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Writer and TV producer Harvey's debut novel, in which Chicago PI Michael Kelley seeks the solution to an eight-year-old rape and battery case, is so old-school hard-boiled it should have "caper" in the title. The first-person narrative comes complete with such standard ingredients as a murdered former partner, several sultry babes, mobsters, tough cops and characters from high society as well as low. The last thing this moderately engrossing example of Raymond Chandler lite needs is a reader determined to call attention to its weaknesses. Unfortunately, Stephen Hoye's idea of noir coolspeak is an exaggerated emphasis on certain key words in a sentence ("Three questions buzzedthrough the early morning fogI call my brain...."). The result is an annoying singsong that pushes the tough prose into parody and, in the case of Hoye's absurdly breathy, insinuating female voices, beyond. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover (Reviews, June 25). (Aug.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
The latest incarnation of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe is ex-Chicago cop Michael Kelly, who narrates his tale in crisp staccato prose. Kelly is drawn into an eight-year-old rape case after his former partner is found dead on Navy Pier. The rape victim becomes Kelly's latest client, a woman whose story intrigues a DNA analyst and a TV anchorwoman. Kelly's investigation soon takes him into deep, dangerous waters, with connections to the mob, a cover-up, and a serial killer. Debut author Harvey borrows elements from Chandler and Robert B. Parker's Spenser to create an appealing, crusading sleuth. Despite a certain lack of originality in the serial killer, who resembles notorious murderer John Wayne Gacy, this is recommended for all public libraries. Harvey is the cocreator of television's Cold Case Files, and that may add patron appeal.
—Lesa M. Holstine
I was on the second floor of a three-story walk-up on Chicago’s North Side. Outside the Hawk blew hard off the lake and flattened itself against the bay windows. I didn’t care. I had my feet up, a cup of Earl Grey, and my own list of the ten greatest moments in Cubs history.
For the first half hour I was stuck on number one. Then I realized the greatest moments at Clark and Addison are always about to be. With that I settled in and mapped out the starting rotation for next year’s world champions. That’s when I saw him.
Actually, I sensed John Gibbons before I saw him. But that’s just how it was with Gibbons. From waist to shoulders he was of one dimension, that being massive. His head sat on a bulldog neck, with short ears and gray hair clipped close. His nose showed the back rooms of Chicago’s alleys. His eyes were still clear, cool, and blue. He cornered me with a look and smiled.
Gibbons had been retired from the force five years now. I hadn’t seen him in four, but it didn’t matter. We had some history. He shook off the rain and threw a chair toward my desk. He sat down as if he belonged there and always had. I put the Cubs away, pulled open the bottom drawer, and found a bottle of Powers Irish. John took it straight. Just to be sociable, I gave Sir Earl a jolt.
“What’s up, John?”
He hesitated. For the first time I noticed his suit, uncomfortably cheap, and his tie, a clip-on. In his hands he twisted a soft felt hat.
“Got a case for you, Michael.”
He always called me Michael, which was okay since that was my name. I didn’t want to derail him, but my curiosity held sway.
“Jesus, John, who’s dressing you these days?”
The big man reddened a bit and looked down at the outfit.
“Pretty bad, huh? The wife. Did you know the wife, Michael?”
I shook my head. I didn’t know anything about John that wasn’t three years old. His personal file at that time read widower. His first wife, an Irishwoman from Donegal, got a message from her doctor one day about an X-ray. Two weeks later, she was gone. I had sent a card and given John a call.
“The wife, the second wife that is, she left about a year ago,” Gibbons said. “She was a younger type, you know.”
John always had a weakness for them. Women, that is. It’s been my experience if you have that sort of weakness, the younger ones tend only to aggravate the situation.
“So you been dressing yourself?” I said.
“For some time.”
“And you get all dressed up to come here?”
“To see me?”
“I got a case, Michael.”
“So I gather.”
I freshened his drink and poured a bit more hot water into my mug.
“You remember 1997.”
“Before my time,” I said.
“Not by much. Anyway, it was Christmas Eve. I had the windows rolled down. You remember I used to keep the windows down. Even when it was cold. Well, I’m driving the squad by myself. Down in South Chicago.”
I knew South Chicago. A collection of warehouses and whorehouses. Dry docks and rough trade. A nasty bit of Chicago, crumbling at the edges and blending into Indiana gray.
