September 1, 2021 Post # 70

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

 Quote for the Day: "When they were stumped in ancient Greece, they went to the oracle of Delphi. At Lourdes they take the waters, and I suppose in Akron they go down and watch tires being made. In Detroit, where we put the world on wheels or did anyway until the Japanese and Yugoslavs and the Brits rolled in, when our brains slip into neutral we lay rubber on the road and hit the gas." Loren Estleman. Sweet Women Lie. 1990.


Warn Me When It's Time by Cheryl A. Head.

After reading two of Head's mysteries I have come to believe she is Detroit's most underappreciated mystery writer. A Detroit native now living in Washington D.C. the author knows her native city intimately. The Charlie Mack mysteries are gritty and tightly plotted procedural detective novels. They are realistic, timely, and boasts a private eye who stands apart from the usual stereotypes.

The novel is set during the Obama administration and deals with the rise of White supremacy groups and hate crimes due to the election of a Black man as president. In Detroit, White supremacists have repeatedly gotten away with vandalizing mosques, and Black churches. When an attack on a Moslem Mosque results in the death of a highly respected imam and police fail to make progress in their investigation the imam's family hire the Mack Agency to find the killer.  The Mack group, led by a black lesbian, cooperate with the police and ID the killer. They also uncover evidence that suggests several supremacist groups are planning a massive attack against a major Detroit religious landmark. Impressed with the agency's work the FBI enlists Charlie Mack and her crew to help stop the attack.

The result is a mystery that relentlessly builds in suspense to the last gripping pages. Charlie Mack and her crew are fully rounded, very likable, and interesting characters who work as a team, while Detroit is deftly portrayed in all its grand, bi-polar disorder. Critical to this book's success is the realistic plot that will have readers recalling the inexorable growth, over the past dozen years, of hate groups and their increasing threat to our democracy. You don't just read this book, you gulp it down.

Warn Me When It's Time: A Charlie Mack Motown Mystery by Cheryl A. Head. Bywater Books, 2021, $16.95.  

The Cut by John Wemlinger.

If I'm counting correctly this is the author's fifth novel and his first historical novel. Wemlinger lives in Onekama on the north shore of Portage Lake. In 1870 Portage Lake's lone outlet to Lake Michigan was a small creek on which a lumber king had built a water-powered sawmill. The owner dammed the creek to raise the water level insuring the mill could operate. But the dam also raised the water level on Portage Lake and farmers bordering the lake watched their acreage disappear as the water  rose. The farmers tried every legal means to have the dam removed. When the lumber baron remained unmoved the farmers picked up shovels and dug an outlet between the two lakes permanently lowering the water level. The outlet still exists and has made Portage Lake a harbor of refuge. Wemlinger was approached by locals to write a historical novel based on the David and Goliath struggle leading to the channel's creation. 

The result is both a dramatic account of the how and why the cut was created and a masterful novel of the life, times, and changes wrought by the Civil War. As in all of  Wemlinger's books the narrative is character driven. Alvin who lost an arm in the Civil War runs a farm on Portage Lake with his father and a Black Civil War vet who Alvin treats as a brother. They are among the leaders of the effort to remove the dam. On a trip into town Alvin meets, or collides with Lydia on a sidewalk. There is an immediate attraction and a budding romance turns into an unbreakable bond. Lydia's father refuses to approve of his daughter seeing a farmer or even considering Lydia's desire to attend college. The reader can't help but become involved with these well-drawn characters and care what happens to them.

The story of the cut is well done. But what kept me glued to the book was the accurate and fascinating story of the life of a Michigan farm family in 1870. Equally interesting was the description of women and their power within the household and near powerlessness in the business and commercial world even as women were on the threshold of changing their status. As in all his books, Wemlinger sensitively portrays war veterans as honorable men who have returned from war to face new challenges in both private and public life. Every book I've read by this author I thought deserved consideration for inclusion on Michigan's Notable Books List and none made it. If this book fails to warrant inclusion on the list it's more than just a regrettable omission. 

The Cut by John Wemlinger. Mission Point Press, 2021, $17.95.

Sea Stacks: The Collected Stories of J. L. Hagen by J. L. Hagen.

The author grew up in St. Ignace and nearly all of the stories found between  the covers of Hagen's first book take place in and around the Straits of Mackinac area, with the fictional town of Loyale standing in for the author's real hometown. Place matters in these stories and one way or another influences and reflects the way of life in the area and bends characters' development the same way an unrelenting wind can shape the direction in which trees grow.

Where else would a young man woe a beautiful, downstate young woman with a dinner of planked whitefish and a climb to the top of a sea stack. For the uninitiated, the latter are natural limestone pillars that are common in the area and one of the tallest has long been a tourist attract a few miles north of the Straits on I-75. Admittedly the longer short stories are my favorites because they permit more character development and allow most characters to dig a deeper pit from which to extract themselves.

Hagen's short stories are a lot like life, they go off in unexpected directions. The young man counting on whitefish encircled by mashed potatoes broiled on a board and the climbing of a sea stack to win the heart of beautiful woman runs into some unexpected romance killers. My favorite story follows a husband who's a bit of a dim bulb, dislikes dogs, and doesn't quite understand it is his wife who wears the pants in the family. His Achilles heel is that he believes he is a great deal maker whether it's for a Beagle puppy or a new refrigerator. Instead he is the kind of fellow P. T. Barnun said was born every minute. It's always nice to welcome a new and talented Michigan author to the public.  

Sea Stacks: The Collected of Stories of J. L. Hagen by J. L. Hagen. Keypounder Books, 2020, $8.95.

Incentives: The Holy Water of Free Enterprise by George Franklin.

I grinned on page one and laughed out loud on page three, twice. The laughs continue throughout this wildly hilarious satire aimed at every group, person, and company gorging themselves at the government trough on projects that simply line their own pockets. The schemes Franklin's characters think up to bilk money from the government are outrageous, hilarious, and at times so uncomfortably close to reality you wince while you're laughing. For me, that is the mark of satire of the highest order. 

There's the character who after reading the Cliff Notes of a former president's book on the art of deal making learned "factual hyperbole' ---- used to be called lying, now [it's] just part of good negotiations." The CEO of an energy company preaches, "Those who see pollution as a problem don't understand the creation of wealth." Then there's the Smith & Wesson ad campaign, "Shoot First, Then Ask." The author, a former Vice President of Worldwide Government Relations for the Kellogg Company, worked at securing economic incentives both abroad and in the U.S. He has evidently seen more than his share of hypocrisy. 

