on 6 June 2008
With his first book, Michael Harvey has written a fast-paced, stylish murder mystery featuring a tough-talking Irish cop turned private investigator that does for the city of Chicago what Elmore Leonard did for Detroit, Raymond Chandler did for Los Angeles and Robert B. Parker does for Boston. Harvey's main character, while not the most original character in the genre, has the potential to "carry" a successful series a la Harry Bosch, Spenser, Matthew Scudder, etc. If you are in the mood for a book that offers first-rate suspense and is fueled with energy, wit and the gritty atmosphere of a major city, The Chicago Way is a book I'd recommend highly. With his "first swing of the bat," Harvey shows that he has the potential to be a leading "hitter" in the mystery series category.
on 21 November 2011
I picked up Michael Harvey's second Kelly outing 'The Fifth Floor' whilst on a visit to Seattle a few weeks ago. It's a smart novel and so acquired two more from Amazon. This, his first novel, is probably even better. It is well written - in that self-conscious first person noire style we have grown to love from rebel private detectives. The characterisation is excellent and it's well plotted, too. The dialogue and the internal narrative gets you hooked. Strongly recommended.
on 31 October 2012
I must agree with many of the other 5 star reviewers that this is a book which is hard to put down. So what if it follows a tried and tested formula ... it's not the formula that's important but what you do with it!
And more importantly, is it entertaining? Rest assured, it is. An ex-cop, now PI, who is investigating a cold case but never quite sure who the bad guy (or gal) really is. Consequently, neither do we. It had quick, witty dialogue and was descriptive and exciting so it met all the criteria I want in an American mystery novel. Added to which, it needed (a little bit) more concentration than is required for some other authors of this genre so I felt I'd had a "bumpy ride" with twists and turns galore by the end.
I'm now looking to download the second and third book in this series which is usually a good sign. Highly recommended if this type of book usually appeals.
This one is an entry in the vast array of Raymond Chandler-type novels. It has all the elements - a tough-guy hero with a smart mouth, brutal and often corrupt cops, a mystery from the past, a selection of broken and lonely people, and some pretty and promiscuous women.
The story is perfectly readable but in emulating the style of a master it is always going to fall short in much the same way as Robert Parker's Spenser novels also miss the mark. All the way through reading it I felt that there was something missing - possibly the spark of originality.
Readable but not remarkable.
on 19 March 2013
I found this quite a riveting read. I suppose in other hands it could've been a by-the-numbers thriller-without-thrills but, considering this was Harvey's first novel, his style is so confident and readable it managed to push any of my doubts aside. Those doubts, initially, weren't helped by the use of a quote from De Palma's movie version of The Untouchables, actually crediting Sean Connery for the quote - you know the one:
"You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way."
It seemed kind of hokey to have that quote up in lights before the first chapter had even started, and I must admit it had put me off reading any further for quite a while. I was in the mood for a crime novel, though, and this was the one I'd had the longest, so . . .
Written in the first person, the writing has that hard-bitten, noir-ish feel that you'd associate with the likes of Elmore Leonard and Dashiell Hammett. Obviously, it's not quite on the level of those two authors, but it's laconic, full of self-deprecating humour and neat turns of phrase. For a change, the 'hero', Michael Kelly - an Irish-American ex-cop turned private investigator - is not down on his luck, scratching around for cases and money. In fact, money doesn't seem much of a stumbling block for him, especially as he has an envelope full of the stuff thrust at him very early on.
The crime itself is one of those cold case types. His ex-partner, John Gibbons, comes to him about a rape case that happened some eight years previously. The victim has suddenly reappeared and enlisted Gibbons's help in trying to close the still unsolved crime. Gibbons believes Kelly to be the best detective he ever worked with, and wants his help (cos if he didn't it wouldn't be much of a book!). From small beginnings the story quickly spirals outwards, and it's full of surprises, right up to the necessarily downbeat ending. As it deals with the aftermath of this most unpleasant crime, it is never graphic or gratuitous. I thought he handled it with a welcome degree of subtlety.
As I've only recently been to Chicago, and many of the streets and landmarks in the novel are fresh in my memory, this only added to the enjoyment. Harvey has a great knack with description, and the atmosphere of the city comes across very well. Perhaps some of the peripheral characters could have done with a little more depth (there are some definite stereotypes that crop up), and Kelly himself has perhaps a few too many cliched skeletons in his closet, but overall I thought it was a cracking debut, and I'm looking forward to reading more.
on 27 January 2009
I always feel I'm taking a risk with a new author,but let me say that Michael Harvey'is a no risk kind of guy. By the time I was at page 8 I was hooked,and the hook was still in there when the book was finished. As the saying goes,! there no second chance to make a first impression!. Well impress he did. Character Ex cop Michael Kelly takes you on none stop ride through Chicago,and you just know he's going to get what he wants.
It's 6.30 AM now,and I'v just finished the book and looking for another to take its place..!not an easy task!..
As a regular visitor to Chicago - and love the place -. I feel like I'm there again with this book. To say I started reading it with doubts in my mind,Michael Harvey' soon swept them away. I hope that P.I Michael Kelly is here to stay. Well done Amazon.Thank you.. thank you.. thank you..
Has it got my five stars. You bet it has.
After reading this book again,a thing I never do. I have to add to my review. I finished the book the other day,and was out of things to read,so decided to read this one again. It's got to be the first time for me to do this so soon after having read it before. Michael Harvey had me hanging on to the plot so much,that it was worth a second hit.
The down side of this is that as far as I know there is only another one to go at this point, as he only did two. The second one The Fifth Floor,and that,s on its way to me now. !Come on postman get a move on..
For a first book its got me looking out for more of P.I Michael Kelly.
