Books Set in Michigan – Michigan Upper Peninsula Novels – Books Set in Detroit

Hard Christmas: a Cat Marsala Mystery – Michigan Mystery Books

D’Amato, Barbara
Berkley 1996

Journalist-turned-sleuth Cat Marsala knows there’s no such thing as easy money. But a feature story on Christmas tree farming does sound relaxing. And once she arrives at the DeGraaf farm, Cat finds a friendly, colorful family whose hard work spans generations. Then Cat learns about the mysterious death of Henry DeGraaf, Sr., the previous spring, and a palpable tension replaces the cheery air. Could the DeGraaf family closet be rife with skeletons? When a fresh corpse turns up, she’s sure of it. Set in the Holland area. Mystery books set in Michigan. Fiction / Mystery & Detective / General.

“Author Notes: Barbara D’Amato is a playwright, novelist, and crime researcher. She was born in Michigan. D’Amato held jobs as a carpenter on magic shows, assistant surgical orderly, assistant to a wild animal act, stage manager, and legal researcher. She is a past president of Sisters in Crime International and serves on the board of the Mystery Writers of America. D’Amato wrote a children’s musical, The Magic of Young Houdini, and two musical comedies for adults. She was nominated for the Anthony award for her novel On My Honor and was the runner-up for the Nero Wolfe Award for the novel Hard Women. The Doctor, The Murder, The Mystery won the Anthony and Agatha Awards for Best True Crime and was used as the basis for a segment on the TV show, Unsolved Mysteries. -Bowker Author Biography. Novels set in Michigan, fiction books set in Michigan.

Shifting Through Neutral – African American Novels Set in Michigan

Davis, Bridgett M.
Amistad 2004

“For Rae Dodson, the early seventies are as hopeful and promising as the peace signs popping up everywhere. The signature sounds of Motown are filling Detroit’s airwaves, and automobile factories are supporting a burgeoning black middle class, which works by day and plays bid whist by night. Rae’s hip older sister, Kimmie, has moved home from New Orleans; her mother’s nerves have calmed enough for her to stop taking her “vitamins”; her father has discovered new painkillers that ease his chronic migraines; and now, despite her parents’ sleeping in separate rooms, the peace between them seems to be holding. All that shifts, however, when Rae’s mother suddenly takes off with her lover down a stretch of highway.” – Publisher. Fiction / General, Social Science / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies, Motherless families — Fiction, African American families — Fiction, Fathers and daughters — Fiction, Detroit (Mich.) — Fiction. Fiction set in Michigan.

Author Notes: Bridgett M. Davis is Professor of Journalism and the Writing Professions at Baruch College, CUNY, where she teaches creative, film and narrative writing and is Director of the Sidney Harman Writer-in-Residence Program. She was born in Detroit.

Slouching Towards Kalamazoo – Books Set in Michigan

De Vries, Peter
Penguin 1984

“It is 1963 in an unnamed town in North Dakota, and Anthony Thrasher is languishing for a second year in eighth grade. Prematurely sophisticated, young Anthony spends too much time reading Joyce, Eliot, and Dylan Thomas but not enough time studying the War of 1812 or obtuse triangles. A tutor is hired, and this “modern Hester Prynne” offers Anthony lessons that ultimately free him from eighth grade and situate her on the cusp of the American sexual revolution. Anthony’s restless adolescent voice is perfectly suited to De Vries’s blend of erudite wit and silliness-not to mention his fascination with both language and female anatomy-and it propels ‘Slouching Towards Kalamazoo’ through theological debates and quandaries both dermatological and ethical, while soaring on the De Vriesian hallmark of scrambling conventional wisdom for comic effect.” -Publisher. Partly set in Kalamazoo. Novels set in Michigan, fiction set in Michigan. Electronic books, Teenage boys — Fiction, Satire, Fathers and sons — Fiction.

Author Notes: Peter de Vries (1910-1993) was born in Chicago and graduated from Calvin College in Grand Rapids Michigan in 1931. His first novel, But Who Wakes the Bugler?, was published in 1940 and illustrated by the cartoonist Charles Addams. His other works include No But I Saw the Movie, Comfort Me with Apples, The Tents of Wickedness, The Blood of the Lamb, and Madder Music. Books set in Michigan.

See our Century Past page on Michigan Society to read about immigrants, crime, ethnic groups, women, African Americans, pioneer life, and social issues.