Two of my favorite satirical schemes for obtaining government incentives include a church that wants government money in order to pump water from Lake Michigan, bless it, and then spray it from crop dusters for the purpose of stopping "godless foreign terrorists." The other is the creation of "Let Them Eat Cake," a personal shopping service that helps wives of Texas oil barons search out enormously expensive clothes and jewelry the less fortunate (read Middle Class) can't and never will be able to afford. 

This is an outrageous, biting, and seriously funny novel in which laughter harpoons the great white whale of hypocrisy that is too often inherent in American politics, business, education, and society.

Incentives: The Holy Water of Free Enterprise by George Franklin. FPA Books, 2020, $14.95.

Any of the books reviewed in this blog may be purchased by clicking your mouse on the book's cover which will take you to Amazon where you can usually purchase the book at a discount. By using this blog as a portal to Amazon and purchasing any product helps support Michigan in Books.

August 1, 2021 Post # 69

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Quote for the Day: "As a place of resort during the summer months, there can be none more desirable -- none possessing more attractive features and health-restoring influences, than this Island of Mackinaw." New York Weekly Tribune. July 9, 1853.


The Dockporter: A Mackinac Novel: by Dave McVeigh and Jim Bolone.

One of the iconic images of  Mackinac Island is of the young men who wait the arrival of tourist laden ferries and stack an unbelievable number of tourists' suitcases on their single-speed bikes. They then pedal their precarious loads through streets clogged with fudgies (tourists) and horse-drawn wagons to hotels and inns. Or as the authors write, "In India, they call them coolies. On Everest, Sherpas. On Mackinac Island they're called dockporters." The authors of this entertaining and engaging novel were both dockporters in the late 1980s and this unique novel describes life on the island as lived and seen through the eyes of these young men who turned hauling luggage into a circus act.

As a kid, Jack McQuinn spent every summer on Mackinac Island, at his grandfather's cottage. His greatest goal was to become a dockporter which he achieved in the 1980s. He revels in the job and loves the comradery and sense of humor of his fellow dockporters. He also loves the island and the Straits of Mackinac with all its charm, beauty, and singular way of life. The authors describe the place uniquely but accurately as "an area electrified with strange magic." Best of all, the book captures the "strange magic" and brings Mackinac Island, as seen by those who work there, wonderfully alive. 

Yet there is a black cloud on the horizon that threatens the island's future. It is up to Jack and his fellow porters to save the one of a kind island. In the process, Jack falls in love, losses his job, attempts to beat the dockporter record of stacking more than 21 pieces of luggage on his bike, and getting them to a hotel. He also stumbles across a passion that he just might make into a career.

The book is a delight to read. It is filled with humor, strangely wonderful characters  including a man with a shovel who cleans up horse leavings on the streets. It turns out he knows a lot more about Mackinac Island than just horse apples. Almost every page delivers a grin and many produce laugh-out-loud guffaws. The best news is this is the first in the series on the island. On behalf of this reader, more please, much, much more.

The Dockporter: A Mackinac Island Novel by Dave McVeigh and Jim Bolone. Privately Published, 2021, $12.95.

Prohibition's Proving Ground: Cops, Cars, & Rumrunners in the Toledo-Detroit-Windsor Corridor by Joseph Boggs. 

Michigan went dry on May 1, 1918, more than a full year before Prohibition became the law in the rest of the nation. Our state therefore became a testing ground for the enforcement of making, selling, and smuggling booze. The nearly complete failure by Michigan to stop all the above, as seen through this study of enforcement in the Windsor, Detroit, and Toledo triangle, did not bode well for the Volstead Act. Worst still (pun intended) it seems little was learned from Michigan's failure. This scholarly but very readable and always interesting study sheds new light on the prohibition era in southeast Michigan. 

In the first few days after Michigan went dry Detroiters swarmed Toledo and nearby Ohio towns and drank until oblivion. Incidents of drunk driving exploded in Monroe and being a pedestrian was life threatening. Within a few weeks amateur rumrunners were creating traffic jams in Monroe and on Dixie Highway which ran between Detroit and Monroe. When the state supreme court briefly ruled that police could neither search nor seize alcohol from cars it ignited a "Booze Rush."  In Monroe 390 cars an hour, sagging under their loads of alcohol, were counted passing through town.

The author credits a major contribution to the failure of Prohibition in southeast Michigan and across the country to Americas' new love affair with the automobile and the growing demand for better roads. Dixie Highway between Toledo and Detroit would often turn into a muddy morass but when it was paved it became a high-speed hooch pipeline to Detroit. While the rumrunners were driving souped-up cars the police called "Whiskey Sixes" some cops were trying to halt smugglers from horseback. A fascinating chapter chronicles Henry Ford taking the enforcement of Prohibition into his own hands. He made employees pass a sniff check on entering his factories and hired private detectives to identify stills and blind pigs near his plants.

The book is marked by solid research and very good writing, except for the over-used term automobilized including "fully automobilized holdup men, automobility enabled thugs," and even "automobilized trucks." This automobilized blogger raises a glass to this fine book.

Prohibition's Proving Grounds: Cops, Cars, & Rumrunners in the Toledo-Detroit-Windsor Corridor by Joseph Boggs. University of Toledo Press, 2020, $24.95.

Manistee County: Postcard History Series by Emma Wolf and the Musculus Family.

I haven't browsed a bookstore in Michigan without finding a title or two of the Postcard History Series on the store's local history shelves. The series all follow the same format with the pages filled with interesting and often arresting historical photos of a city or county. Accompanying each postcard photo is an explanation of the postcard's subject including the date or era of the card, and the importance and history of the subject to the community. Some of the descriptive explanations are only a few sentences others are lengthy paragraphs.

This volume of the series is no different. It includes more than 150 postcards with photos dating from 1842 to the early 20th Century of people, streets, buildings, geographical features, towns, industries, and churches of the county. All of which are followed by succinct and interesting explanations that place the subject of the postcard within the history of the county. The book is a painless and always interesting introduction to the history of Manistee County. I've often wondered about the economic viability of the series with each book in the series aimed at such a narrow market. But what do I know, new additions to the series continue to roll off the press.

Manistee County: Postcard History Series by Emma Wolf and the Musculus Family. Arcadia Publishing, 2021, $21.95.

Tales From the Jan Van: Lessons on Life & Camping by Jan Stafford Kellis.

The author's well-ordered and happy life collapsed like a house of cards when she was 45-years old. Out of the blue her beloved second husband asked for a divorce, her mother died suddenly, and her youngest daughter left home to join her sister in Alaska. 