It's been a long time since I picked a book up,where the ending grabs you and throws you up against the wall. Just when you think you know who's done it,Michael Harvey shows you that it's not the time to be too smart too soon.
If you have a spare few pounds to spend. Spend it on this.- EXCELLENT -.
on 13 April 2012
I really only bought The Chicago Way as it was offered as one of the Amazon/Kindle Daily Deals and I thought it sounded interesting. I generally enjoy detective fiction and am a big fan of a noir-type of stories.
Michael Harvey reminds me very much of Raymond Chandler in his "Farewell My Lovely" and "The Big Sleep" days. Harvey really writes noir detective fiction with a modern-day take and it works incredibly well. His characters are very believable and his stories are very cohesive and easy to follow. He doesn't over-complicate the plots but, at the same time, you do have to pay attention! He has a knack of drawing you in from the first page and I'm now a committed fan of his writing.
After reading this book, I downloaded pretty much everything else he'd written as I genuinely enjoyed it so much.
But, be warned, this is the type of book you'll start reading at 11 o'clock at night and then, at four in the morning when you're still reading, you'll be annoyed with yourself for not going to sleep earlier! His books are real page-turners and I find it almost impossible to put them down once started.
I'd highly recommend any of his books.
on 7 May 2008
So what if it's another first person thriller about a tough PI with an intelligent literary streak and a forlorn heart. I think there's room for another when the style and voice is as strong as in this debut novel. OK, so the storyline is a bit run-of-the-mill: ex-policeman turned PI is asked by a past colleague to help in a rape cold case. There are the usual twists and turns, serial killers and betrayals, with a final twist. It's all pleasantly readable because of the witty fast style and detailed setting (Chicago), though I'm hoping for greater things with the second book in the series (The Fifth floor coming August 08).
on 18 April 2013
For this reader Michael Harvey's freshman venture into the hard-boiled crime drama genre is more James M. Cain than Dashiell Hammett and the hero is more Dana Andrews in Laura than Humphrey Bogart. If compared to the noir movies of the 40's the reader is left with a picture of Robert Mitchum or Sterling Hayden as the protagonist Mike Kelly, Barbara Stanwyck as Elaine Remington and Lauren Bacall as Diane Lindsey. Today casting directors would probably give us Gerard Butler, Cameron Diaz, and Nicole Kidman in those parts.
The story is a fascinating patchwork of Chicago settings from the Drake Hotel ballroom to the back alleys of the windy city "burbs" with bleak pessimistic observations on everything from serial killers, politics, race and gender to pondering observations of ancient Greek philosophers.
Unlike many writers today who feel obligated to fill 500 plus pages with entire chapters describing the color of the sky, Harvey's background in journalism and television documentary production is obvious in his writing style. His sparse "who, what, where, when, why and how" approach to storytelling is a good thing. He hooks you from chapter one, succinctly gives you the information you need while moving the story along at a healthy clip. Things never get boring and the plot never lags as we play "armchair shamus" to Mike Kelly's real deal.
This is a better than average debut and I look forward to another walk on Chicago's wild side in the company of PI Mike Kelly. 3 1/2 stars
If you're looking for a reasonably entertaining and utterly disposable modern crime novel, this should suffice. As the debut novel from the co-creator of the TV show "Cold Case Files," it should come as no surprise that the Chicago-set story is sparked by the reinvestigation of a buried old crime, and that advances in forensic science play a large role in the plot. The tone is neo-hard boiled, with the author striving for the stylish patter of Raymond Chandler, and generally sounding forced. What might work in the mouth of Bogart generally sounds contrived in the mouth of Michael Kelly, the book's Irish-American ex-cop protagonist.
Kelly is a pretty blah hero, a cardboard collage of hundreds of other fictional private-eyes: Ex-cop? Check. Best detective on the force? Check. Railroaded out of the force? Check. A manly man? Check. Grew up tough? Check. Irish-American or Italian-American? Check. Knows how to box? Check. No apparent good friends? Check. Attractive ladies all over him? Check. Random cultural quick? Check (he likes to read ancient Greek). And so on. There's nothing to really distinguish him from hundreds of his fictional fellow detectives, and nothing about him is likely to linger in the reader's head once the final page is turned. (Except maybe that he drinks tea.)
The story kicks off with a surprise visit from Kelly's old partner (also retired from the force), who is looking into an old unsolved case of his. Only the rape and stabbing isn't just unsolved, it's been erased, and the victim has come back years later wanting to know why. This is a reasonably interesting premise with one major flaw -- the perp has to either be someone relatively powerful, or connected to someone with the access and juice to sweep a major crime completely under the rug. Since there's only one character who fits that bill, it's pretty easy to figure out that he/she is deeply involved, thus robbing the story of a good deal of its dramatic tension. (And in one of a length list of coincidences, it also doesn't help that Kelly knows this person.)
Rather conveniently (since DNA figures prominently) Kelly's childhood buddy just happens to be a forensic guru with full lab skills, recently assigned to an interagency Rape Task Force. This friendship allows the story to continue, as Kelly milks her for all kinds of information and help. The coincidences and connections swirling around Kelly just multiply over the course of the story, getting increasingly hard to believe. And once a death-row serial killer enters the plot, things just get too ridiculous to take seriously. The author struggles mightily to toss various red herrings in the reader's path in a clumsy attempt to preserve a few "gotcha" twists about the identity of various culprits, but these prove to be totally ineffective. I don't read crime stories trying to figure out "whodunnit" before the detective can, but in this case, the major elements are pretty obvious.
In sum, the book passes the time easily enough, but it breaks no new ground in any direction. It may be that in subsequent books, Kelly will develop a little depth, or that Chicago will be more than a flimsy backlot set for the series, or that the author will move into more complex and plausible plotting, but it's doubtful I'll be picking any up to find out.