A Little Girl in Old Detroit – Children’s Books Set in Michigan

Douglas, Amanda M.
NY: Dodd, Mead 1902

A story of Detroit as seen through the eyes of a young French girl from its inclusion in the United States in 1796 until the destructive fire of 1805.* Historical Fiction set in Detroit. French Americans — Fiction — Michigan — Detroit, Detroit (Mich.) — Fiction, Children’s stories, fiction books set in Michigan.

Amanda M. Douglas (1831-1916) was raised in New York city and lived as an adult in New Jersey. This novel is one of many in her “Little Girl” series; stories set in various U.S. cities for young audiences. Among other books, she also authored a “Helen Grant” series which was more of a ‘college girl’ genre.

Home for Christmas – Fiction Books Set in Michigan

Douglas, Lloyd C.
Houghton 1937

Novelette about five prosperous brothers and sisters who return to the old homestead to celebrate Christmas. Books set in Michigan, Fiction set in Michigan.
Lloyd Cassel Douglas was an American minister and author. Douglas was one of the most popular American authors of his time, although he did not write his first novel until he was 50. -Wikipedia

A Spy in Old Detroit – YA Historical Fiction Set in Michigan

Emery, Anne
Chicago: Rand McNally 1963

Despite his conflicting feelings of loyalty, a fifteen-year-old French boy becomes a spy for the British during Pontiac’s siege of Detroit in 1763. Historical fiction books set in Michigan.* Pontiac’s Conspiracy, 1763-1765 — Fiction, Detroit (Mich.) — History — Siege, 1763 — Juvenile fiction, Indians of North America — Fiction — Michigan, Spy stories, fiction set in Michigan.

Author: Anne Emery is a lawyer and the author of the Collins-Burke mystery series, set in Halifax, Cape Breton, Ireland, London, and New York. She has won two Arthur Ellis Awards, an Independent Publisher Book Awards silver medal, and the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction.

Edsel; A Novel of Detroit – Michigan Historical Mystery Novel

Estleman, Loren D.
Mysterious 1995

“Has-been Detroit journalist Connie Minor is hand-picked by Henry Ford II to create the promotional campaign for his top-secret brainchild; the Edsel. He’s scarcely settled in when he gets caught between Walter Reuther and a Communist-hunting local politician who blackmails him into tapping his old underworld contacts for leads on a plot to kill Reuther. Bouncing from the mob to the union to the boardroom, Minor not only uncovers the murder plan but a stealthy scheme to sabotage the Edsel as well. A swiftly entertaining story of Detroit in the 1950s with all the panache of a Raymond Chandler and a keen eye for historical detail.” Libr J. Books set in Detroit. Books set in Michigan. Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Historical, Fiction / Thrillers / Crime, Automobile industry and trade — Fiction, Detroit (Mich.) — Fiction.

Author Notes: “Loren D. Estleman was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1952. He received a B.A. in English from Eastern Michigan University in 1974 and spent several years as a reporter on the police beat before leaving to write full time in 1980. His first novel was published in 1976 and since then he has published more than 70 books including the Amos Walker series, Writing the Popular Novel, Roy and Lillie: A Love Story, The Confessions of Al Capone, and a The Branch and the Scaffold. He received four Shamus Awards from the Private Eye Writers of America, five Golden Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America, the Owen Wister Award for lifetime achievement from Western Writers of America, and the Michigan Author’s Award in 1997. He lives in Whitmore Lake, Michigan.” -Publisher

Jitterbug; A Novel of Detroit – Historical Fiction Set in Detroit

Estleman, Loren D.
Forge 1998

“A Tom Doherty Associates book”. In World War II Detroit “the heat is on Racket Squad leader Lieutenant Maximilian Zagreb and his three detectives when someone starts killing people for hoarding ration coupons. Using some artful manipulation and some very unsubtle pressure, Zagreb leans on a couple of unlikely sources for help. Frankie ‘The Conductor’ Orr, a local mob boss, and Dwight Littlejohn, a black riveter in an airplane factory, are unwilling participants in Zagreb’s efforts to smoke out the killer dubbed Kilroy by the newspapers.” Publ Wkly
“This is historical crime drama at its highest level done by a consummate craftsman.” Booklist. Michigan mystery, books set in Michigan. Fiction / Noir, Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Historical, Fiction / Thrillers / Crime, World War, 1939-1945 — Fiction — Michigan — Detroit, Police — Fiction — Michigan — Detroit.

