protagonist is framed for murder of his former best friend and must race to uncover the real culprit before being thrown into prison for life. This mystery kept me guessing until the end. I was shocked when I discovered who the real ...more
Meg
Jan 26, 2013 rated it liked it
3.5 stars, maybe even 4. 1910 Detroit - busy wealthy industrial city (suffering from "short man syndrome" when comparing itself to New York City, ha) but also an impoverished immigrant town. The main character is Will Anderson, a 22 year old drunkard son of wealth and privilege. He is accused of murder, and the case looks strong against him. In trying to find the murderer, Will must grow up fast and figure out friend from enemy. Sequel out now, looking forward to it.
Lucy Coe
Jan 04, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a very interesting read. Aspects of the writing bugged me --and read text-bookish-- but I really ended up enjoying what turned out to be a very realistic-seeming mystery. It's slow moving but you're definitely rewarded in the end when everything comes together. Certainly interesting for those who enjoy learning about the automobile industry and turn of the century Detroit as well. AND, the author is from Kalamazoo so it's nice to read some local talent!!
Beth
Apr 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Suzanne Dalton
Sep 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
I also picked this one up at the library while looking for something else. It is a quick paced murder (gory) mystery, well-researched 1910 time period of Detroit's nascent auto industry. Featured believable fictional as well as actual characters, Edsel Ford, Kettering and Henry Leland. is a quick paced murder (gory) mystery. I enjoyed the historical accuracy of the history of the cars, the city street and the neighborhood descriptions. Good job.
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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
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Other books in the series

Will Anderson (4 books)
  • Motor City Shakedown
  • Detroit Breakdown
  • Detroit Shuffle