One of the most interesting new trends in crime fiction is the regional historical thriller, and nobody does it better than Loren D. Estleman, whose books about Detroit's past--Aces and Eights, Billy Gashade, City of Widows, Edsel, Red Highway, Stamping Ground, Stress--turn that city's muscular and often bloody heritage into absorbing fiction.
In Jitterbug, Estelman shows us Detroit during World War II, where Lieutenant Maximillian "Zag" Zagreb heads up a team of overage misfits at the police department's racket squad. A particularly nasty killer called Kilroy appears to be targeting and then slicing up hoarders of ration coupons, and Lieutenant Zagreb's investigators are the thin red line deployed to stop him. They use some extremely unorthodox tactics and find themselves in the midst of a race riot, but Kilroy continues to elude them and fight his private war against profiteers. The heavy is a masterful creation, a believable psychopath who wears a stolen Army Air Force uniform and has made up a heroic career to cover his rejection by military psychiatrists. "On those rare occasions when he did not stand outside himself," Estelman writes, "he could hear the thump of the mortars and chomping of the heavy machine guns behind their sandbags on the hills." --Dick Adler