Motown – Detroit Historical Fiction

Estleman, Loren D.
Bantam 1991nbsp;

Second volume in the author’s Detroit trilogy. “Choreographing the movements leading to the August 1966 Detroit riots, Estleman focuses on three main characters: Rick Amery, an ex-cop hired to spy on a Ralph Nader-like consumer advocate; inspector Lew Canada, trying to prevent a war between the Mafia and black gangs, and a likely race riot; and Quincy Springfield, numbers racketeer and ‘blind pig’ (after-hours club) operator.” Publ Wkly
“Estleman seems more intent here on paying homage to the Motor City than on writing a mystery. Place is more important for Estleman than action, though this time several workable plots merge forcefully toward the novel’s conclusion.” Booklist. Mystery books set in Detroit. Fiction books set in Michigan.

The Virgin Suicides – Books That Take Place in Michigan

Eugenides, Jeffrey
Farrar, Straus & Giroux 1993

First published in 1993, The Virgin Suicides announced the arrival of a major new American novelist. In a quiet suburb of Detroit, the five Lisbon sisters—beautiful, eccentric, and obsessively watched by the neighborhood boys—commit suicide one by one over the course of a single year. As the boys observe them from afar, transfixed, they piece together the mystery of the family’s fatal melancholy, in this hypnotic and unforgettable novel of adolescent love, disquiet, and death. Jeffrey Eugenides evokes the emotions of youth with haunting sensitivity and dark humor and creates a coming-of-age story unlike any of our time. Adapted into a critically acclaimed film by Sofia Coppola, The Virgin Suicides is a modern classic, a lyrical and timeless tale of sex and suicide that transforms and mythologizes suburban middle-American life. Novels set in Michigan. Fiction books set in Michigan.

Author Notes: Jeffrey Eugenides was born in Detroit and attended Brown and Stanford Universities. His first novel, The Virgin Suicides, was published to great acclaim in 1993, and he has received numerous awards for his work. In 2003, Eugenides received the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Middlesex, which was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and France’s Prix Médicis, and has sold more than three million copies.

Campfire and Trail (The White Captive); A Tale of The Pontiac War – YA Historical Fiction Set in Michigan

Ford, R. Clyde
Chicago: Rand McNally 1915

Freed from captivity, a young man helps defend Fort Detroit during Pontiac’s siege. Set at Forts St. Joseph, Michilimackinac, and Detroit from 1760 to 1763.* Pontiac’s Conspiracy, 1763-1765, books set in Michigan.

Author notes: Richard Clyde Ford (1870-1951) had two degrees from Albion College and a 1900 PhD from the University of Freiburg, Germany.

The Loon Feather

Fuller, Iola
Harcourt 1940

The story of an Indian girl destined to grow up with the incompatible traditions of her own people and of the white traders on Mackinac Island. A fictionized autobiography of Tecumseh’s daughter. Setting is the Mackinac region in the early 1800’s. Historical fiction set in Michigan. Michigan — Fiction — History — To 1837, Indians of North America — Fiction — Michigan — Mackinac Island (Island), Ojibwa Indians — Fiction, books set in Michigan.

Author notes: Iola Fuller (1906–1993) (later Iola Fuller Goodspeed McCoy), born in Marcellus, MI, was a librarian and writer. Her first novel, The Loon Feather, won the 1939 Hopwood Award from the University of Michigan. During World War II, 150,000 copies of the book were printed as Armed Services Editions; inexpensive paperbacks which the Army and Navy Library Services distributed free of charge to members of the American armed forces.

Fatal Secret – Mackinac Island Mystery Book

Glenwood, Ida (Gorton, Mrs. Cynthia M. R.)
Philadelphia: Potter 1873

The incidents in this story were reportedly based on the experience of a couple who for twenty years worked at the Mission school on Mackinac Island. Books set in Michigan. Mackinac Island (Mich.) — Fiction.

Author notes: The author went totally blind after a serious illness when she was in her mid-twenties. Despite her blindness she was a successful writer of poetry, magazine serials and romantic novels, composing her work on one of the earliest typewriters. Born in Massachusetts, she moved sometime after her marriage to Fenton, MI, where she remained throughout her life.

