Minotaur, Sep 4 2012, $25.99
In 1912 in the Detroit area, the caller informs Elizabeth Hume that her cousin Robert Clarke, a lifelong resident of the Eloise Insane Asylum is suspected of murdering another patient. Elizabeth tries to speak with her cousin, but is told no since Robbie is being kept in solitary confinement as this is the fourth person murdered by the Phantom using the “Punjab lasso”.
She asks her friend P. I Will Anderson to help. Elizabeth volunteers at the facility in order to prove her Robbie is innocent. Will pretends to suffer from amnesia so he is committed as a patient at Eloise Hospital. As the two along with Police Detective Riordan investigate the serial killings, Will learns what it is like to be a helpless patient with no champion to protect him from the abuse and abasement of the staff.
With a reminder of the need for vigilance to protect those most helpless (think of Willowbrook in the 1960s), Detroit Breakdown is a powerful dark historical noir. Fast-paced from the moment Will enters the asylum, readers will be shocked by the treatment he receives. The serial killer inquiry is superb, but it is the conditions at the Eloise Insane Asylum that grips the audience as D.E. Johnson provides another superb Anderson Motor City Shakedown (see Anderson Electric Car).