When it comes to the crime thriller series, I've got a list of them in which I am fully invested. Lucas Davenport. Jack Reacher. Stephanie Plum. Tempe Brennan. Kinsey Millhone. And this guy, Michael Kelly. "We All Fall Down" is the fourth installment of a Chicago noir series that features a police officer-turned-investigator who manages to sniff out every bit of political shenanigans and murder most foul in the Windy City. For someone who loves this genre and loves her Chi-town, this combination is irresistible.
Synopsis: Evil is afoot yet again in Chicago, but this time the implications are much more terrifying than your average maniac with a gun and an agenda. Under the streets of Chicago in the subway tunnels, a pathogen is released that has the potential to kill millions. With symptoms that appear to cover all the bases...bleeding out, flu-like nausea, upper respiratory distress, airborne transmission, 100% mortality rate...it is obvious that this is biological weapon has been invented with a specific goal in mind: annihilation of the human race.
But as with all Michael Harvey novels, this is not a cut-and-dried case of a chemist run amuck. Michael Kelly is pulled into the investigation through political channels, and discovers layers of corruption within the police force, ambitious drug lords, FBI agents with hidden agendas, and at the very bottom of it all, greed.
My thoughts: I have to hand it to Harvey. The man is EFFICIENT. If you want to dip your toe in a complicated crime thriller puzzle with very little time investment, he's your guy. I mean, this book was only 7 discs! No time is wasted, there isn't a glut of words. From the first paragraph, you are thrust into the action, and you don't come up for air until the last word. And the plot is complex. You most likely are not going to figure anything out while you are in the throes of unraveling threads. You are doing good just to keep up.
The downside of his efficiency is that some character development is lost in the process. Over the four books, of course, you have a good sense of Kelly, but from novel to novel he doesn't change his modus operandi. He puts up with the mayor's meddling, he attempts but flounders at relationships, he has a good heart and ultimately makes sound decisions. He is smart and wily. He chases bad guys. I'd look for some evolution of Michael Kelly soon just to keep things fresh and keep us on our toes.
In the past, Harvey's books has been a fun way to discover local Chicago haunts. I delighted in various dives making their cameo appearances. But we didn't get as much of that in this installment. It is hard, after all, to hang out at a bar when you are wearing a hazmat suit.
If you are looking for a quick, gritty, unpredictable noir crime novel, you most definitely should pursue this series. There is no need to start at the beginning, although that always makes the journey more rewarding. I'll be waiting for the next installment, and hoping for a change in scenery for Mr. Kelly!
3.5 out of 5 stars