Curse of the White Panther: A Story of the Days of the Toledo War – Michigan Historical Fiction

Greene, Merritt
Hillsdale, Mich: 1960

This novel is the second in a 3-book sequence. The first book, The Land Lies Pretty, is available on this web page. In this second volume, Martin Langdon has further adventures in southern Michigan during the period of 1833 to 1835, including a role in the Toledo War. The third book in the series, Forgotten Yesterdays: A Tale of Early Michigan, was not found online. Toledo War, 1835, Hillsdale County (Mich.) — Fiction, Michigan — Fiction — Boundaries — Ohio.

Merritt William Green (1897-1972) was a Toledo, Ohio lawyer who apparently moved to Hillsdale, MI, at some point (retirement?), where he wrote plays and historical novels.

Michigan travel books

The Land Lies Pretty “Op-Jah-Mo-Mak-Ya” – Michigan Historical Fiction Books

A story of the Great Sauk Trail in 1832 with an Introduction to the Northwest Territory

Green, Merritt
Hillsdale School Supply 1959

“This story is laid at the time when the pioneers and Indians were living together in the wilderness of southern Michigan. If, however, the reader wants to enjoy gruesome tales of settlers being murdered and slaughtered by the Indians he will be disappointed; for this book sincerely attempts to depict the conditions as they actually were. Many of the incidents are historically true. The Indian lore and information was obtained from Now-qua-oum, a Potowatomi Indian who now lives near Athens, and whose ancestors roamed the forests of southern Michigan, northern Ohio and Indiana. The Great Sauk Trail was then, as now, the shortest route between Detroit and Chicago. It became the Chicago Turnpike, and is now designated as U.S. Highway 112, named the Pulaski Memorial Highway.” -Author’s Preface. This first novel of a 3-book sequence is set in ‘Grannisville’, which may be Jonesville, MI. Hillsdale County (Mich.) — Fiction, Northwest, Old — Fiction — History, Indian trails — Fiction — Michigan.

The Tarnished Eye – Michigan Thriller Books

Guest, Judith
Scribner 2004

From the New York Times bestselling author of Ordinary People comes a gripping novel of suspense, exploring fragile family dynamics in the aftermath of tragedy… The Tarnished Eye takes readers to the community of Blessed, in northern Michigan, where Sheriff Hugh DeWitt still grieves for his infant son, who died of SIDS a few years earlier. Obsessed with the past, he’s endangering his future with his beloved wife and daughter.
Meanwhile, up the road from the DeWitts, in one of the rich summer cottages, Paige Norbois grieves for a lost love of her own. Married to a stern and unresponsive man, Paige wills herself to stay in the marriage and sacrifice her personal feelings for the sake of her children’s stability. But soon an unimaginable tragedy destroys all dreams of stability in Blessed. Paige, her husband, Edward, and their four children are brutally slaughtered in their home. Sheriff DeWitt, deeply moved by the horrific murder scene, must find answers to a string of urgent questions. Fiction / Literary, Fiction / Mystery & Detective / General, Massacres — Fiction, Michigan — Fiction.

Author Notes: “Judith Guest was born in Detroit in 1936. She earned a degree in Education from the University of Michigan. She has been a schoolteacher in Detroit. With no formal training in fiction writing, novelist Judith Guest began to write fiction and poetry when her youngest son started school. Her highly acclaimed first novel, Ordinary People, was published in 1976 and has since been published in 13 languages. It was made into a film, directed by Robert Redford, which received the Academy Award for best picture in 1980. Guest’s subsequent works include Second Heaven (1982), Killing Time in St. Cloud (1988), Errands (1997) and The Tarnished Eye (2004).” -Bowker author biography

Trial by Fire: A Tale of the Great Lakes – Books Set in Michigan

Hallet, Richard Matthews
Boston: Small, Maynard 1916

“A long-drawn-out dachshund of the lakes” was the “Yuly Yinks,” a boat on which the forepart scarcely knew the hindpart by sight, so widely were they separated by actual distance and social distinction. Circumstances bring young Alexander Grant to ship as a deckhand forward at the same time that his father and a party of friends, one of them Avis Wrenn, are passengers at the other end. But Alexander, sweating down in the hold, does not know the true inwardness of all these circumstances. Only Cagey the fireman knows. Something of a Caliban is this Cagey, capable of ruminating half intelligently on life as he has seen it, and capable too of rising to a certain height of self-sacrifice.”
“No summary of the story would convey its vivid realism. The language is stripped to the bone of every superfluous phrase, allusion and description. Dramatic scenes are dashed on the canvas with a minimum of colorful words. Cagey is a creation; and Avis Wrenn the heroine is charming. The book is of outstanding merit.” – The Book Review Digest. Shipping — Fiction — Great Lakes (North America), Sailors — Fiction.