Stunned, bewildered and hurting the author was struck by a sign in a her friend's house that read: "Enjoy yourself! It's later than you think." One of her dreams was to travel around the country with her husband after retirement. She made up her mind she wasn't going to let tragedy and loss dictate the course of her life and inspired by the sign she bought a used, self-contained camping van. Combining long, three-day weekends by working four 10-hour a days a week and her vacation time she set out to explore the Midwest from her U.P. home and travel across America as a solo female RVer.   

A by product of her RV adventures is this winning trifecta of a book. It is a detailed  travelogue of her adventures, a memoir, and a sensible how-to guide to camping and motorhoming. Most importantly it is a story of self-empowerment as she overcomes her worries about traveling alone, grows more assertive, and learns the habits, foibles, and personality of  her finicky small motorhome that has a mixed pedigree involving Mercedes, Freightliner, and Dodge. Technicians from all three companies couldn't figure out some her van's mechanical oddities. The narrative even touches on the history of camping in Michigan when the author reveals that Henry Ford and Thomas Edison used to go camping together, in a Ford of course.

As an ex-motorhome owner, I can attest to the author's fine job of sharing the joys and occasional miseries of camping, and how at times a motorhome can seem more complicated and intricately complex than the vehicle Neil Armstrong rode to the moon. But you don't have to be a camper or an RVer to enjoy this open, honest, and compelling travelogue and memoir.

Tales from the Jan Van: Lessons on Life and Camping by Jan Stafford Kellis. Myrno Moss Perspectives, 2021, $14.95.

Any of the books reviewed in this blog may be purchased by clicking your mouse on the book's cover which will take you to Amazon where you can usually purchase the book at a discount. By using this blog as a portal to Amazon and purchasing any product helps support Michigan in Books.


July 2021 Post #68

Thursday, July 1, 2021

 Quote for the day: "Growing up in northern Michigan, I got to know insects intimately. I prided myself on my ability to tolerate gnats and black flies... But I have never seen mosquitoes like those that rose that day from the weeds and grasses along the Fox River. ...even when I sprayed the aerosol directly at them they scarcely altered their flight. They absorbed the poison and developed genetic immunity right before my eyes." Jerry Dennis. A Place on the Water. 1993.

Turn to News and Views for the 2nd Annual U. P. Notable Books List as chosen by the U.P. Publishers & Authors Association.


Maniac: The Bath School Disaster and the Birth of the Modern Mass Killer by Harold Schechter.

In the days prior to May 18, 1927 Andrew Philip Kehoe, an elected member of the Bath School Board and the board's treasurer packed over 500 pounds of dynamite into the newly opened Bath consolidated school's basement and subflooring. The school housed all Bath students from kindergarten through 12th grade and on the 18th Kehoe's improvised detonator triggered the dynamite to explode under one wing of the school. The wing collapsed killing 38 children in addition to several adults. Schechter presents a fast moving, highly detailed reconstruction of the crime and even explains how and why the horrendous bombing in Bath, Michigan so quickly disappeared as headline news.  

The dynamiting of the Bath School still ranks as the most deadly school attack in US history. But Kehoe wasn't finished. The gentleman farmer who plowed his fields in a suit and shined shoes killed all his livestock and set the barn on fire, then killed his wife and torched their house with her body inside. He then packed his truck with more explosives and drove to the bombed school where distraught parents, firemen, and police were working to free children from the the school's wreckage. Kehoe parked near the collapsed wing and waved the school superintendent over to his truck. When the superintendent walked up to the truck Kehoe blew both of them and the truck to kingdom come. The explosion wounded people a block away. When police inspected the basements under the school's other wings, they found them packed with explosives. By some miracle, the detonator failed to set off those explosives.  

The obvious question is what drove Kehoe to be a mass murderer of children? The author tries his best to answer that question. His neighbors thought him a solid citizen. The author writes that Kehoe avoided intimacy, had a mean streak, and suffered occasional bouts of paranoia. He was also a penny-pinching skinflint who was distressed at the increased taxes needed to finance the new school. This book may well stand as the definitive work on the Bath School bombing. Yet even after reading it I find it impossible to comprehend the level of evil, insanity, or cruelty it took to commit this heinous act.  The book is both very compelling and painfully sad.

Maniac: The Bath School Disaster and the Birth of the Modern Mass Killer by Harold Schechter. Little A. 2021. $24.95.

The Crooked Angel: A Burr Lafayette Mystery by Charles Cutter

Cutter's mysteries featuring attorney Burr Lafayette should come with the clearly stated warning that they are hopelessly addictive. The author has the knack of drawing readers into his mysteries with such ease they don't realize until its far too late that even a writ of habeas corpus will not release them from the book until the final page is turned. Burr is not a criminal lawyer and only occasionally and reluctantly represents accused murderers. In the present case, his girlfriend talks Burr into defending Brian, her sister's husband, who is accused of murdering his first wife. The trial takes place in Petoskey before a cantankerous judge and a prosecutor who hopes a conviction will launch his political career.

Lafayette is sure there is something odd going on because Brian is being charged with murdering his first wife six years after her death was ruled accidental. His girlfriend, her sister, and the accused all have trouble with the truth and adding to Lafayette's complications in representing Brian is a prosecutor who puts winning before the rule of law. The novel features a captivating courtroom drama full of striking twists and turns, great repartee, wonderfully odd characters, and a stunning denouement all played out against the beautifully drawn backdrop of the Little Traverse Bay area. 

Burr's law partner claims Burr is, "half a step short of brilliant." The same could be said of this fourth in the series featuring Burr Lafayette who is not a half step short of being an utterly fascinating character. As always, a Charles Cutter mystery is grand entertainment.

The Crooked Angel: A Burr Lafayette Mystery by Charles Cutter. Mission Point Press, 2021, $16.95. 

U. P. Reader: Bringing Upper Michigan Literature to the World, Volume 5 Deborah K. Frontiera and Mikel B. Classen, editors. 

It's always a good day when I find a copy of the U. P. Reader in my mailbox. The annual collection of short stories, poems, memoirs, and essays, penned by Michiganders living north of Big Mac can be counted on to entertain, enlighten, and often surprise readers.

