Friday, July 5, 2013

book review: The Fifth Floor by Michael Harvey

The backstory: After devouring Michael Harvey's first mystery featuring ex-cop turned private investigator Michael Kelly in a day, The Chicago Way, I immediately picked up The Fifth Floor, the second in the series.

The basics: The titular fifth floor refers to the location of the Chicago mayor's office, a sure sign Harvey is once again tackling a story of political intrigue. When an old girlfriend asks Michael Kelly to track her husband, who works for the mayor, Kelly doesn't anticipate discovering a dead body while he does so. Soon he finds himself solving multiple mysteries, including this murder, stretching from the Chicago fire of 1871 to the present.

My thoughts: Rarely do I like to read two of an author's books back to back, let alone two in a series without a break, but before I had even finished The Chicago Way, I'd requested the other three titles in the series from the library. One of the things I love most about Michael Harvey's writing is the way he makes things that should be preposterous seem normal. He captures the essence of Chicago beautifully, both its treasures and its embarrassments. This novel beautifully explores the history of Chicago's fire, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This review is intentionally short on details because Harvey's books are best enjoyed knowing little when you begin. Know this: if you like mysteries, drop what you're doing and go get your hands on copies of The Chicago Way and The Fifth Floor--you'll want to start this one as soon as you finish the first one too. 

The verdict: Harvey seamlessly combines a rich portrait of Chicago's history with contemporary drama. The result is a densely and richly plotted contemporary mystery that is even better than The Chicago Way.

Rating: 5 out of 5
Length: 290 pages
Publication date: August 26, 2008
Source: library

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy The Fifth Floor from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (Kindle edition.)

Want more? Visit Michael Harvey's website, like him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

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