Author notes: Richard Hallet was a 25-year-old Harvard-educated lawyer from New England when he abandoned practice of the law for adventure of the sea and a career as a sea-writer. After a passage as a seaman from Boston to Australia and another as a fireman from the Indian Ocean to England, he worked for a few months as a fireman aboard the iron ore freighter James A. Jenks on the Great Lakes. Trial by Fire was his only novel located on the Great Lakes. -from Searchable Sea Literature website

Winter of the Wolf Moon – Books set in Michigan Upper Peninsula

Hamilton, Steve
St. Martin’s Paperbacks 2001

“Ex-cop and sometime P.I. Alex McKnight endures the bitter Michigan winter in his log cabin. When a young Ojibwa woman asks for shelter from her abusive boyfriend, McKnight agrees. She disappears the next morning, and McKnight suspects her boyfriend of abducting her. But his search brings on more suspects and a thickening web of crime from the secret world of the Ojibwa reservation.” – Cover. Fiction / Thrillers / General, Private investigators — Fiction — Michigan — Upper Peninsula, McKnight, Alex (Fictitious character) — Fiction, Upper Peninsula (Mich.) — Fiction, Ojibwa women — Fiction, Indians of North America — Fiction — Michigan — Upper Peninsula.

Author: Steve Hamilton was born and raised in Detroit, and graduated from the University of Michigan. In 2006, he won the Michigan Author Award for his outstanding body of work. His novels have won numerous awards and media acclaim beginning with the very first in the Alex McKnight series, A Cold Day in Paradise.

Trumpet in the Wilderness – Historical Fiction Book Set in Michigan

Harper, Robert S.
NY: Mill 1940

“Two dramatic engagements in the War of 1812 – Colonel Cass’s Detroit campaign and Perry’s victory on Lake Erie – are re-created with an excellent balance between romance and research.” Michigan — Fiction — History — War of 1812

Robert S. Harper was an Ohio author and historian with expertise in the Civil War.

Ann Arbor Tales – Short Stories Set in Michigan

Harriman, Karl Edwin
Philadelphia: Jacobs 1902

Romantic and sentimental short stories focusing on students at the University of Michigan.

Farmer – Book Set in Rural Michigan

Harrison, Jim
Viking 1976

In Farmer, Jim Harrison tells the story of Joseph, a forty-three-year-old farmer-schoolteacher who suddenly finds himself at a crossroads. Forced to choose between two lovers—one a tantalizing young student, the other his beautiful childhood friend—he must also decide whether or not to stay on the farm or finally seek the wider, more worldly horizons he has avoided all his life. Farmer is a wondrous blend of insight, storytelling, and the author’s uncanny ability to evoke the mysteries and beauties of the natural world. Fiction / Small Town & Rural, Fiction / Literary, Michigan — Fiction.

Author Notes: James Thomas Harrison (1937-2016) was born in Grayling, Michigan. After a B.A. and M.A. in comparative literature from Michigan State University in 1960 and 1964, he briefly taught English at SUNY- Stony Brook. During his lifetime, he wrote 14 collections of poetry, 21 volumes of fiction, two books of essays, a memoir, and a children’s book. His novel, Legends of the Fall, was adapted into a feature film starring Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt. Harrison also wrote the screenplay for the movie. – Bowker author bio

Hubbard’s Trail – Historical Fiction Set in Michigan

Holt, Alfred Hubbard
Chicago: Erle Press 1952

Fictionalized biography of Gurdon Hubbard, fur-trader and pioneer merchant. Partially set in Fort Mackinac and in the Muskegon River area.* Fur trade — Fiction — Northwest, Old.

See also: Hubbard, Gurdon S., The Autobiography of Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard, Pa-pa-ma-ta-be, “The Swift Walker” in Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History

A New Home-Who’ll Follow? Or, Glimpses of Western Life – Michigan Frontier Fiction

Kirkland, Caroline (under the pseudonym Mrs. Mary Clavers)
NY: Francis 1841

Set in the frontier of Michigan int he 1830s, A New Home is the first realistic portrayal of western village life in the United States. Based on Caroline Kirkland’s own experiences – and written from a woman’s perspective – it narrates with a keen eye and wit the absorbing story of the establishment of the village of Montacute [Pinckney], Michigan. Michigan — Fiction — History — To 1837, Michigan Territory — Fiction — History, Women and literature — History — 19th century — Michigan.