I especially enjoyed a how-to guide to squirrel hunting that is wonderfully bizarre and wacky yet told in convincing detail. The author, among other things, attempts to thoroughly explain why you should hunt barefoot, the correct place to relieve oneself in the woods, and recommends throwing back a cheap shot of whiskey instead of coffee before a hunt. The author advances the revolutionary theory that at the heart of squirrel hunting is killing time. I always look forward to Larry Buege's reporting on the efforts to officially recognize the Amorous Spotted Slug (A.S.S.) as the state slug and as a special bonus he brings in Professor Toivo Rantamkis to explain how the sex life of the A.S.S. is unique in the animal world. And don't skip "Your Obit" in which a woman  explains what she will and will not include in her best friend's obituary. 

The book is a tribute to Michigan's Upper Peninsula and its people. From the funny and wise to the profound it is a wonderful example of the degree to which the U.P., with its rugged beauty and often hard-scrabble living, inspires authors or makes authors out of those who live there. I was tempted to say the above three pieces that I mentioned were not to be missed, but in all fairness that goes for every offering found between the covers of this unique publication. To paraphrase an old potato chip commercial, open the book at random and I bet you can't stop reading at just one. 

U.P. Reader: Bringing Upper Michigan Literature to the World, edited by Deborah K. Fontiera and Mikel B. Classen. Upper Peninsula Publishers and Authors Association. 2021, $17.95.

Tales of the Police: The Wild and the Sad by Brit Weber

The author became a Michigan State Trooper in 1970 and retired in 1998. This is a lively and always interesting collection of stories from the author's 28-year career. What comes shining through on nearly every story is Weber's justifiable pride in wearing the uniform, the engrained philosophy of service, and the high expectations of professionalism officers are held to.

The stories range from wild car chases, pursuing armed robbers, handling domestic disputes that threaten to turn deadly, to a memorable account of a call to a campground in which a crazed camper was raising hell. The latter turned out to be a one-legged drunk who managed on only one foot to make his escape from two state cops. The job is obviously dangerous and stressful and it seems that the state troopers way of handling some of the stress is to pull pranks on fellow officers. They range from a baby skunk slipped into a trooper's car while he is eating to calling a radio station and nominating the post commander as secretary of the day. The man was more than chagrined when the radio station sent him flowers and several times during the day announced he was the secretary of the day. It wasn't until the commander's retirement that the author admitted he was the prankster.

  The author spent five years investigating child abuse cases. In addition to being tragic and sad the author describes how careful, thorough, and sensitively each case had to be handled. The author was relentless in uncovering enough evidence to make an arrest and protect a child from more abuse. After five years Weber had had enough and asked for a transfer to another assignment.  At the end of most chapters the author names officers who earned awards for going above and beyond the call of duty to make arrests or save a life. Included are the official citations that describe the action for which the officer received the award.

This book is both a tribute to the Michigan State Police and a moving account of what I gather  are typical experiences of a career in the MSP. The cover below will only take you to the ebook edition. Hard copy buyers need to go to Amazon or a local bookstore.

Tales of Police Work: The Wild and the Sad by Brit Weber. Privately published, 2020, $9.99

Any of the books reviewed in this blog may be purchased by clicking your mouse on the book's cover which will take you to Amazon where you can usually purchase the book at a discount. By using this blog as a portal to Amazon and purchasing any product kelps support Michigan in Books.

June 2021 Post # 67

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

 Quote for the day: "Detroit is a city on wheels. I would go so far as to say of Detroit that even its buildings somehow give the impression of being parked rather than rooted in the ground." R. I. Deffus. Detroit Free Press. May 10,1931.

Important  Notice

The service that handled automatic emailing of this blog to followers and subscribers has eliminated that service. The blog signed on to "" to continue to provide this service. Followers and subscribers will get an email from asking if you still want to automatically receive this blog and if so click to do so. Or, you can just re subscribe to the blog now. My apologies if you didn't get Michigan in Books automatically and/or wondered why you were getting an email from I understood this change was going to be seamless to regular readers but obviously wasn't. You can also click on News & Views (to the right) for an explanation of the blog makeover and its new features.


Dead of Winter by Stephen Mack Jones

This the third of the author's novels featuring August Snow, an ex-Detroit cop turned private detective, has established Mr. Jones as a major league mystery writer. He belongs on the shelf alongside Detroit's other peerless mystery writers Loren Estleman and Elmore Leonard.

In Jones' latest, August Snow (a wonderfully oxymoronic name) is called to an old friend's death bed. The man owns a prosperous business in Detroit's Mexicantown neighborhood and wants Snow to buy the company. The dying man has a daughter who wants the business but the owner knows she would sell it, say goodbye to the Motor City, and leave his loyal employees without jobs. Then there is an offer from a group of nameless millionaires who want to buy the building, tear it down, and begin the gentrification of Mexicantown. To insure success the group is trying to blackmail the owner into selling. Snow doesn't want to buy the business but doesn't want to see his neighborhood gentrified so he agrees to look into who's behind this nameless blackmailing group. 

When Snow starts digging he finds ten million dollars have gone missing and the ghost buyers believe Snow has it and they will kill to get it back. The plot moves as fast as Snow's 1968 Oldsmobile 442 and has as many sharp turns and switchbacks as a Formula One Grand Prix. Readers need to buckle up on page one and hold on for the ride. In addition to a can't put down narrative the author also creates sentences and dialogue Raymond Chandler would envy and readers will want to highlight. Such as: "Isn't having a Catholic convention in Vegas a little like preaching abstinence in a brothel," or "Here's what's syncopating, vibrating and oscillating in the air these days in your neck of the woods:"

  This is another potential mystery award winner, and the series is under development as a TV program. Lastly, Detroit is a major character in this novel and page for page is pure entertainment.


The Dead of Winter by Stephen Mack Jones. Soho Press, 2021, $27.95.

River Love: The True Story of a Wayward Sheltie, a Woman, and a Magical Place called Rivershire by Tricia Frey

Some 20 miles south of Traverse City on the Boardman River the author and her sister found a piece of property that on first sight they thought of as a mystical place, a sanctuary. Inspired by JRR Tolkien they bought and named their new home Rivershire. The sanctuary on the Boardman soon proved it was all the sisters hoped for. Rivershire's peaceful and infectious beauty changed lives and fostered an extraordinary and profound bonding between the author and a stray dog. 

The sisters had hardly taken up residence on the banks of the Boardman when they became aware of a stray and badly matted Sheltie hanging around their property. Tricia began putting out food for the extremely shy animal. The dog ate the handouts every night but wouldn't let either sister come anywhere near him. They turned an old shed into a doghouse which the stray adopted as his home. With unbelievable patience and unbridled kindness it took two years before the dog allowed the author to touch him. It took months longer before she could get the dog to come in the house. Tricia named the dog Sheldon and in this deeply moving memoir she details the incredible trust and devotion that developed between the two of them. The author believes Sheldon made her a better person. In the eight years Sheldon spent at Rivershire he touched and brightened many lives. 

