A Motor City shamus rankles powerful locals in his probe of a young woman’s murder.
It’s 1944, and segregated Detroit is trying to recover from a recent spate of race riots. When one-eyed ex-cop Pete Caudill gets a visit from his “Negro” friend Jonah Walker, his racist neighbors stop just short of physical violence in making known their displeasure. Walker wants to know what happened to his baby sister Felicia, whose body was found in the Cleveland plant of auto magnate Jasper Lloyd. He seeks help from sometime sleuth Caudill, who last year cleared the name of a wrongly accused black man at the height of the riots (The Devil’s Own Ragdoll, 2005). Caudill begins by visiting Lloyd, a frail, elderly figure who doesn’t seem to deserve his forbidding reputation. Caudill has a history with Lloyd. His conflicted feelings are complicated by the magnate’s offer of help and a car. Lloyd’s creepily overprotective secretary, James, and his menacing son, Whitcomb, further confuse the case and Caudill’s attitude. His unlikely new sidekick, Ray Federle, a neighbor and Boneyard shift worker at the Chrysler plant, is especially welcome after Caudill suffers a severe beating, a cue that he’s on the right track. The murder of another girl and the involvement of a muckraking reporter turn the heat up.
The ultra-dark noir sometimes gets lost in its brooding, but Caudill keeps the pages turning.