Author notes: Caroline Kirkland, from a wealthy family in New York City, moved west with her husband to Michigan Territory in 1835. They helped found the town of Pinckney in Livingston County in 1837. She wrote two very literate and autobiographical novels while in Michigan; A New Home; Who’ll Follow and Forest Life. They returned to NYC in 1843, partly because their Pinckney neighbors were not at all pleased with her humorous portrayals of them. Back in New York she wrote a third book about Michigan; Western Clearings, and went on to become a highly successful novelist.

Forest Life – Michigan Pioneer Fiction

Volume 2

Kirkland, Caroline
London: Longman 1842

More of the author’s fictionalized experiences on the Michigan frontier are recounted. Set in “Montacute” (Pinckney) in the early 1840s. See the note at the entry for Kirkland’s A New Home-Who’ll Follow?

“Humor, vivacity, keen discernment, graphic powers of description, and a thorough acquaintance with American forest life, are the most striking features of these volumes. There is not a chapter from which we do not feel strongly disposed to quote.” – London Atlas. Michigan — Fiction — History — To 1837, Michigan Territory — Fiction — History, Women and literature — History — 19th century — Michigan.

Western Clearings – Michigan Pioneer Fiction

Kirkland, Caroline
NY: Wiley & Putnam 1845

See the note above under Kirkland’s A New Home-Who’ll Follow? Frontier and pioneer life — Fiction — United States.

Murder Makes the Wheels Go ‘Round – Mystery Books Set in Michigan

Lathen, Emma
MacMillan 1966

When John Putnam Thatcher, “a New York banker, goes to Detroit to weigh the possibilities of underwriting Michigan Motors’ new stock issue, he finds that Jensen, who has just finished a jail term for price-fixing, is demanding reinstatement and making threats to the man who betrayed him. But it is Jensen who is murdered.” Buyer’s Guide
It is “witty, literate, complicated.” Library J. Fiction / Mystery & Detective / General, Wall Street (New York, N.Y.) — Fiction, Thatcher, John Putnam (Fictitious character) — Fiction.

Author Note: For more than a decade after Emma Lathen’s first novel, ‘Banking on Death’, in 1961, her readers wondered who was this mysterious woman who was so well-versed in investment banking and business operations. The truth came out in the 1970s; Emma Lathen was not a woman – she was two women. Mary Jane Latsis and Martha Henissart met at Harvard in 1952 when both were in their thirties and working on postgrad degrees. They shared a love of fiction and kept in touch and, years later, began collaborating on novels while pursuing their separate careers in different places.

The Wolverine; A Romance of Early Michigan – Historical Fiction about Michigan

Lawrence, Albert Lathrop
Boston: Little, Brown 1904

Stevens Mason, Governor Cass, and Father Richard are important characters in this romance centering around a French-American girl who came to live in Detroit in 1817. Michigan — History — Fiction, Detroit (Mich.) — Fiction.

Author note: Albert Lathrop Lawrence was born in Coldwater, MI in 1865. In the early 1900s, when this book was published, he was mainly a Lansing-based writer of short stories for newspapers and magazines.

Pagan Babies – Humorous Books Set in Michigan

Leonard, Elmore
Delacorte 2000

“Father Terry Dunn, an American priest working in Rwanda, is forced to return to the United States after exacting penance from a group of local Hutu murderers. Upon returning to Detroit, ostensibly to raise money for African orphans, he becomes involved with Debbie, a recently released ex-convict hoping to strike it rich as a stand-up comedian. A plan for both Terry and Debbie to attain the riches they desire soon gives way to a mix of deceit and false loyalties.” Libr J
This “is one of Mr. Leonard’s funniest books, with a typically colourful cast of oddballs. The dialogue. too, is snappy. .
Mr. Leonard steers the reader effortlessly’ through a maze of plots and counterplots, then brings the whole thing in with a bravura flourish and stops on a dime.” -Economist. Fiction / Thrillers / Crime, Americans — Fiction — Rwanda, Detroit (Mich.) — Fiction.