If Tricia's and Sheldon's devotion to each other is the center piece of this memoir the author also does a wonderful job of capturing the beauty and ambience of northern Michigan and especially the magic of the Boardman River area. She believes there are places in our state so special that they heal people both mentally and physically, as well as quiet the worried or anxious mind. I can't argue the point because I have experienced the same feeling in a handful of very special and highly cherished up north locations. 

This is an honest and beautiful book and long after his passing Sheldon continues to touch and brighten lives through this heartfelt book.

River Love: The True Story of a Wayward Sheltie and a Women, and a Magical Place called Rivershine by Tricia Frey. Mission Point Press, 2020, $15.01.

Kalamazoo County and the Civil War by Gary L. Gibson

In 1860, Kalamazoo County had a population of 24,746 of which 3,321 fought in the Civil War and 396 of those men died to preserve the Union. This readable, informative, and all too brief  book succeeds in recounting the impact the Civil War had on both the men who went to war and those who were left at home.

The author gives a short history of the county and its early opposition to slavery that included a thriving Underground Railroad. The county was strongly Republican and supported the war from the first day. Regiments that held boot camps at Kalamazoo or accepted companies raised in Kalamazoo County receive brief histories that include a list of battles in which the regiment took part. The efforts on the home front include a nice tribute to Kalamazoo' Ladies Aid Society.

As if foreshadowing the many tragic deaths to come in the next four years Kalamazoo's first Civil War casualty occurred when a private caught a cold. The cold turned deadly, and the young man died before his company was even mustered into service. Because the company hadn't officially been enlisted into military service it wasn't until years after the war that records were changed to include the above soldier as a war casualty. One chapter in the book is dedicated to recounting the often-unique stories of individual soldiers. A surprising long chapter covers the post war years in Kalamazoo and the book concludes with a complete list of Kalamazoo County soldiers who never made it home alive. 

Although limited in scope, the book should attract the attention of those interested in the county's history or as an example of how Michigan's small rural communities sacrificed and contributed to saving the Union.

Kalamazoo County and the Civil War by Gary L. Gibson. History Press, 2021, $21.99

The Mason House: A Memoir by T. Marie Bertineau

The author was born and spent a good portion of her childhood in and around the Keweenaw Peninsula. Her mother was a Chippewa Indian and her father was part French Canadian and part Cornish miner. She lost her father at so early an age she could barely remember him.  
Her mother remarried and although the author liked her step father the marriage was plagued by alcoholism, bitter arguments, and screaming fights. The wrong look, word, or attitude could set her mother off like a rocket blowing up on the launch pad.

The author obviously had an unstable childhood and her gramma's house (The Mason House) was like a safe port in a storm. Her gramma was her anchor but that sanctuary vanished when  she died while the author was still a young girl. The family was so poor the author attended her gramma's funeral wearing someone else's used clothes. The family often had little to eat and one night it came down to cornmeal mush. After gramma's death the family became wanderers with stops in West Virginia, Texas, and Oklahoma.

In spite of all of the above, this honest, beautifully written, and moving memoir is one of hope, not despair. Against all odds the family and the author found peace and gratifying success after years of struggle. Her mother quit drinking and went to college. The author married, hand two children, and also graduated from college. Reconnecting with their Native American roots, traditions, beliefs, and community played a large part in rebuilding the author's and her family's lives and healing their souls.

This inspiring memoir is a testament to the author's and her family's courage and perseverance in the long struggle to better their lives. It also unveils a frank and disturbing picture of the formidable hurdles Michigan's Native Americans face in order to make a meaningful, and minimally comfortable life for themselves and their families. 

The Mason House: A Memoir by T. Marie Bertineau. Lanternfish Press, 2020, $18.00

Any of the books reviewed in this blog may be purchased by clicking your mouse on any book's cover which will take you to Amazon where you can usually purchase the book at a discount. By using this blog as a portal to Amazon and purchasing any product helps support Michigan in Books.

May 1, 2021 # 66

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Quote for the day: "... those who have never seen Superior get an inadequate idea, by hearing it spoken of as a 'lake,' and to those who have sailed over its vast extent the word sounds ludicrous." Reverend George Grant, the diarist of an 1872 expedition on the lake. 


Lucy Greene by Richard VanDeWeghe

This is the author's second novel in a planned trilogy on the Traverse City State Hospital. VanDeWeghe clearly intends the series to both cover the history of the institution in addition to reviewing and portraying the care given to patients in mental asylums through the years. The novel is set in 1963 and the heart of the story revolves around the embrace of new wonder drugs and their unchecked overmedication by physicians caring for mentally ill patients.

Sister Lucy Greene and her dear friend Sister Anna belonged to the religious order the Society of Saint Joseph. The Sisters of St. Joseph were committed to fighting social injustice. The two friends took teaching jobs in Black schools in the South and joined the Freedom Riders who attempted to integrate inter-state buses. Their first Freedom Ride resulted in Sister Anna being raped and nearly beaten to death. 

Sister Anna never mentally recovered from her ordeal. She suffered horrible headaches, and by turns was near comatose then suffered fits of raving madness. Sister Lucy arranged for her friend to enter the Traverse City State Hospital and Lucy became a patient advocate there. Sister Lucy quickly becomes concerned with the use of drugs that left her friend in a vegetative state. She becomes more concerned when she learns the drug prescribed for Sister Anna was created to treat schizophrenia. The result is a growing argument and difference in philosophy of treatment between Sister Lucy and the hospital's head doctor. The hospital's head nurse encourages the Sister's inquiry into over medication. She tells Sister Lucy the hospital in the past relied on human interaction, art, music, and giving the patients meaningful work and handicrafts as a significant part of their therapeutic care. The head nurse laments that humanistic care has become chemical care.

The bulk of the book focuses on the argument between Sister Lucy and the head doctor over the use of drugs that leave Sister Anna free of symptoms as well as any connection to the conscious world. The author does a good job of fully exploring and explaining the growth in the 1960s of the use of new drugs in the treatment of psychiatric patients. The novel is full of footnotes that further highlight the  conflict over different treatments. They also contain surprising historical footnotes such as it wasn't until 1951 that a federal law gave only doctors the power to prescribe medicine. The only minor complaint found in this novel is that some of the characters serve as not much more than mouthpieces for one or the other side of the argument. The book reflects the current issues concerning over prescription of painkillers and Big Pharma's questionable promotion practices and encouragement of doctors to push painkillers.


