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The Detroit Electric Scheme

(Will Anderson #1)

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  448 ratings  ·  85 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 hyd

Hardcover, 312 pages
Published September 14th 2010 by Minotaur Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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Average rating 3.57  · 
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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Apr 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hawthorn Mineart
Dec 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015-read
Very problematic treatment of a gay character.
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
Sarah Rigg
Nov 26, 2018 rated it liked it
The mystery is set in Detroit in 1910 and mixes real-life figures like Edsel Ford and the Dodge brothers with fictional ones. At the beginning, Will, the son of a well-to-do electric car manufacturer, has become an alcoholic after his fiancee dumps him and ends up with his former best friend. The friend who stole his girl ends up dead in the factor, framing Will, and Will must solve the mystery and man up in the process. It was a fun novel to start 2016, but didn't live up to my expectations. Wo ...more
Sep 11, 2021 rated it liked it
The story was a 4 or a 5, but the writing is far too explicit and gruesome.

If you have a strong stomach and a fondness for turn of the 20th century Detroit (a major character in the story) this is the book for you.
Kirt Stalker
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Nice easy read with some great historical things involving the Detroit area. Enjoyed it.
Sep 26, 2019 added it
Did Not Finish
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
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
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Sep 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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, Leland¸Durant ¬–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 wast
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
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
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
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
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
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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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)
  • Motor City Shakedown
  • Detroit Breakdown
  • Detroit Shuffle

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