Author notes: Elmore John Leonard Jr. (1825-2013) was a very successful novelist, short story writer and screenwriter. His earliest novels, published in the 1950s, were Westerns, but he went on to specialize in crime fiction and suspense thrillers, many of which have been adapted into motion pictures. His family settled in Detroit in 1934, and he graduated from high school there. After WWII service with the Navy Seabees he earned a B.A. in English at University of Detroit. He went on to work as a copy writer for an advertising agency for several years, until he could support himself with his writing. – Wikipedia

Legends of Michigan and the Old North West, Or, A Cluster of Unpublished Waifs, Gleaned Along the Uncertain, Misty Lie, Dividing Traditional from Historic Times – Native American Folklore of Michigan

Littlejohn, Flavius Josephus
Allegan, MI: Northwestern Bible 1875

Indians of North America — Michigan — Folklore, Potawatomi Indians, Shawnee Indians, Ojibwa Indians, Sauk Indians

Author Note: Flavius J. Littlejohn grew up in New York, where he was educated and began practicing law in 1830. In the late 1830s he moved to Allegan, MI, where he became renowned for his eloquent speech. He was elected to the state legislature in 1841, and to the State Senate in 1845. In 1858 he was appointed Circuit Court judge of Allegan County, covering a region that extended to the straits of Mackinac. ‘Legends of Michigan’ appears to be his only published book, but he seems to have also written essays.

Onawago or the Betrayer of Pontiac – YA Historical Fiction of Michigan

Ludlow, Will Cumback
Benton Harbor: Antiquarian 1911

An Ojibwa medicine woman who had warned the Detroit garrison of Pontiac’s attack in 1763 is a mysterious presence among the settlers of Michigan. Set mostly in “Barterville” in Berrien County from 1838 to 1858.* This novel was published four years after the author’s death at age 22. Pontiac’s Conspiracy, 1763-1765 — Fiction, Frontier and pioneer life — Juvenile fiction — Michigan, Potawatomi Indians — Juvenile fiction, Women shamans — Juvenile fiction.

Gabriel’s Search – Pioneer Fiction of Michigan

Lutes, Della T.
Boston: Little, Brown 1940

“The tang and gusto of frontier living in the 1830’s is highlighted in this story of a newcomer’s adjustment to a community near Jackson.”
“A novel of pioneer life in Michigan in the early 1800’s. The story of the agnostic, Gabe Reed, and how he was looked upon by his God-fearing neighbors is full of the realistic details of the daily life of the period.” Michigan — Fiction, Country life — Michigan, Jackson County (Mich.) — Fiction, Frontier and pioneer life — Fiction.

Author notes: Della T. Lutes (1867-1942) was raised on a farm near Jackson, MI. She became a teacher at 16 when she finished high school, working first in Jackson and then in Detroit. She married and remained in Detroit until about 1907, publishing her first book in 1906. She then moved to Cooperstown, NY to join the staff of the magazine ‘American Motherhood’. She remained in Cooperstown for the rest of her life, writing short stories and editing women’s magazines. She won a National Book Award in 1936 for her book ‘Country Kitchens’.

Mackinac Passage: A Summer Adventure – YA Mystery Book Set in Mackinac Island

Lytle, Robert A.
Thunder Bay 1995

When the Jenkins family arrives at their Straits of Mackinac summer cottage, 15-year-old Pete Jenkins, meets and befriends three other teens. But before long, in a summer already filled with fishing, learning to sail, and making new friends, the four teens stumble across evidence of a counterfeit money scheme, which they suspect is run by a recluse writer named Harold Geetings. Their investigation leads them to nearby Mackinac Island on which they discover an extensive Underworld operation, and where their curiosity endangers their lives when they witness the murder of one of the gang! Pete and his friends find the adventure of a lifetime in this exciting, suspenseful story for young adults set in beautiful islands of Les Cheneaux and on Mackinac Island in northern Michigan. Mackinac Island (Mich.) — Fiction.

The Indian Drum – YA Michigan Fiction

MacHarg, William Briggs, De La Vergne, Earl W. and Balmer, Edwin
Boston: Little Brown 1917

When Alan Conrad enters the lives of Benjamin Corvet and Henry Spearman, events are put in motion that dredge up the December 1895 fate of the Lake Michigan steel freighter the Miwaka. Can the Manitou Indian legend that tells of a drum beating every time the lake takes a life unravel the mystery? Indians of North America — Juvenile fiction, Emmet County (Mich.) — Fiction — Juvenile fiction, Michigan, Lake — Fiction, Detective and mystery stories, Shipwrecks — Fiction.

