It's the winter of 1923 and the border towns are under a deep freeze, with ferries ice-bound in the Detroit River, snow burying the streets, and power interruptions. Prohibition is still the backdrop to daily life, but opium smuggling and human trafficking are a pair of disturbing additions to the mix.
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In a failed attempt at transporting whisky across the Detroit River, a grim find is brought to the surface. When one of Detective Campbell's late-night walks is abruptly interrupted by a loud crash and a grisly thump, he summons his colleague Dr. Laforet to help with the case. Soon both cops and rumrunners are racing to connect the dots.
With a whisper of the occult in the chill Windsor air, Campbell and Laforet are caught up in another mystery.
From the moment bootleggers make the grisly discovery of a half-decayed body in the Detroit River, this gritty mystery grabs the reader and never lets go. The second in Januska's Border City Blues series (Riverside Drive) is again set in chilly city of Windsor, Ont., in the winter of 1923. Bootlegger Jack McCloskey tries to get his business back on track, but his gang is distracted by the idea that a key they found hidden on the corpse they pulled from the river might unlock a fortune hidden by a crime boss who was gunned down months before. A second plot begins when Detective Campbell of the Windsor Police sees a man fall or jump to his death from a third-story window. According to witnesses, the victim was a man whose wife had been summoned during a s ance with the spiritualist Madame Zahra in that third-floor room. Campbell summons his friend Dr. LaForet, the coroner, to help in determining whether it was a suicide or murder. As the two stories converge, McCloskey and Campbell collaborate to solve the mysteries and stop a rival gang's violence. This is an exciting, stylishly written piece of Prohibition-era historical crime fiction with an occult element and an array of memorable characters.