Alter Road


Fiction - Thriller - Political
302 Pages
Reviewed on 07/31/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Susan Sewell for Readers' Favorite

A woman's death inadvertently starts a riot in downtown Detroit, and the city officials lose control of the situation, causing a civil war in the explosive thriller Alter Road by Mark James. When the poverty-stricken residents of Detroit are unable to pay their bills, the power company shuts them off, leaving them without heat. Due to the citizens using hazardous heating sources to keep their homes warm, the city is experiencing an increase in fires and fire-related deaths. When a beloved teacher and her family are burned to death in a fire, the community gathers together and marches to the power company to protest. However, some of the protesters get carried away, losing sight of their reason for marching, and start a riot. At the Mayor's request to protect the valuable downtown buildings, the police go on the offensive. Their aggression triggers an unwanted response and the situation escalates to violent behavior on both sides of the line. Now the original purpose is lost in the conflict and the riot becomes a war. Can the city officials gain control before it is too late? Or is the nation already facing a civil war?

Given our present political climate, the acceleration of violence during protests, and the possible avenues it can take is terrifyingly and realistically portrayed in the breathtaking thriller, Alter Road by Mark James. Filled with heart-pounding and extreme action, it is an intense story with an explosive plot and a riveting storyline. The gravity and impact of the city's dire situation are felt in the first paragraph. It is a spellbinding story that kept me on the edge of my seat until the final page. This is an exciting and mind-blowing novel, and I recommend it for those who relish an electrifying suspense story with a disquieting edge.

Military Writers Society of America

Alter Road by Mark James is described by the author as a political thriller. The title refers to the road that is a border between troubled Detroit and wealthy Grosse Pointe.

The 1967 Detroit riots lasted five days in the heat of the summer. The seven days of riot described in this book, set in a brutally cold winter in Detroit, were sparked by power shut-offs for non-payment, which led to many fires as residents tried to heat with dangerous gas heaters. The effects of the conditions leading up to various actions and to the riots are described from multiple viewpoints: students at Wayne State, various gangs, militia, politicians, CID, and the U.S. Army.

The backdrop of the riots is critical to the story—significant unemployment, decreasing city budgets which affected infrastructure as well as the number of police available, and the huge number of abandoned homes and businesses.

The death of a popular retired school teacher and her family provided the spark to set off the riots that spread to several neighborhoods and other cities in Michigan. Criminals took advantage of the chaos to kill members of other gangs, and some were smart enough to avoid any area that was being photographed by the media, knowing that after the rioters were controlled, law enforcement could use that footage. The Army’s massive numbers, equipment, and organization were finally needed to end the riots.

All in all, a very disturbing examination.