Dewey Defeats Truman – Books Set in Owosso Michigan

Mallon, Thomas
Pantheon 1997

“Owosso, Michigan, was Dewey’s birthplace, and in the summer and fall of 1948 the townspeople are basking in the national attention that brushes the town. Anne Macmurray, a bookstore clerk and aspiring novelist, is being courted by two men, one a U.A.W. organizer, the other a smug Republican lawyer running for state senator. That romantic rivalry is shaped not only by the political passions of 1948 but also by the skeletons buried (and in one case unburied) in the pasts of other Owossoans. This work is so tightly constructed that it sometimes feels contrived, but Mallon’s gift for the telling detail, whether of place or of character, quickly banishes such reservations.” New Yorker. Fiction / Political, Presidents — Fiction — Election, Owosso (Mich.) — Fiction.

Author: Thomas Mallon, author of “In Fact”, is a frequent contributor to many magazines & journals. His column, “Doubting Thomas” ran for six years in GQ. His novels Dewey Defeats Truman & Henry & Clara were New York Times Notable Books. A recipient of Guggenheim & Rockefeller fellowships, he lives in Westport, Connecticut.

Blue Collar Blues – Books Set in Michigan

McMillan, Rosalyn
Warner 1998

“Thyme Tyler is an African American plant manager for Champion Motors (a hybrid of Ford, GM and Chrysler) who has hit the glass ceiling even though she holds a Ph.D. Khan Davis is a handsomely paid factory worker who faces the threat of layoff and daily struggles for overtime in the plant. The two women maintain a friendship despite their class differences and despite Khan’s refusal to forgive Thyme’s marriage to a sterotypically lily-white Champion exec.” Publ Wkly. African Americans — Fiction, Automobile industry workers — Fiction, Detroit (Mich.) — Fiction.

Author notes: Rosalyn McMillan (1953-2017) was raised in Port Huron, MI, and is the sister of novelist Terry McMillan. The family struggled to make ends meet when Rosalyn was a child. When she finished high school she went to work for Ford Motor Co., remaining there 20 years. She worked on her writing in her spare time, and her first novel was published in 1996.

The Outbound Road – Fiction Books Set in Michigan

Mulder, Arnold
Boston: Houghton Mifflin 1919

“As the scene for his novels this author chooses a quaint Dutch settlement in Michigan. In the present story the hero is a young man who as a child was adopted into a Dutch household. His dead mother had been an actress and his heritage from her breaks out in spite of the narrow religious training that regards theater going, even as novel reading, as sin. The boy while yet a child, shows a gift for acting, and as he grows older turns naturally to the theater, but his true genius is to express itself in play writing. The story is told by the boy’s father, a college professor, who has let his petty ambitions in his profession, withhold confession of his parenthood.”
“What we need in American fiction is just such simple veracity, insight, sane and liberal human feeling as Mr Mulder displays in his descriptions of his Dutch country-folk in East Nassau.”
“Interwoven through the story is the glamor of a strange country and a stranger people.” – The Book Review Digest. Dutch Americans — Fiction.

Author notes: Arnold Mulder (1885-1959) was raised in Ottawa County, MI, and received his B.A. at Hope College in Holland, MI. He then earned an M.A. at Univ. of Chicago. He spent his career as a newspaper editor in Holland, MI, and also wrote several novels.

At War with Pontiac or the Totem of the Bear. A Tale of Redcoat and Redskin – Michigan Historical Fiction

Munroe, Kirk
NY: Scribner 1919

The twelve-year-old son of a retired British major is involved in a series of adventures during Pontiac’s Conspiracy in 1763. Partially set in Detroit.* Pontiac’s Conspiracy, 1763-1765 — Fiction, Detroit (Mich.) — Fiction.

Author notes: Charles Kirk Munroe (1850-1930) was born in a log cabin in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, and while a child moved with his family to Cambridge, Massachusetts. He finished school at 16 and began work as a NY newspaper reporter, and then worked as a young magazine editor. From 1979 to 1884 he was the commodore of the New York Canoe Club, and in 1880 co-founded the League of American Wheelmen, which soon became the main organization in the U.S. for bicyclists. In 1886 he and his wife moved to Miami, where he joined the Audubon Society and became an active environmentalist. He published many novels between 1886 and 1905.

Scroll to Top