Lucy Greene by Richard VanDeWeghe. Mission Point Press, 2020, $16.76

Cady and the Bear Necklace by Ann Dallman

As her name suggests, thirteen-year-old Cady Whirlwind Thunder is of Native American descent and she has experienced a tumultuous past twelve months. Her father at 55 married a 24-year-old woman. Cady has a new baby brother, the family moved back to the U.P. from Minnesota, and dad enrolled her, for the first time ever, in a reservation school. The move and the new school take Cady, and the reader lucky enough to open this book, into a fascinating deep dive into Native American culture and a perplexing mystery.

One day at school Cady finds an eagle feather dropped by someone in the hall. She takes the feather to the school principal who tells her she has just performed an act of honor by picking up the eagle feather and it signifies she may soon stumble across a mystery. Within days Cady discovers a beautiful necklace someone hid under her bedroom floor. She is very curious why and how the necklace was hidden in her bedroom but every time she asks a elder of the tribe about the necklace they are reluctant to talk about it. On a trip back to Minnesota she discovers her grandmother is part of the mystery when Cady is shown an old photograph in which her grandma is standing next to a young woman wearing the necklace. Her grandmother tells her she didn't find the necklace, the necklace found her and sends Cady back to the U.P. with even more desire to find the truth.

Cady is a beautifully drawn and very likeable character. Readers will feel lucky to have found Cady and accompanied her on a journey of self-discovery. Cady grows to appreciate how her people are much more in touch with the natural world, possess an ingrained sense of wonder, and a firm belief that nature in all its myriad forms communicates with them.  Best of all they live in harmony with the natural world. 

It is also a pleasure to watch Cady grow, mature, become more in tune with her family. The author taught for 15 years at the Hannahville Indian School in the U.P. and wrote this book for her students. The novel has won awards from the Midwest Independent Publishing Association and the Historical Society of  Michigan to name only two. And oh yes, this is a YA novel, but I defy anyone of any age to read a few pages and not become totally absorbed in Cady's life.


Cady and the Bear Necklace by Ann Dallman. Three Towers Press, 2019, $14.95.

Detroit's Lost Poletown: A Little Neighborhood that Touched a Nation by Brianne Turczynski

The destruction of a unique and very livable Detroit neighborhood in 1981 by GM, with the aid of Detroit's city council and mayor, is a familiar story to many in southeastern Michigan. But many the of details and issues raised by its destruction have become less than common knowledge after 40 years. The author's short, readable, and authoritative account of Poletown's demise is a sad and an enduring reminder of how powerless people can be when a city turns on its own residents.

The author begins with a short history of the neighborhood located in east Detroit that abuts Hamtramck. By post-WWII, Poletown's population had climbed to 4,000 and contained 1,400 homes, 140 businesses with stores on nearly every block, and a handful of churches and cemeteries. It had a strong Polish population but was known for its many ethnic minorities who all got along in this melting pot of a neighborhood that was called "beautifully diverse." The people of Poletown created a community identity, a place they called home. The first blow was the construction of I-94 that split the neighborhood in two. 

The end came in 1981when GM approached the city with the proposition of buying 463 acres of Poletown to build a GM plant. The company promised 6,000 jobs, in exchange for municipal tax breaks, and legal help in turning people out of their houses and destroying the neighbor. The bulk of the book covers the heartfelt opposition to removal and the impact of the loss of home and neighborhood on its residents. Detroit used the law of eminent domain to force people out of their homes. The inhabitants held protests, and one inhabitant even built a wall around their home and armed himself with a shotgun. 

The people of Poletown would answer a knock on the door and learn they no longer owned their home nor held the deed, and then were offered below market buyouts. City employees turned off water and gas on those who still legally occupied their homes. It was especially bitter to many that of the 463-acres, a 100 were devoted to parking lots. A Detroit reporter thought it amiss when, "we destroy homes people live in to create spaces for cars to sit in." GM said it would create 6,000 jobs but hired 3,000. Two decades too late the Michigan Supreme Court ruled the taking of Poletown via eminent domain was illegal. This is an illuminating, vitally interesting, and an important contribution to Michigan history. A great deal of this success is due to the author letting the people of Poletown tell their story of  losing a home or business and a neighborhood they thought of as home. The book abounds with photographs that enhance the narrative.

Detroit's Lost Poletown: The Little Neighborhood that Touched a Nation by Brianne Turczynski. History Press, 2021, $21.95.

Secret Societies in Detroit by Bill Loomis

This succinct and always interesting book presents a short history of two dozen secret societies that rose and fell in Detroit from pre Civil War to post WWII. The groups were often Detroit chapters of national organizations, but some were Detroit born and bred and stayed local. The secret societies were religious, social, political, criminal, mystical, gang related, and fraternal in nature. Sad to say, but a great many of them were dedicated to opposing the ideals and principals on which our country was founded.

The Know-Nothing Party professed that only white people born of parents who were born in this country were true Americans which sounds alarmingly current. The organization also openly hated Catholics and the Pope. A half century later The American Protective Association (APA) marked the rebirth of the Know-Nothing creed. The APA believed the purpose of the World's Columbian Exhibition was to promote Catholicism and the Pope. The group claimed Catholic churches collected and hid guns and ammo with which Catholics would take over the country. That may be almost laughable, but the Detroit chapter of the Klu Klux Klan was so powerful they ran a write-in candidate for mayor that polled more votes than anyone on the ballot.  The Klan candidate was disqualified because thousands of write-in votes misspelled his name.

On the positive side there was the African American Mysteries also called the Order of the Men of Oppression that was founded by a prominent Detroit African American in opposition to the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law. The secret society helped runaway slaves across the Detroit River to freedom and sent men with large wagons into the South. The wagons had false bottoms that could hold three adult slaves they smuggled North. The book is heavily illustrated and filled with surprising and sometimes disturbing historical facts. 


Secret Societies in Detroit by Bill Loomis. The History Press, 2021, $21.99.

Any of the books reviewed in this blog may be purchased by clicking your mouse on the book's cover which will take you to Amazon where you can usually purchase the book at a discount. By using this blog as a portal to Amazon and purchasing any product helps support Michigan in Books.

April 1, 2021 Post # 65

Thursday, April 1, 2021

 Quote for the day: "Invent a simple device like an automobile, to get you from here to there more quickly than you could go without it: before long you are in bondage to it, so that you build your cities and shape your countryside and reorder your entire life in the light of what will be good for the machine instead of what will be good for you." Bruce Catton. Waiting for the Morning Train. 1972.


Midnight in the Vehicle City: General Motors, Flint, and the Strike That Created the Middle Class by Edward McClelland.

Like many born and bred Flint kids I lived in a GM built house in a GM created neighborhood.  In retrospect, it was as if by osmosis I learned of the Flint Sit-Down Strike, its importance to this city, its impact on America's labor force, and how instrumental it was in the creation of our country's middle class. So it was with great interest I picked up this succinct, very readable and authoritative narrative that gives a near blow by blow account of the ground-breaking strike. I was interested in finding out what I did and didn't know about the strike.

The author makes clear that Flint was a company town in which the mayor, the city council, the police were all controlled by GM and the Flint Journal served as the company's mouth-piece. The author also does a fine job of describing workers complaints and GM's oppressive assembly line demands. A pre-strike crankshaft grinder had to lift by hand a 108 lb. crankshaft off the assembly line and carry it to the grinder then carry it back. By the end of shift the worker would have lifted tons of crankshafts. GM also sped up the assembly line to where it moved faster than the engineers designed it to run and at end of shift workers were often near collapse from exhaustion. GM had no safety standards, no disability pay even when the company was at fault and employees lost fingers, hands, and even legs. Then there was the tyranny of the supervisors and foremen who could fire employees on a whim, expect them to do work or perform general maintenance at his house to keep their job, and even expect sexual favors from workers' wives. Which goes a long way to explain why as the strike wore on and there was talk of the National Guard being ordered to remove the Sit-Downers the strikers were ready to die if attacked.

I was surprised to learn that President Roosevelt became involved in settling the strike and his Secretary of Labor worked hard to bring the company and union to the bargaining table. The Sec. of Labor didn't let the fact that she was a woman deter her from strong-arming Alfred Sloan and other GM bigwigs. Governor Murphy bent over backward to prevent violence and stopping any attempt to remove the strikers by force. The book also makes clear that the union leadership  were savvy negotiators and knew when to bluff both GM and the Governor.

In the epilogue the author makes a strong case that the union movement and especially the Sit-Down Strike had a major role in the creation of the blue-collar middle class and the decline of unions and recently passed laws creating open shops has meant the decline of unions and the middle class. When I grew up in the 1950s Flint and Genesee County boasted the nation's strongest middle class, it now suffers the country's highest poverty rate but that happened when GM employment in greater Flint dropped from 80,000 to 9,500. In Flint GM even tore down vacant building so they couldn't be taxed.

This book deserves rave reviews. It is driven by a narrative as powerful as a souped-up up V-8.

Midnight in Vehicle City: General Motors, Flint, and the Strike That Created the Middle Class by Edward McClelland. Beacon Press, 2011, $27.95.


Motown Man by Bob Campbell

Based on this fine first novel Campbell, a native of Flint, has a bright future in fiction. The novel takes place over the course of a week in the early 1990s in an unnamed city which is obviously Flint. Bradley Cunningham is single, a Control Engineer in an auto plant, and like the author an African-American. Bradly likes to say he's enrolled in UCLA, the University of Chevrolet Line Assembly. 

Bradley is engaged to a white reporter from Flint's major newspaper and she has been sent to cover a diversity workshop in Florida. During the week each of them reassess their relationship and take sharp looks at the demands made on the lives of  biracial couples. The result is a sensitive and honest portrayal of ethnic and racial diversity within Flint and the country. Bradley and his family are finely drawn characters and there's not a false step in this engrossing picture of  being Black in Flint. His prose in describing Flint, especially Black Flint cuts like a knife. He writes, "The other side of the river was simply the northside. For many readers of  [insert the Flint Journal], it was so distant a place it could have its own dateline." And, "The northside: what you get when there are too many blacks gathered in one place; the embodiment of an affirmative action gone awry." Yup, whether in the 50s when I was a kid, in the 90s when this book is set, or yesterday, the description rings true as a church bell.

Although Flint is never named it is captured perfectly as in this description of the Flint Cultural Center, " was so unlike the rest of the city, that it almost seemed as if they [the visitors]were in a different city altogether." or "a private sanctuary hidden in plain sight amid a creeping desert of desolation." The author is equally good at describing the de-industrialization of Flint and its near abandonment by GM. Then there are the sentences that once read linger in the mind. "Bradley likes to say that recorded music in a club is like macaroni-and-cheese from a box."

Wow, what a debut!

Motown Man by Bob Campbell. Urban Farmhouse Press, 2020, $20.95

Kawbawgam: The Chief, The Legend, The Man by Tyler R. Tichelaar

This book is much more than just a fascinating biography of a singular Ojibwa chief that had a significant impact on the history of the UP and helped preserve the culture of his people. Woven within the account of Kawbawgam's life is a history of his family, and the fate of the Ojibwa people as they first witnessed the encroachment of Europeans and then the usurpation of their land and subsequent vanishing of their way of life and culture.

Kawbawgam was the first resident of Marquette. He was living on the site of the future city when Peter White arrived with a small boatload of men and founded the city. Kawbawgam fed and sheltered the men and became a close friend of White, the city's most prominent citizen. Members of the Chief's family led Europeans to iron deposits and other Native American's led a state expedition to the famous Ontonagon Boulder, a 3,700 pound mass of pure copper. The Ojibwa revered the boulder and made offerings to it for "health and well being." The boulder was taken to Washington and housed in the Smithsonian.

The book abounds in interesting stories and forgotten sidelights of Michigan history. For instance, the tribe asked for the return of the Ontonagon Boulder in 1991. The request was denied. Famously, Ohio and Michigan went to war over whether Toledo was north or south of the border between the two states. The Federal government stepped in and awarded Toledo to Ohio and in compensation gave the UP to Michigan. I didn't know until reading this book that the western UP wasn't theirs to give away. It was Ojibwa land. Or that in digging the first lock at the Soo Ojibwas were removed from the land needed for the canal, their homes were torn down and Ojibwa graves were dug up  and the remains, "flung into muddy pits." Kawbawgam's relatives held part ownership in a mine but were denied company profits. The family brought a lawsuit that ended up in the Michigan Supreme Court and broke new ground in Native American rights.

Charlie Kawbawgam ended his days living in a house White built for him in a city park on Lake Superior.  He spent much of his time there helping to preserve Ojibwa culture by recording stories, tales, events and tribal history. He died a famous and celebrated citizen of Marquette. The book is a result of impressive research and is both scholarly and very readable. It is also a major contribution to the history of the Michigan's Upper Peninsula and I'm betting it is a shoe-in on next years Michigan Notable Book List.

