Vaudeville actress backstage preparing for her next number.
Prospect Avenue is the third in the Border City Blues series of crime fiction novels - following Riverside Drive and Maiden Lane - set in the Windsor/ Detroit area during Prohibition. While the smuggling of contraband provides the backdrop to many of the tales, close attention is also paid to the popular culture, and the day-today-lives of ordinary people. And then there is the occasional romance.
Introductions to the Border City Blues series 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.
Inspired by vaudeville, Prospect Avenue combines wild bootlegging adventures along the shores of the Detroit River with some real showmanship on the stages of the Border Cities.
The action begins moments after the conclusion of Maiden Lane. Rescued from the Detroit River after a failed crossing in a smuggler's outboard, Quan Lee is now a refugee and becomes Jack McCloskey's protege. McCloskey hires Quan to take the lead in the kitchen at his new night club, Shady's. Also recruited is Pearl Shipley — former vaudeville performer and motion picture starlet — as the club’s entertainment director. Things are finally taking shape and the date is set for the grand opening.
Detective Campbell and Dr. Laforet return with a curious case involving the death of a labourer deep in the salt mines in the west end of the city. His body is found laid to rest in a niche in one of the galleries of the mine. No one is talking.
The intrepid Vera Maude is trying to balance her work at the bookstore with her romantic life, such as it is. She is coming to grips with her relationship with a man she’s aware is a notorious gangster — though they avoid the subject. When he is with her, McCloskey tries to shed all of that, and she tries to ignore it.
Meanwhile business is booming at Border Cities Wrecking and Salvage — McCloskey's front operation — and the gang is running into some challenges balancing parts supply and liquor demand. What's more, the murder of a Windsor police detective has law enforcement looking a little more closely into his affairs, McCloskey being a suspect.
The added twist is that along with the human trafficking now going on there is also drug trafficking. These elements are catching law enforcement off-guard as they run into something more sinister, something that stretches beyond the boundaries of the Border Cities.