A breakout, stand-alone thriller from Michael Harvey, Chicago's best known crime writer and the beloved author of the Michael Kelley P.I. series — a brilliant leap forward.
Michael Harvey's wire-taut thriller, THE INNOCENCE GAME, begins in an ordinary classroom at Northwestern's renowned journalism school but quickly spirals into the grittiest reaches of Chicago crime. Along with only two classmates — beautiful, strong-willed Sarah Gold, and enigmatically brilliant Jake Havens — Ian Joyce is part of the Innocence Seminar, an exclusive class for top-ranking students taught by a woman who goes simply by Z. The seminar investigates wrongful convictions and cold cases; the idealistic J-school students are tasked with trying to exonerate the falsely accused. But on the first day of class, Jake introduces a case of his own, the long-ago murder of a young boy, ten-year-old Skylar Wingate, last seen walking home from his house on Chicago's west side. Three days later, his body was found by a hiker in a forest preserve a mile away. The man convicted of killing Skylar was murdered decades ago in jail. But two chilling clues delivered to Jake's house, a piece of blood-stained fabric and a blunt hand-written confession, suggest that the real killer is still very much alive, and, indeed, in their midst, forcing them to confront what they know about themselves and each other. As the evidence mounts, the three classmates find themselves drawn into a web of deceit, corruption, and murder that will leave each of them fighting for their lives. From the archived depths of storage warehouses to the dense woods and moldering caves of the local preserve to the shores of Lake Michigan, THE INNOCENCE GAME is an irresistible, harrowing mystery from a writer at the top of his form.
A light bulb falls in a subway tunnel, releasing a deadly pathogen.
Within hours, a homeless man, a cop, and then dozens more start to die.
Hospitals become morgues. El trains become rolling hearses.
Chicago is on the verge of chaos before the mayor finally acts, quarantining entire sections of the city. Meanwhile, private investigator and former cop Michael Kelly hunts for the people responsible. The search takes him into the tangled underworld of Chicago's West Side gangs and cops on the take, and the terrifying world of black biology—an elite field operating covertly at the nation's top labs, where scientists play God and will do anything necessary to keep their secrets safe.
"Dark-hearted, intoxicating... Nerve-jangling scary."
"An utterly persuasive view of a present-day apocalyptic nightmare."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Harvey does for the Windy City what Michael Connelly did for Los Angeles: He commandeers it, warts and all, and wrangles it into his fiction."
"[Harvey] weaves Chicago history and politics with the conventions of mystery writing to create meditations on power—how it's used, who it helps, and the way it hurts.. Honest, smart and funny."
"[A] knockout thriller... Harvey renders Kelly's Chicago in crisp, tough and ironic prose."
—The Washington Post Book World
"The suspense hums and the dialogue is truthfully tough, but it's the writing that elevates Harvey to the top of the PI genre. He's the best Chicago novelist... since Nelson Algren."
—The Plain Dealer
"Harvey is a budding superstar."
—The Daily News
"Multiple threads come together but not before the final pages. Until then, Harvey twists the plot like a braided rope, ratcheting up tension with the ensuing pages."
"A major new voice."
A woman is shot as she waits for her train to work. An hour later, a second woman is gunned down as she rides an elevated train through the Loop. Two hours after that, a church becomes the target of a chemical weapons attack. The city of Chicago is under siege, and Michael Kelly, cynical cop turned private investigator, just happens to be on the scene when all hell breaks loose.
Kelly is initially drawn into the case by the killers themselves, then tasked by Chicago's mayor and the FBI to hunt down the bad guys and, all things being equal, put a bullet in them. Kelly, of course, has other ideas. As he gets closer to the truth, Kelly's instincts lead him to a retired cop, a shady train company, and an unnerving link to his own past. Meanwhile, Kelly's girlfriend, Rachel Swenson, becomes a pawn in a much larger game—as a weapon that could kill millions ticks away quietly in the very belly of the city.
The Third Rail is stylish, sophisticated, edge-of-your-seat suspense from a new modern master.
"Harvey stakes a persuasive claim as the pre-eminent contemporary voice of Chicago noir."
—Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review)
Harvey drives his third Michael Kelly entry (after The Fifth Floor like an efficient train... VERDICT The mixture of high-speed drama and historical elements showcases the author's journalist roots. It comes off like a juicy true-crime story with abundant twists, ensuring that the reader is left feeling unbalanced most of the time. Harvey shares his passion for Chicago, much like Gabriel Cohen does with his Brooklyn crime novels.
"Harvey unfolds his tale with no preliminaries, no digressions and barely an extra word—just a book-length jolt of pure adrenaline."
"The third Kelly Windy CIty Noir is a superb thriller that grips the audience with the first shot fired and never slows down until the final confrontation... The Third Rail is a fabulous Chicago cat and mouse investigative tale that never wastes a twitter of a moment even with a great twist that turns Kelly into a city hero though he never fires the key shot."
The sizzling follow-up to The Chicago Way opens with a murder in the contemporary Chicago and winds its way back to Mrs. O'Leary's cow and the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Private investigator Michael Kelly is back in another page-turner that revives a tantalizing mystery buried in Chicago's past.
When Kelly is hired by an old girlfriend to tail her abusive husband, he expects trouble of a domestic rather than a historical nature. Life, however, is not so simple. The trail leads Kelly to an old house on Chicago's North Side. Inside it, he finds a body, and perhaps the answer to one of Chicago's most enduring mysteries: who started the Great Chicago Fire and why. The unsuing investigation takes Kelly to places he'd rather not go: specifically, City Hall's fabled fifth floor, where the mayor is feeling the heat. Kelly becomes embroiled in a scam that stretches from current politics back to the night Chicago burned to the ground. Along the way, Kelly finds himself framed for murder, before finally facing a killer bent on rewriting history.
The Fifth Floor is fast-stepping, intricately woven suspense, rich with the lore and atmosphere of a great city. A marvelous successor to Harvey's critically acclaimed debut.
"Michael Harvey is a magnificent new voice."
The Fifth Floor, Michael Harvey gives us a tale of murder, bare-knuckle mayoral politics, and historical catastrophe—in short, the perfect Chicago detective story, complete with a loving tour of the city's funkier locales that'll make any displaced Chicagoan long for home."
—Erik Larson, author of The Devil In The White City
Harvey's superb second thriller to feature PI Michael Kelly (after 2007's The Chicago Way) has the ex-Chicago cop taking on what he thinks is a simple domestic violence case. But when he tails Johnny Woods, a "fixer" for the city's powerful mayor, to what turns out to be a grisly murder scene, Kelly realizes he's stumbled onto a scandal that began with the great Chicago Fireof 1871. Digging deeper, Kelly unearths what was once considered an urban legend: two of Chicago's most eminent families conspiring to eradicate Irish immigrants by burning down the city's slums. As more bodies pile up and he becomes romantically involved with a judge with secrets of her own, Kelly vows to expose the conspiracy, even if that means putting himself on the wrong side of the city's most powerful men. Harvey's plot twists in all the right places, and his noir-inspired dialogue crackles with sounding showy. Marlowe and Spade would readily welcome Michael Kelly into their fold.
—Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review)
PI Michael Kelly digs into the history of the Great Chicago Fire for his second case in what's shaping up as a strong series (The Chicago Way, 2007). A badly beaten blonde seeking help from old friend Kelly, who "was once something more," lands this new adventure solidly in noir territory. Harvey delivers on the setup with fast repartee, quick scenes and a slate of characters who numb their melancholy with afternoon smokes and booze, but he's after more than just pastiche. Rather, he depicts the kind of "justice" meted out in the age of Starbucks coffees and hard-disk drives. Tailing the blonde's two-fisted husband, Kelly learns that he "fixes" problems for a powerful, Daley-like mayor by pressing hard where it hurts. The husband enters an old-money Lincoln Park home and leaves, ashen-faced, moments later; the PI steps inside and finds a dead man dangling from a rope, his mouth stuffed with sand. The victim, Kelly learns, was an armchair historian with an interest in Chicago's disastrous 1871 fire. The buff may have owned a first-edition history of the fire that many, includig the mayor, badly want. Investigating that long-ago tragedy, Kelly uncovers some startling clues and leads. The most significant is that Mrs. O'Leary's cow did not start the conflagration. Indeed, the current mayor's great-great-great grandfather and a cohort may have set things burning to clear Irish immigrants off land they wanted to develop. The mayor can ill-afford this revelation as he faces a challenge to re-election from a newly arrived black candidate to impresses with fresh ideas (Barack Obama, perhaps?). Kelly, the mayor, the challenger, a slimy curator and others muscle up with the goods they have on each other and start to arm-wrestle. Dry wit, delectable clues and tricky leads hallmark this trenchant tale of the Windy City.
—Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
Chicago P.I. Michael Kelly is hired by his former partner to help solve an eight-year-old rape-and-battery case, a case it turns out his old friend was once ordered to forget. When his friend turns up dead, Kelly turns to some of his savviest colleagues for help: a television reporter whose relationship with Kelly is not strictly professional; his best friend from childhood, a forensic DNA expert; and an old ally from the DA's office. To close the files, Kelly will have to face the mob, a serial killer, his own double-crossing friends and the mean streets of the city he loves.
"A magnificent debut that should be read by all."
"The Chicago Way is a wonderful first novel. Michael Harvey has studied the masters and put his own unique touch on the crime novel. This book harkens the arrival of a major new voice."
"Harvey's debut delivers a fast-paced thrill ride through Chicago's seedy underbelly... [He] masterfully combines the sardonic wit of Chandler with the gritty violence of Lehane's Kenzie and Gennaro series. Bringing Chicago to life so skillfully that the reader can almost hear the El train in the distance, Harvey is poised to take the crime-writing world by storm."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Heartfelt, ambitious... Kelly, a wisecracking Irish Scrapper, slings metaphors like Philip Marlowe and reads Homer and Aeschylus in Greek... Harvey ends up delivering the goods."
Amazon Significant Seven, August 2007: Michael Harvey's gritty debut, The Chicago Way, rips the classic crime novels of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett from their 30s origins and slams them like a brass first into the teeth of modern-day Chicago. All of the pieces are here: Chandler's Byzantine plots and tack-sharp dialogue; a smorgashbord of knuckle sandwiches to sate the die-hard Hammett fans; and a damaged dame (platinum blonde, natch), straight out of a James Cain roadside diner. Seemingly destined for noir greatness, The Chicago Way respects its gnarled roots and catapults hardboiled crime fiction into a new century.
—John Foro, Amazon.com
"Michael Harvey's tightly plotted evocation of the Chicago underworlds is set in the present but brings to mind the voices of Chandler and Hammett."
"Gritty and witty, The Chicago Way is done the classic Raymond Chandler Way. Harvey's taut plot, snappy prose, and memorable characters make this debut novel a real winner."
"The efficiency of [Harvey's] cinematic style.. suits the brisk, animated shots of Chicago that give the story both grit and authenticity."
—New York Times Book Review
"It is a measure of the ambition of Michael Harvey's first novel, The Chicago Way, that we start it thinking about Dashiell Hammett and end it pondering Aeschylus."
—The Washington Post Book World
"Not to be outdone by his work in television, Harvey has written a provocative novel that captures the grittiness of the Windy City and spins a murder mystery with a satisfying and out-of-left-field ending... Readers will find the clipped cadence of Harvey's dialogue and narrative wonderfully reminiscent of Raymond Chandler."
"[Harvey] composes punchy noir sentences that he stacks into punchy noir paragraphs that have all the rhythm, irony, and wit of the genre's manly classics of the 1920s and '30s."
"This contemporary police procedural by the man responsible for TB's Cold Case Files smacks of Raymond Chandler filtered though Robert B. Parker."
"The Chicago Way by Michael Harvey is as entertaining as a night out on the town."
"If only all debut novels were this good. ...Harvey doesn't waste a word and keeps you glued to your seat reading."
"One of the most impressive debuts of the year. [Harvey] writes in the slick, urgent style of traditional private-eye novels of the 1930's and 1940's. ...The result is fast-paced, well-written and highly enjoyable reading."
—The Times (London)