“I hear a shot,” John said. “Roll around a corner and see this girl running down the middle of the street. Head-to-toe blood. The guy is right behind her. He’s got a .38 in one hand and a knife in the other. Sticking her as they run.”
John closed his eyes for a moment and left the room. When he opened them, he was back. I didn’t feel so comfortable anymore.
“Couple decades on the job, Michael. Never saw anything close to it. I get out of the car, she’s coming right at me. I just catch the both of them. He’s on top and I can still hear that knife. Made like a suction noise. I reach around with my piece and put it to his head. For the first time he registers me and stops.”
“None of this is ringing a bell, John.”
“It should ring a bell, huh?”
“Well, let me finish. So we are all three on the ground. Me with the gun to his head and the girl in between us. Her face was about six inches from mine. I could smell the death on her, you know?”
“So we untangle. I put the guy on the ground and cuff him. He says nothing. I slap him around a bit. Still nothing. I look at the girl. She’s cut up pretty good, stabbed more than once in the chest. I get a pulse and call for the medics.”
John got up and walked across to the window.
“Hot in here, isn’t it?”
John cracked the window.
“It’s thirty-five outside with freezing rain and gusts,” I said.
“Gusts?” His shoulders turned my way and the rest followed.
“That’s what they called them,” I said. “Gusts. Gusts ain’t good.”
John left the window open and walked back to the chair.
“So we get this girl into an ambulance. She was a looker, Michael. Did I tell you that?”
I was waiting for that part. “Let me guess. You fell for her.”
“Jesus, Michael. She was covered in blood and half-dead. Besides, she was just a kid.”
“Anyway, I find out she was running from his car. It’s a shitbox Chevy idling in the middle of the street. I pop the trunk and what do I find?”
“Sheets of plastic. Rolls of the stuff. And rope. Lots of rope. I open the driver’s door. There’s plenty of blood. Under both seats, I find custom-made carriers. In one, he’s got a bulldog shotgun. In the other, he’s got a machete strapped up there. Over both visors, two more leather fittings. One for the gun he had. The other for the knife.”
“Not the guy’s first dance?”
“No sir,” John said. “So I take him downtown and throw him in the slam. It’s past midnight, I figure I can sort him out tomorrow.”
“I come in the next day. He’s gone.”
“The chief then. You didn’t know him. Dave Belmont.”
“Heard the name,” I said.
“Nice guy, career cop. Dead now. Didn’t ever want any beefs. Just keep your mouth shut and put your time in. That kind of guy. Anyway, he takes me into the office. Says forget about it. Says the guy is gone and it’s over. Never happened. Then he gives me this.”
From his pocket John Gibbons took out a piece of green velvet. Clipped inside was a silver Police Medal. The highest award a Chicago cop can get. Score one and your career is made.
“Those are hard to come by, John.”
“Part of the deal. I get the medal, a pay raise, and promotion. In return . . . ”
“You forget about it.”
“That’s right. So I did.”
“And nine years later you want to do what?”
“Well, I really don’t want to do anything. But then I got this.”
From his other pocket John Gibbons pulled a letter.
“And what is that?”
“It’s a letter.”
“I can see that.”
“From the girl. The girl from that night.”
“From nine years ago?”
“She didn’t die, I take it.”
“We need to help her, Michael.”
“We . . . ”
“I poked around a bit.“ Gibbons shrugged. “Didn’t really get anywhere.”
As a detective, my old partner was a good piece of muscle. Someone to break down doors, even if he had no idea what might be on the other side.
“You’re the best I ever worked with,” Gibbons continued. “You know it. I know it. Everyone on the force knew it. If you can help out, I’d be grateful.”
The Irishman threw an envelope across the table. I opened it up and enjoyed the warm feeling money can sometimes give a person. Then I looked up and across the desk.
”Tell me about the girl,” I said.
Gibbons began to talk. I picked up the letter and, reluctantly, began to read.
From the Hardcover edition.
Posted April 14, 2009
I am surprised at the universal review acclaim for this book. It is a throwback to the '30's and '40's mystery genre, sparse language, tough guy attitudes, etc. But the plot was average at best. Lots of killings, little overt sadness, the investigation must go on, tough guy risks. But the villain was predictable, the leaps of logic significant and the work just not that impressive. It tried to be somewhat like Michael Connelly, just substitute Chicago for Los Angeles, with a little Dennis Lehane thrown in, but in content it fell way short. Okay for a fun read, but for good literature, stick with the originals.
