Michigan Stories


Explore fictional stories from throughout Michigan, both the Mitten and UP.


Where Yesterday Lives

Karen Kingsbury

At thirty-one, Ellen Barrett has already won a Pulitzer prize. Sadly, though, her skill as a journalist far surpasses her ability to sort out her troubled past, so she's less than eager to return to picturesque Petoskey, Michigan, for her beloved father's funeral. When she most needs comfort, her husband is distant and her siblings antagonistic -- and the solace an old sweetheart offers is almost too much to resist. In the end, going home to the shores of Little Traverse Bay is an emotional and spiritual journey for Ellen -- a rediscovery of what is truly important and eternal in her life.

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South of Hell

P. J. Parrish

Dig up the past. Pay the price. With one phone call from a man he barely recalls meeting years ago, South Florida detective Louis Kincaid heads to the Michigan town of his college days to reopen a disturbing cold case -- and finds himself confronting his own painful past secrets...secrets that risk his future with the woman he loves, detective Joe Frye. Ann Arbor police detective Jake Shockey wants Kincaid's help in the case of Jean Brandt, who went missing nine years ago -- and whose husband, Owen, has since been paroled. Now, Owen Brandt's girlfriend appears to be at risk, and Shockey is desperate to get involved. Kincaid soon unearths the deeply personal reasons why...and with Joe Frye assisting, Kincaid links yesterday's jealousies with today's potentially lethal vengeance. It's only a matter of time before one will win out over the other -- and before Kincaid's own shattering revelations will be forced out into the light of day.

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Starvation Lake

Bryan Gruley

In the dead of a Michigan winter, pieces of a snowmobile wash up near the crumbling, small town of Starvation Lake—the same snowmobile that went down with Starvation’s legendary hockey coach years earlier. But everybody knows Coach Blackburn's accident happened five miles away on a different lake. As rumors buzz about mysterious underground tunnels, the evidence from the snowmobile says one thing: murder. Gus Carpenter, editor of the local newspaper, has recently returned to Starvation after a failed attempt to make it big at the Detroit Times. In his youth, Gus was the goalie who let a state championship get away, crushing Coach's dreams and earning the town's enmity. Now he's investigating the murder of his former coach. But even more unsettling to Gus are the holes in the town’s past and the gnawing suspicion that those holes may conceal some dark and disturbing secrets—secrets that some of the people closest to him may have killed to keep.

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Bad Things Happen

Harry Dolan

A gripping novel about a man trying to escape his violent past and soon becomes a murder suspect when a publisher—and the husband of the woman he's having an affair with—turns up dead. The man who calls himself David Loogan is hoping to escape a violent past by living a quiet, anonymous life in Ann Arbor, Michigan. But when he's hired as an editor at a mystery magazine, he is drawn into an affair with the sleek blond wife of the publisher, Tom Kristoll—a man who soon turns up dead. Elizabeth Waishkey is the most talented detective in the Ann Arbor Police Department, but even she doesn't know if Loogan is a killer or an ally who might help her find the truth. As more deaths start mounting up—some of them echoing stories published in the magazine—it's up to Elizabeth to solve both the murders and the mystery of Loogan himself.

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Ghost Writers

Keith Taylor

Tales of the ghostly and supernatural by some of Michigan’s finest fiction writers. Ghost anecdote / Laura Kasischke -- Not even lions and tigers / Steve Amick -- Thin air / Elizabeth Kostova -- Backseat driver / James Hynes -- Pier Road / Nicholas Delbanco -- Bones on Bois Blanc / Laura Hulthen Thomas -- Bitchathane / Anne-Marie Oomen -- Estate sale / Kelly Fordon -- Making bakes / Lolita Hernandez -- Devil in Cross Village / Eileen Pollack -- Man at the edge / Keith Taylor -- Belief / Elizabeth Schmuhl

