Above image: legendary heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey in training. Dempsey inspired the character, Jack McCloskey, and McCloskey is inspired by his hero, Dempsey.
Maiden Lane is the sequel to Riverside Drive and the second book in the Border City Blues series of crime fiction stories set in the Windsor/ Detroit area during Prohibition. If you want to talk in terms of narrative strings, then Maiden Lane is the knot.
Introductions to Riverside Drive's and Maiden Lane's main characters can be found in young Jack McCloskey's smuggling adventure, The Lusty Beg, in a glimpse of the young Vera Maude in Delivery, a humorous tale of novocaine and moving-going in Enough Money For Popcorn, and a view into her life in New York City in Vera Maude's Christmas In the Village.
Januska is currently working on the follow-up to Maiden Lane, the third novel in the series, Prospect Avenue.
Maiden Lane begins with an ice-road bootlegging caper gone awry. Shorty Morand is anxious to prove himself not only to his boss, Jack McCloskey, but also to the soldiers enlisted under him. In the chaos that ensues on the brittle river, an item is discovered, a key, that may unlock the lost fortune of the Border Cities’ first crime lord, Richard Davies. The search is on for the lock to match it.
A runaway train nearly misses its stop at Michigan Central Station in Windsor, delivering not only its four shadowy expediters but also the heroine of Riverside Drive, Vera Maude Maguire, fresh from a false start in New York City.
In the frigid cold and blowing snow, Detective Campbell pauses to light his cigar at the top of Maiden Lane, and the moment he strikes his match a body comes flying out the window of Madame Zahra’s Astral Attic. Campbell turns just in time to see the body hit the icy cobblestone. Is it murder or suicide?
A quartet of dark figures begins to terrorize the city's underground. It’s all rumours and panic until bodies start accumulating in Dr. Laforet’s laboratory-cum-mortuary. Campbell feels he must resort to drastic, possibly supernatural measures.
A Windsor-born Hollywood starlet meanders her way back to the Border Cities, dragging all her vices with her and leaving them on McCloskey’s doorstep. Meanwhile McCloskey is still undergoing a range of post-war therapies. His sister-in-law Clara does the listening and then afterwards McCloskey hits the punching bag at the gym.
It’s a teetering questions-to-answers ratio in this take on 1920’s-era pulp crime fiction with a Border Cities twist.
And then there's the man that wades up to shore from the Detroit River several months later looking for some sort of delivery by the light of a west-end roadhouse.
Retailers: this way to copies of Maiden Lane:
In the U.S.: