Detroit Breakdown follows Elizabeth Hume and Will Anderson as they unravel a murder at Eloise Insane Asylum outside of Detroit in 1912. Elizabeth’s cousin Robbie Clark is a longtime patient at the institution, and the security team has accused him of the crime and placed him in solitary confinement. The head of the hospital, Dr. Beckwith, is not cooperating with the Detroit police, perhaps because his emotionally disturbed son seems to know too much about the mysterious disappearances of patients. Elizabeth and Will are convinced that Robbie is innocent, and they go undercover to unravel the mystery of the real murderer and rescue Robbie from solitary confinement. Will checks into Eloise as a patient with amnesia, putting himself in danger as the staff subjects him to the “cures” of the era. They discover that three patients had previously been murdered using the “Punjab lasso,” just like in the popular book The Phantom of the Opera. This is a wonderful mystery that keeps us guessing as to why these murders are occurring and who is responsible.
I really loved this book. The author draws us into the early auto industry in a story rich in the geography of the Detroit area. The reader is swept back to an era where local train service and the first electric cars were competing with horses. Some of these buildings still are standing today, and with vivid descriptions and a map of the site, the author brings the story alive. I did not read the first two books in this series, but felt this book was a stand-alone mystery that kept me on my toes. It was a quick read because I found it hard to put down.