At Least 7 Literary Fictional Thrillers That Are Set in Michigan
Recently, a post on Michigan's Reddit page has revealed that there are a lot of books that are set in Michigan.
The post, which you can see here, was made by u/My1stTW and reads,
I love reading books that mention places I personally know, preferably action/adventures/thriller or detective books. I have not found many except for one John Sandford book based on the UP and another one little bit of Grand Rapids.What are some books based on Michigan?
As a reader, I had no idea there were so many answers to this specific question. With over 150 comments, here are at least 7 thriller-leaning fictional books that are all set in the state of Michigan:
1. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Station Eleven, set in the days after civilization's collapse, focuses on a Hollywood star and a group of fellow actors traveling around the Great Lakes region risking everything for art and humanity, according to goodreads.com. There was even a mini-series based on the book developed by HBO Max. See the trailer below:
2. The Firekeepers Daughter by Angeline Boulley
Released just last year, The Firekeeper's Daughter is already a winner of multiple awards, is a New York Times #1 best seller, and is soon to be adapted as a Netflix series. The goodreads.com description of the book reads,
As a biracial, unenrolled tribal member and the product of a scandal, Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in—both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. When her family is struck by tragedy, Daunis puts her dreams on hold to care for her fragile mother. The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother’s hockey team.
Set in Michigan's UP, this is a young adult book. But, u/nyxortreat, who recommended it on the above-mentioned Reddit thread, said that it's an older YA book and very good.
3. Out of Sight by Elmore Leonard
More for the adults, Out of Sight is described as a "sexy thriller" focusing on U.S. Marshal Karen Sisco following expert criminal Jack Foley from Miami to Detroit. The Amazon description reads,
Neither counted on sharing a cramped car trunk—or on a sizzling chemistry that’s working overtime. As soon as Sisco escapes, Foley is already missing her. Sisco can’t forget Foley either—and she isn’t about to let him go. Too bad the next time their paths cross, it’s going to be about business, not pleasure.
This book was also adapted into the 1998 movie of the same title starring none other than George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez:
4. Bird Box by Josh Malerman
That's right. The very popular Netflix movie, Bird Box, was actually adapted from Josh Malerman's novel of the same name. While the Netflix movie took the story to California, the novel was actually set in Detroit.
If you're unfamiliar, the story follows Malorie, a woman with two young kids trying to navigate a world where something has the power to drive anyone to deadly violence after just one glimpse at it. She eventually embarks on a journey to a place where they might be safe. But the entire journey has to be made blindfolded. Check out the trailer for the Netflix movie below:
5. Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
Broken Monsters is described by goodreads.com as "a genre-redefining thriller about broken cities, broken dreams, and broken people trying to put themselves back together again." The main character, Detective Gabriella Versado comes across a body that has been fused with a deer and must try to catch the gruesome killer. It sounds unsettling and definitely slated for the adults.
6. The Alex McKnight Series from Steve Hamilton
Rather than a singular book, this entire series is based in the town of Paradise, Michigan. Former Detroit cop, Alex McKnight, traded his badge for a cabin in the woods after a near-fatal injury left him with a bullet lodged near his heart. But, when an old murderer returns, he must unravel the truth. The first book in the series is linked above. But, you can find the full list at goodreads.com.
7. Brown Dog by Jim Harrison
Another series set in Michigan's UP, Brown Dog is the story of a down-on-his-luck Michigan Indian who would rather fish than work. His encounter with an archeologist leads him on a journey to Los Angeles and back to Michigan where he eventually seeks stability and a family.
Perhaps less of a thriller, the Brown Dog series, apparently, has a cult following. Read more on goodreads.com.
There were so many more recommendations on the original Reddit thread which you can see here. You can also peruse Good Reads' list of books set in Michigan which offers 95 options.
While all of the options listed above are linked to Amazon, just know that there are local, independent bookshops where you can also find these books. If they don't carry them, they can probably order a specific book just for you. Check out the list below: