Monday, Nov 20, 2017
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BOOK REVIEW

Detroit sets stage for debut thriller by Michigan author

Stephen Mack Jones will sign copies of novel at Aunt Agatha's in Ann Arbor

Stephen Mack Jones found inspiration close to home for his compelling debut novel August Snow.

The poet and award-winning playwright from Farmington Hills, Mich., introduces title character August Snow, a former Detroit cop who tackled corruption in the police department and the city head-on. 

Snow’s efforts to clean up the city cost him his job and numerous friends, but resulted in a $12 million wrongful termination settlement.

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Author Stephen Mack Jones will sign copies of his debut novel ‘August Snow’ on Thursday at Aunt Agatha’s, 213 S. Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor.

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After about a year of traveling abroad, Snow can’t resist the pull of Detroit’s Mexicantown and returns to the house in which he grew up.

At first, he begins putting his new wealth to work for the city, buying and renovating homes in his neighborhood. He’s quick to help out his neighbors and anyone else who needs a hand. 

Soon, however, he is summoned to the Grosse Pointe home of Eleanor Paget, a powerful business magnate and well-known philanthropist.

Snow had met Paget while he was investigating her husband’s death years before, and Paget wants the former officer to investigate suspicious activity at her wealth management bank.

Snow declines, and a day later Paget is dead.

Though the woman’s death is ruled a suicide, Snow has his doubts and is immediately drawn to the investigation — and into the sights of a deadly criminal underworld.

Drawing on the few friends he has remaining and a new ones he picks up along the way, Snow battles white-collar embezzlers and assassins who might be connected to the government.

As a sort of anti-hero, Snow is likable for his quest to do what’s righ. Guided by his own conflicted sense of right and wrong, Snow becomes a thorn in the side of the justice system — first the Detroit Police Department and later the FBI.

In many ways, Snow is representative of Detroit — he’s tough and resilient even when the odds are stacked against him.

Jones clearly has an affection for Detroit and draws on his familiarity with the city to make the scenes come alive. And the author’s background as a playwright is evident in the strong one-on-one dialogue that keeps the story moving.

August Snow is an entertaining read that gives Jones — and Detroit — plenty to celebrate.

And why not? As Snow might say, There “ain’t no party like a Dee-troit party.”

Stephen Mack Jones will sign copies for “August Snow” at 7 p.m. Thursday at Aunt Agatha’s, 213 S. Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor.

Contact Shannon E. Kolkedy at: skolkedy@theblade.com.

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