Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Chicago Way by Michael Harvey

 Do you ever go through the piles of books you have, pick one up and then be so happy to have discovered a "new" author? This one escaped my notice for several years.  

 In The Chicago Way "Private detective Michael Kelly is hired by his former partner to solve an eight-year long gone cold. But when the partner turns up dead, Kelly enlists a team of his savviest colleagues to connect the dots between the recent murder and the cold case it revived.  ...Kelly will have to face the mob, a serial killer, his own double-crossing friends, and the mean streets of the city he loves." (description from Vintage Crime publisher). 

"Heartfelt, ambitious...Kelly, a wisecracking Irish scrapper, slings metaphors like Phillip Marlowe, reads Homer and Aeschylus in Greek... Harvey ends up delivering the goods." Kirkus Review.  

The Chicago Way  has what to me are two or three of the most perfect descriptive paragraphs ever written.  Now, this is  not Tolstoy or anything close but if you're from Chicago you will definitely appreciate reading Pages 144 and 145 of this engrossing detective novel. 

Michael Harvey is the creator, writer, and executive producer of the television series Cold Case Files, as well as an Academy Award-nominee for his documentary Eyewitness, and is a former investigative reporter for CBS. He earned a law degree at Duke, a masters in journalism from Northwestern and a bachelor's degree in classical language from Holy Cross College.  He also owns a bar in Chicago called The Hidden Shamrock.  Here's what he is quoted as saying about Chicago:  "I live about a half mile from Wrigley Field. Another place of great tragedy in the city".  

His novel contains many details that only Chicagoans might recognize: Tom Skilling giving a weather report, someone reading Michael Sneed’s column, the typical behaviors of Irish south-siders.
 He says "I try to find places in the city that people might relate to, or find interesting. I especially look for scenes that convey the intangibles and atmospherics of Chicago. It’s a great city, so why not?".

It is my favorite city and now I think Michael Harvey has become one of my favorite crime writers because he evokes the city so perfectly.   Check out his books, you too may be happy to have found a new favorite author:

We All Fall Down (Michael Kelly #4, July, 2011)
The Third Rail (Michael Kelly #3, April, 2010)
The Fifth Floor (Michael Kelly #2, September, 2008)
The Chicago Way (Michael Kelly #1, September 2007)

The Chicago Way (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)

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