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Red Jacket

Joseph Heywood

Woods Cop mystery author Joseph Heywood takes readers to an era when people had to be as hard as the lives they lived. Meet Lute Bapcat, orphan, loner, former cowboy, Rough Rider, beaver trapper, a man who in 1913, with the enthusiastic recommendation by Theodore Roosevelt, himself, becomes one of the Michigan’s first civil service game wardens. His territory: The Keweenaw Peninsula, the state’s industrial center. Featuring a stunning array of characters, fascinating historical detail, and Heywood’s trademark writing about life and work in Michigan’s wild, Red Jacket asks Lute to confront an explosive, bloody labor strike; a siege-like sabotage, including a sudden rash of decapitated, spoiled deer; poisoned trout streams and well water; and unusual deforestation-all apparently designed by mine owners to deny nature’s bounty to the strikers, and thereby to break the union. The strike’s violence culminates in the Italian Hall disaster, during which a man allegedly yells fire in a small building with several hundred people inside. In the panic, 73 people are crushed or die of suffocation, the majority of them the children and wives of striking miners at the hall for a Christmas party. Even with good people dying, the Michigan governor refuses to take sides. Should Lute Bapcat?

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The First Phone Call From Heaven

Mitch Albom

The First Phone Call from Heaven tells the story of a small town on Lake Michigan that gets worldwide attention when its citizens start receiving phone calls from the afterlife. Is it the greatest miracle ever or a massive hoax? Sully Harding, a grief-stricken single father, is determined to find out. An allegory about the power of belief—and a page-turner that will touch your soul—Albom's masterful storytelling has never been so moving and unexpected. Readers of The Five People You Meet in Heaven will recognize the warmth and emotion so redolent of Albom's writing, and those who haven't yet enjoyed the power of his storytelling, will thrill at the discovery of one of the best-loved writers of our time.

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A Good Killing

Allison Leotta

Newly single after calling off her wedding, sex-crimes prosecutor Anna Curtis is summoned home to Michigan when her old high school coach--a hometown hero--is killed in a fiery car crash. But Anna isn't there to prosecute a crime, she's home to support her innocent sister, Jody, who has been wrongfully accused of the coach's murder. But maybe Jody isn't so innocent after all? The police are convinced that Jody was having an affair with the married coach and killed him out of jealousy. As Anna investigates with the help of her childhood friend Cooper Bolden--an Afghan War veteran with a secret of his own--she slowly peels back the facade of her all-American hometown and discovers that no one is telling the truth about the coach, not even the people she thought she knew best. When the town rallies against them, threatening not just Jody's liberty but both sisters' lives, Anna resolves to do everything she can to save her sister and defend the only family she has left.

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The Chocolate Bunny Brouhaha

JoAnna Carl

The approach of Easter means a rush of business at TenHuis Chocolade, and Lee and her aunt Nettie need all the help they can get to make their famous chocolate bunnies and eggs. Unfortunately, new hire Bunny Birdsong is a klutzy basket case, dropping everything she picks up. But to Lee's surprise, she's a wiz with computers and fixing the store's Web site so they decide to keep her... However, Bunny receives a few visitors they could do without: Her ex-husband, Beau; his wealthy aunt Abigail; and his new girlfriend and her brother all descend on the shop one day and have a bitter argument. Lee hopes they can find a peaceful way to settle their dispute and not bring any more trouble to TenHuis. But when Abigail's body is discovered in the vacant store next door, it's clear to Lee there's a bad egg in her midst. Now she's on the hunt to find out who it is.

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The Women of the Copper Country

Mary Doria Russell

In July 1913, twenty-five-year-old Annie Clements has seen enough of the world to know that it’s unfair. She’s spent her whole life in the mining town of Calumet, Michigan, where men risk their lives for meager salaries—and have barely enough to put food on the table for their families. The women labor in the houses of the elite, and send their husbands and sons deep underground each day, dreading the fateful call of the company man telling them their loved ones aren’t coming home. So, when Annie decides to stand up for the entire town of Calumet, nearly everyone believes she may have taken on more than she is prepared to handle. Yet as Annie struggles to improve the future of her town, her husband becomes increasingly frustrated with her growing independence. She faces the threat of prison while also discovering a forbidden love. On her fierce quest for justice, Annie will see just how much she is willing to sacrifice for the families of Calumet.

