Monday, April 19, 2010

Julie's Review: The Third Rail

Summary: Harvey’s third Michael Kelly novel finds the tough Chicago PI eyeball deep in a burgeoning reign of terror focused on the transit system, the venerable CTA. Kelly witnesses the first murder on an L platform and sets off in hot but futile pursuit. After the second murder, he receives a taunting phone call from the killer, who alludes to Kelly’s knowledge of ancient Greece. As Kelly dredges his memory for a suspect—and recalls painful moments from his youth—the FBI barges in, citing terrorism; spooky suits from Homeland Security lurk on the periphery; and the body count rises. Hizzoner, the Daleyesque John J. Wilson, summons Kelly to make him an offer he can’t refuse. The expert use of Chicago politics that distinguished Harvey’s previous novel, The Fifth Floor (2008), is much in evidence here as well. Hizzoner is still practicing realpolitik, Chicago style, and the main plot is based on a real-life CTA accident in the 1970s. But the edginess and noir sensibility that were central to the earlier book’s appeal are lessened a bit this time by Kelly’s becoming an insider; the mayor seems to admire and trust him. That said, the action is nonstop, Harvey once again captures the unique zeitgeist of the city, and Kelly, tough smart, and a bit rough around the edges, is a true native son.

Review: I love books where they take you to locations/cities/places you've never been, because then you can let your imagination take over. But who can resist a book that is set in the city you grew up going to all that time? I can't and well Michael Harvey's The Third Rail is set in my beloved Chi-town. This is the third novel that features P.I. Michael Kelly but it's the first that I've read. I enjoyed the book greatly and already told my step-dad to download the books. (He has a Kindle)

The book opens with a brutal shooting on Chicago's North-side on the L platform. Kelly runs the assailant down but ends up getting the raw end of the confrontation, when he's hit in the head. The book never lets up after that. We follow Kelly on an adventure throughout the city that becomes personal in more ways than one. The FBI is brought in to work the case as well and of course that's always where things get sticky. This is where Kelly fits in. He's called upon by the Mayor of Chicago to work the case "independently" and to take care of the situation as he sees fit. So, he works the case how he sees fit, telling the Chicago PD and FBI only the essentials.

I can't really delve into the details without giving away the book, so I won't. I will say there are some good twists to the plot. One I figured out fairly early the other one hit me upside my head. I truly didn't see it coming.

For those of you that love history, the book goes into the 1980 L derailment that killed 11 people. Mr. Harvey even has nice Internet links at the end of the book if you want to learn more. I always enjoy when an author takes a real event and puts a fictitious story around it. For me, it makes me want to learn more about the real event.

A couple of minor things: 1) At times the writing could be a bit choppy, but that could be the writer's style. Sometimes it worked in the book and sometimes it didn't. It does lend itself to a fast-paced storyline. It just didn't work well in some of the more intimate conversations. 2) Based on the cover that had an slip over it from Michael Connelly saying that Mr. Harvey is "A major new voice", I figured he was a new author and was surprised that in fact this is his third Michael Kelly novel. It's a bit misleading but in the end I didn't mind because I typically enjoy reading new authors.

So, for you fans of Mr. Connelly and Mr. Coben, Michael Harvey is an author you will want to get to know.

I would like to thank Dana Kaye at Dana Kay Publicity for sending me a copy of The Third Rail.

Final Take:

This book will be released tomorrow, April 20th.


Kelly April 20, 2010 at 12:43 PM  

This looks like an interesting read.

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