The Mysterious Bookshop

Morris, Bill, Motor City Burning

Having focused on 1954 Detroit in his debut, Motor City (1992), Morris eloquently captures the Detroit of 1968, a city shaped by the auto industry, ravaged by violence, and rejuvenated by Motown, in this outstanding crime novel. Disaffected with the civil rights movement, Willie Bledsoe helped his Vietnam veteran brother smuggle a load of weapons to Detroit shortly before the 1967 race riots. Now, as he buses tables at a white country club and struggles to write his memoir, he’s haunted by the fear that he killed a woman during the riots. Irish cop Frank Doyle has personal reasons for wanting to solve the murder, but develops a grudging respect for Willie, his chief suspect. Meanwhile, the Tigers’ unlikely winning season unites a city searching for optimism amid racial and economic tensions. Morris adeptly evokes time and place, displaying a profound passion for Detroit and astute insight into the era’s fraught climate. Characters represent a cross-section of the city’s population, adding nuance to this tale of a young black man seeking his voice, a cop pursuing justice, and a country searching for a way forward