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The Summer Cottage

Viola Shipman

Adie Lou Kruger’s ex never understood her affection for what her parents called their Cozy Cottage, the charming, ramshackle summer home—complete with its own set of rules for relaxing—that she’s inherited on Lake Michigan. But despite the fact she’s facing a broken marriage and empty nest, and middle age is looming in the distance, memories of happy childhoods on the beach give her reason for hope. She’s determined not to let her husband’s affair with a grad student reduce her to a cliché, or to waste one more minute in a career she doesn’t love, so it becomes clear what Adie Lou must do: rebuild her life and restore her cottage shingle by shingle, on her terms. But converting the beloved, weather-beaten structure into a bed-and-breakfast isn’t quite the efficient home-reno experience she’s seen on TV. Pushback from Saugatuck’s contentious preservation society, costly surprises and demanding guests were not part of the plan. But as the cottage comes back to life, Adie Lou does, too, finding support in unexpected places and a new love story on the horizon. One cottage rule at a time, Adie Lou reclaims her own strength, history and joy by rediscovering the magic in every sunset and sandcastle.

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Middlesex

Jeffrey Eugenides

Spanning eight decades and chronicling the wild ride of a Greek-American family through the vicissitudes of the twentieth century, Jeffrey Eugenides’ witty, exuberant novel on one level tells a traditional story about three generations of a fantastic, absurd, lovable immigrant family -- blessed and cursed with generous doses of tragedy and high comedy. But there’s a provocative twist. Cal, the narrator -- also Callie -- is a hermaphrodite. And the explanation for this takes us spooling back in time, through a breathtaking review of the twentieth century, to 1922, when the Turks sacked Smyrna and Callie’s grandparents fled for their lives. Back to a tiny village in Asia Minor where two lovers, and one rare genetic mutation, set our narrator’s life in motion. Middlesex is a grand, utterly original fable of crossed bloodlines, the intricacies of gender, and the deep, untidy promptings of desire. It’s a brilliant exploration of divided people, divided families, divided cities and nations -- the connected halves that make up ourselves and our world.

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Out of Sight

Elmore Leonard

World-class gentleman felon Jack Foley is busting out of Florida's Glades Prison when he runs head on into a shotgun-wielding Karen Sisco. Suddenly he's sharing a cramped car trunk with the classy, disarmed federal marshal and the chemistry is working overtime—and as soon as she escapes, he's already missing her. But there are bad men and a major score waiting for Jack in Motown. And the next time his path crosses Karen's, chances are she's going to be there for business, not pleasure.

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Detroit Noir

E.J. Olsen, John C. Hocking

Presents short stories about Detroit with noir and crime fiction by writers such as Joyce Carol Oates, Joe Boland, Peter Markus, and Lolita Hernandez.

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Detroit Shuffle

D. E. Johnson

Will Anderson and Elizabeth Hume get caught up in the political turmoil over women's suffrage in Detroit Shuffle, the fourth book in D. E. Johnson's critically acclaimed 1910s Detroit series Will Anderson inadvertently breaks up a key suffrage rally when he thwarts a gunman set on killing his lover, Elizabeth Hume. No one else saw the man, and Elizabeth believes he hallucinated the entire incident, a side effect of the radium "treatment" he received at Eloise Hospital. She asks him to sit on the sidelines while she and her companions try to get the women's suffrage amendment passed by Michigan voters. Instead, Will sets out to protect Elizabeth and prove his sanity. Will's nemesis, Sapphira Xanakis, contacts him with news of a conspiracy to defeat the amendment, led by Andrew Murphy, head of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association. Against his better judgment, Will believes she is trying to help. The man she directs him to dies under suspicious circumstances. An old acquaintance of Will's, who is working for the MLBA, is shot and killed in front of him. Still, no one believes Will, including his former ally, Detective Riordan, who not only is unwilling to help, but seems to have secrets of his own. With new death threats against Elizabeth and the next rally only a few days away, Will has to unravel a complicated tapestry of blackmail, double-dealing, conspiracy, and murder—before the killer has his next chance to strike. Johnson's immaculate plotting and high-tension writing make for a spellbinding read set in early twentieth-century Detroit.

