The Chicago Way, Michael Harvey 2007

Harvey’s debut novel introduces us to Michael Kelly, a former member of the Chicago Police Department who finds his old partner, John Gibbons, at his door one night after not seeing him for four years.  Gibbons is described as “From waist to shoulders he was of one dimension, that being massive.  His head sat on a bulldog neck, with short ears and gray hair clipped close.  His nose showed the back rooms of Chicago’s alleys. His eyes were still clear, cool, and blue.”  If that sounds like Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, welcome to The Chicago Way.  Harvey manages to stay “Chandleresque” for most of the book and that’s when he’s at his best, but as the plot picks up steam, he seems to drop Chandler and revert to a combination of Parker/Connelly.  In fact the book is blurbed by one of my favorites, Michael Connelly.  It’s a good murder mystery since Gibbons is dead by the end of the second chapter and a number of others follow in his wake. The plot is excellent, the characters are memorable, and the book kept me awake past midnight finishing it. That’s an accomplishment not to be underestimated.  A fine debut novel, but Harvey is not likely to make it to my ‘read every new book by this author’ list.

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