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Posted June 23, 2012
Posted March 30, 2011
My proximity to Chicago lent a lot of context and enjoyment to this story for me, so I'm not sure how differently it would play otherwise. If you're a sucker for campy noir dialogue, a quick-moving story that isn't overly taxing on your brain, and stereotypical tough guy action, I suspect you'll like it. I read this type of book for simple entertainment, and "The Chicago Way" was on target.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 28, 2010
Any book based in Chicago will automatically get two stars, but this author earned himself the other two. The author creates real characters with life. You feel for them and get to know them with out him throwing it in your face. It is a fun short read, but the author lost a star for the climax (you were thinking I got my math wrong, huh!?!?!?)...C'mon really???Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 14, 2010
I Also Recommend:
I enjoyed reading this first book in the Michael Kelly series. I grew up in Chicago and didn't really like the liberties he took with the City. He didn't use the Mayor, but used a fictional character. I believe it would have more reality to it if he had used the real names of people such as the mayor.
As to the story, it really kept me reading. It was the first book I read on Nook and I finished it in five days. That is a fast read for me.
Overall, I would say it catches the readers attention and keeps it moving. Not the best I have read based in Chicago, but it was a good read.
Posted July 31, 2010
But almost from the start I was pulled into the story. Characters are interesting and empatetic. I wull recomeend this book to all that love this genre. thank you Michael for writing this novel.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 29, 2010
If you're looking for a good, dark read - grab this book. Excellent writing and a main character that you can't forget, this is a series I'm looking forward to seeing more of.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 4, 2010
Posted April 7, 2010
Posted February 20, 2010
I Also Recommend:
This had the old school detective, Mickey Spillane, style to it that eased into a more natural flow. By the middle of the book the style gave way to a captivating story line. I was pleasantly surprised. I recommend you read this one.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 22, 2009
Posted September 7, 2009
If you like LA Confidential, Cold Case Files, and just crime thrillers in general, you will like this one. Great plot and plot twists. Engaging and a energetic read. Definitely recommend.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 30, 2009
The writing was a little bumpy. The author may have been going for a Chicago edge in his style but it came off as a little rough, to me. The overall story and character development was okay.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 25, 2009
The story caught my interest on the first page. I love stories based in Chicago and found the city background easy to follow. Written in a classic PI style, the story moves quickly. The characters were not overdone, so it was easy to follow who was doing what.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 7, 2009
Considering it was the author's first book, it was very good. I Had a difficult time getting started as it appeared to be just another detective tough guy story. Once I got into the story it was interesting and unique. I appreciate the fact he did not have too many characters. It was easy to remember who the various characters were. It didn't make any difference in my opinion of the book, but I wondered why he had so many one and two page chapters.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 9, 2009
I am looking forward to more in the Michael Kelly Series! Michael Harvey is off to an exciting start! My husband grew up in Chicago and loved the accuracy of the neighborhoods as well as the title itself.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 23, 2009
I was hesitant to buy this book but am so glad I did. I have shared it with family members and they have also enjoyed the book so it was worth the money! I hope to purchase all of his books in the future!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 9, 2009
Harvey captured the unique magic that is Chicago. His Michael Kelly is never boring and never predictable. Maybe a little Sam Spade-ish, but in a good, "guy thing" way.<BR/>I will read all his books...keep'em coming, Michael.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 1, 2009
I Also Recommend:
Anxious to read his next book "The Fifth Floor".<BR/><BR/>Stayed true to Chicago - so true that I could picture many scenes; twists and turns throughout, ending not what I thought - always a good thing.<BR/><BR/>As a huge fan of Ken Bruen, The Chicago Way is all there - not as deep on protagonist dynamics as Bruen is, but Michael Harvey seems very promising. A great read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 15, 2007
This novel is fantastic. Harvey has transformed his non-fiction work with Cold Case into a great fictional read. I could not help but hear Bill Curtis's voice in my head during the entire read. This book reads as well as some of the best historical fiction thrillers I have come across. (e.g. The Alienist) I highly reccommend this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.