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Motor City Burning: A Novel

Bill Morris

Detroit comes alive in a powerful and thrilling novel set amidst the chaos of the race riots and the serenity of Opening Day. Willie Bledsoe, once an idealistic young black activist, is now a burnt-out case. After leaving a snug berth at Tuskegee Institute to join the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, he has become bitterly disillusioned with the civil rights movement and its leaders. He returns home to Alabama to try to write a memoir about his time in the cultural whirlwind, but the words fail to come. The surprise return of his Vietnam veteran brother in the spring of 1967 gives Willie a chance to drive a load of smuggled guns to the Motor City – and make enough money to jump-start his stalled dream of writing his movement memoir. There, at Tiger Stadium on Opening Day of the 1968 baseball season – postponed two days in deference to the funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr. – Willie learns some terrifying news: the Detroit police are still investigating the last unsolved murder from the bloody, apocalyptic riot of the previous summer, and a white cop named Frank Doyle will not rest until the case is solved. And Willie is his prime suspect. Bill Morris's rich and thrilling new novel sets Doyle's hunt amid the history of one of America's most tortured and fascinating cities, as Doyle and Willie struggle with Detroit's deep racial divide, with revenge and forgiveness – and with the realization that justice is rarely attainable, and rarely just.

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Angels of Detroit

Christopher Hebert

Once an example of American industrial might, Detroit has gone bankrupt, its streets dark, its storefronts vacant. Miles of city blocks lie empty, saplings growing through the cracked foundations of abandoned buildings. In razor-sharp, beguiling prose, Angels of Detroit draws us into the lives of multiple characters struggling to define their futures in this desolate landscape: a scrappy group of activists trying to save the city with placards and protests; a curious child who knows the blighted city as her own personal playground; an elderly great-grandmother eking out a community garden in an oil-soaked patch of dirt; a carpenter with an explosive idea of how to give the city a new start; a confused idealist who has stumbled into debt to a human trafficker; a weary corporate executive who believes she is doing right by the city she remembers at its prime--each of their desires is distinct, and their visions for a better city are on a collision course. In this propulsive, masterfully plotted epic, an urban wasteland whose history is plagued with riots and unrest is reimagined as an ambiguous new frontier--a site of tenacity and possible hope. Driven by struggle and suspense, and shot through with a startling empathy, Christopher Hebert's magnificent second novel unspools an American story for our time.

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Abbott

Saladin Ahmed

Hard-nosed, chain-smoking tabloid reporter Elena Abbott investigates a series of grisly crimes that the police have ignored. Crimes she knows to be the work of dark occult forces. Forces that took her husband from her. Forces she has sworn to destroy.

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When Old Midnight Comes Along

Loren D. Estleman

Amos Walker is hired by one Francis X. Lawes, a private-sector mover and shaker in Detroit politics, to prove that his wife, Paula, who disappeared under sinister circumstances shortly more than six years ago, is dead, so he can remarry without having to wait for the seven-year-declaration-of-death rule to kick in. Walker’s investigation is complicated by two facts: the police still consider Lawes the prime suspect, and the first-responding officer in that old case was killed in the line of duty shortly afterwards and his notebook has never been found. The question for Walker is, if Lawes is guilty, why would he put himself in jeopardy of arrest and prosecution by giving the forensics team a body to work on?

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Song of Solomon

Toni Morrison

With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family’s origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized Black world.

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