Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Third Rail by Michael Harvey

Four years ago, I reviewed Michael Harvey's debut crime novel, The Chicago Way, for Library Journal.  Now, I'm reprinting the review of his second book, The Third Rail. That book will be released next week in both trade and mass market paperback. And, I have a very quick giveaway of a copy of it.  Details of the contest follow the review.

In the review of The Chicago Way, I said, "Debut author Harvey borrows elements from Chandler and Robert B. Parker's Spenser to create an appealing, crusading sleuth." Despite those comparisons, and the familiar staccato style of writing, Harvey's Michael Kelly is his own man, created by his life in Chicago.

Ex-cop turned private investigator, Kelly was on the platform of Chicago's El when a woman was killed by a sniper. Giving chase, he was dropped in an alley, but his survival became an issue for the cops, the feds, and Kelly himself. Something felt wrong, and as the spree killer continued to target people throughout the city, Michael began to suspect he was somehow linked to the killer. The terror in the city escalates, while Michael Kelly runs his own undercover investigation. Together with a friend who is a computer hacker, Michael Kelly digs into his own past, and a tragedy on the L thirty years earlier. When his girlfriend, Judge Rachel Swenson, is caught up in the city's crisis, Kelly's instincts might not be enough to shut down a killer.

Michael Kelly is a fascinating, complicated man. In Rachel's eyes, "What you do is dangerous. You work alone. No, you don't work. You hunt. That's what you do. You hunt human beings. Human beings who often hunt human beings themselves. You carry a gun and routinely use it. You have no backup, no safety net....Worst of all, you like it." Rachel may have one part of that wrong. I don't think Michael Kelly really likes to kill. In fact, he's haunted by his own past. When a friend is found dead, he thought, "He walked away from my touch and took his spot in the gallery of dead faces, waiting, apparently, to witness my grief."

Michael Harvey's investigator, Michael Kelly, is a creation of the city where he grew up. He's cynical, worldly, with little trust in politicians, the FBI, or the Catholic Church. And, he's caught up in a bigger disaster than anyone comprehends. If you thought of Boston as Spenser's city, you'll find Chicago is Michael Kelly's. Chicago, and Michael Kelly, are brilliantly brought to life in a book that's impossible to put down, Harvey's terrifying The Third Rail.

Michael Harvey's website is www.michaelharveybooks.com

The Third Rail by Michael Harvey. Alfred A. Knopf, ©2010. ISBN 9780307473639  ( mass market paperback), 400p.   Or ISBN 9780307946584 (trade paperback), 304p.

If you'd like to win a paperback copy of The Third Rail, email me at lholstine@yahoo.com. Your subject line should read, "Win The Third Rail." Please include your name and mailing address in the body of the email. Entrants from the U.S. only, please.

The contest will end this Thursday, March 17 at 6 PM PT. It's a quick contest so I can get it in the mail before I leave for Left Coast Crime.


Beth Hoffman said...

Thanks so much for this, Lesa. I have to admit that until your post I don't recall hearing about these books, but I'm writing down Michael Harvey's name because I have the feeling my husband would enjoy his work.

Lesa said...

Oh, great, Beth. And, I'm looking forward to reading his next one, The Fifth Floor. I hope your husband likes them.

Gran said...

I've got this book in my Google "must read" file, Lesa. thanks!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Gran. Thank you!