In my recent but pre-blogging days, I read a review of Michael Harvey's "The Chicago Way" and quickly snapped up the audio. I enjoyed it from what I remember. Interesting protagonist. Based in Chicago (a much beloved city). Gritty. Fast-paced. Details, however, are fuzzy. Crime series are like that for me. Then I wandered off in other directions, being my unfocused self.
Then Swapna started raving about the second (The Fifth Floor) and third (The Third Rail) novels in the series, and it brought my attention back onto the matter of Michael Harvey and his business of murder and wickedness.
Synopsis: Michael Kelly, ex-police officer and private investigator to the downtrodden, is working on a case to help an old flame who is being abused by her husband. Who just happens to work for the Mayor of Chicago (aka The Fifth Floor). While tailing this nasty waste of space, he stumbles upon a murder that has roots going back to 1871, and the Great Chicago Fire. Michael discovers that it most certainly wasn't O'Leary's cow, nor lightning, that precipitated the night Chicago burned to the ground. When he follows the trail of crumbs, however, they all lead back to the fifth floor.
My thoughts: Score another one for Michael Harvey. This is what crime thrillers are all about. Granted, these are not books that you will remember in thirty years, but they are entertaining as hell. Here are some of the highlights, something I always need to hear when we are talking crime series.
Michael Kelly is a little rough around the edges. Can't seem to maintain a relationship (not for the lack of trying). But he is a good guy. He is true to his word, he has a conscience, he is cool under pressure. He isn't afraid to go up against Goliath if it is the right thing to do. It is easy to get in his corner and give him a fist pump or two. Plus I think he might be hot.
If you like Chicago, and want a back door tour of the city, look no further. The tried and true establishments, not the ones on Michigan Avenue but down back alleys and side streets, the ones open 24 hours or have a particular infamous reputation...that is where Michael Kelly goes. And I was taking notes. These places exist...I Googled them. Don't think I won't hunt them down next August when I'm there.
And the Great Chicago Fire. Is there anyone out there that isn't interested in this bit of American history? Even though I think the premise is sketchy, there is still alot of great facts here that you can use at a dinner party to impress your friends.
There is certainly enough here to grab onto, and keep your interest in installments to come. Speaking of which..."The Third Rail" is on my listening list in the very near future.
A word about the audio production: Our narrator for this book, and all of Harvey's audiobooks is Stephen Hoye. If I were in the business of casting a narrator for this series, I might not have picked Hoye. His voice is lacking an edge, in fact it is melodic and playful. But after two audiobooks, I'm OK with him. He does a great job in distinguishing between characters, and is easy with an accent.
4 out of 5 stars