Kawbawgam: The Chief, The Legend, The Man by Tyler R. Tichelaar. Marquette Fiction, 2020, $24.95.

Any of the books reviewed in this blog may be purchased by clicking your mouse on the book's cover which will take you to Amazon where you can usually purchase it at a discount. By using this blog as a portal to Amazon and purchasing any product helps support Michigan in Books.

March1, 2021 Post # 64

Monday, March 1, 2021

 Quote for the Day: "You want to go to Saginaw! ... do you realize what you are undertaking? Do you know that Saginaw is the last inhabited place til the Pacific Ocean; that from here to Saginaw hardly anything but wilderness and pathless solitude are to be found?"  A Pontiac innkeeper to Alexis de Tocqueville, on hearing that the French traveler was journeying to Saginaw. 1831.


Two Widows  by Laura Wolfe

Gloria has been widowed for two years. She lives in an old farmhouse on ten acres of land near Petoskey. She is lonely, still grieving, easily flustered, insecure, and faint-hearted. She feels even more ill-at-ease and defenseless when a young woman is found murdered on the beach near Petoskey. To make ends meet Gloria rents out an apartment over the garage and when Beth, a travel writer, shows up pulling a tiny house Gloria rents her a parking space for the summer near the farmhouse. The arrival of Beth is welcomed by Gloria. She is less anxious, welcomes the company, and hopes Beth will become a friend.

But Beth has secrets and Gloria begins to wonder how much her new renter is hiding and if she can be trusted. The plot starts off on simmer as the author introduces Gloria and Beth and deepens and broadens their characters. The novel progresses along two storylines. Gloria's narrative unfolds in the present with slowly mounting tension as a second young woman is reported missing and Gloria wonders who she can trust. The second storyline begins in Beth's past and slowly advances toward the present. When the two narratives converge the tension and menace reach the breaking point. 

This is billed as a suspenseful mystery. I found it much more powerful and meaningful as a novel focusing on Gloria's personal growth and the throwing off of fear, doubt, and worry. Instead, she  decides to live boldly, control her life, and accept what life brings. The novel is successful as both a mystery and the story of a lonely and frail character who turns her life around.
Two Widows by Laura Wolfe. Bookouture, 2020, $10.99.

Andy and the St. Joseph Home for Boys by Andy Skrzynski

The author was five-years-old when his parents divorced. His mother simply disappeared and his stern father of few words dropped-off the author's young sister with a grandmother and drove the author and his younger brother to an orphanage run by the Catholic Church. As both boys howled with grief and despair, their father ordered them out of the car, took them to the orphanage door where two nuns introduced themselves and their dad said, "Goodbye and behave yourselves." Then he turned his back on his sons and walked to the car while the author screamed, "Don't leave us here!"

The book is not written as an adult remembering the life-changing experience of living in an orphanage for five years.  But as a child experiencing the unexplainable, painful, and soul-crushing sundering of his family and the emotional and mental anguish of being abandoned. It is a heart-breaking description that left this reader wondering how parents can decide to dump their children off at a orphanage and where was the state or federal support for children in jeopardy. Can anyone just decide to drop their kids off at an orphanage? These questions can't be answered because the narrative is told from the point of view of a five-year-old. After several weeks have passed his father begins to pick up the two boys for weekend visits.  Each Sunday's parting is a tear drenched, painful abandonment all over again. 

The author does a fine job of recounting the little everyday events that bound together make up the life of a boy in a Catholic-run home for boys. Even a well-run orphanage by nuns who are strict but fair and caring do not make up for the loss of family although the author acknowledges many of the Sisters made significant and positive contributions to his growth and character. The book even has moments of  unexpected humor like Andy's first nervous confession when he tells the priest "what you are about to hear is bad, but I have an explanation for each sin that I'm sure you'll agree with."  In the epilogue, the author tells of his life after the orphanage and his adult life. 

Yes, at times this book can be painful reading, but more importantly, it is a testament to the indomitable human spirit and the will to overcome whatever obstacles one faces. This book is notably readable and inspiring. 
Andy and the St. Joseph Home for Boys by Andy Skrzynski. Privately Printed, 2020, $16.99.

Northern Blood by Daniel Greene

This is the third volume in a series of four books, to date, chronicling the adventures and exploits of Johannes Wolf who enlisted in a Michigan cavalry unit and served out the Civil War in General Custer's Brigade. The author knows his Civil War history and has comfortably and convincingly created a nonstop, at full gallop plot that puts Wolf in the thick of almost every major cavalry engagement from Gettysburg to, I assume, Appomattox in a succeeding volume.

The second book in the series ended with Wolf in the notorious Libby Prison in Richmond. This book opens with Wolf and his close friend escaping the prison and returning to their regiment. Wolf expected to be court-martialed for impersonating an officer while a prisoner but instead Custer and General Phil Sheridan promote him to lieutenant and send Lt. Wolf with a small, hand-picked squad on a secret mission. As concocted by Custer and Sheridan or rather the author, the mission is to kidnap the wife of J.EB. Stuart in order to make him attack Sheridan. The author admits in an afterword this never happened and this truly fictional episode takes up more than half the book. The idea for the mission and the order to carry it out seems out of character for either Custer or Sheridan. But admittedly other authors have taken greater liberties with Civil War history. 

That said, readers looking for a good historical adventure story will find this and all the books in the series immersive. Wolf is a fascinating character and his growth as a leader is well done and rings true. I found the inclusion of two Native American sharpshooters from Company K, of the 1st Michigan Sharpshooters, welcome and interesting. Many if not all of Company K was recruited from northern Michigan Native Americans and at the beginning of the war, they weren't even considered American citizens. And after my little tirade on the kidnapping of Mrs. Stuart I have to hand it to Greene for making her a very real and believable character. The fourth book in the series "Northern Dawn" sticks closer to the historical record. It finds the newly minted Lt. Wolf and his company caught in the bloody whirlwind of the Battle of Trevilian Station, the largest all cavalry battle of the war. The author captures the chaos, violence, confusion, and magnitude of thousands of armed men bent on destroying their enemy with immediacy and fervor.

Northern Blood by Daniel Greene, Independently Published, 2020, $13.99
Northern Dawn by Daniel Greene, Independently Published, 2020, $13.99

Any of the books reviewed in this blog may be purchased by clicking your mouse on the book's cover which will take you to Amazon where you can usually purchase the book at a discount. By using this blog as a portal to Amazon and purchasing any product helps support Michigan in Books.
Powered by Blogger.