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The Chicago Way (Michael Kelly #1)

3.57  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,186 Ratings  ·  339 Reviews
Reminiscent of Raymond Chandler's best Byzantine plots and the iciest moments of James M. Cain, Michael Harvey's debut, The Chicago Way, also offers readers a walking tour through P.I. Michael Kelly's Chicago. So where does a detective go to quench his thirst in the Windy City? The author offers Kelly's top five places to get a pint.

1. The Hidden Shamrock, 2723 North Hal
Kindle Edition, 302 pages
Published (first published October 1st 2007)
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It may be Michael Harvey's debut novel, but it reads like a classic crime story. I hadn't intended to start a new book today; I intended even less to finish it. I picked up The Chicago Way as a quick distraction, imagining that I would read a few pages and then put it down for a few years until I had the time again. Instead, I found myself flying through the pages and finishing the book in a few hours.

Michael Kelly, a former Chicago cop and current private detective, is hired by his old partner
Oct 08, 2014 Larry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Kelly is a Chicago cop-turned private investigator after having been railroaded off the force. His former partner, now retired, hires him to pursue a forgotten rape case that almost ended his own career. When the partner and client is murdered, and when Kelly is hired by the woman who was raped, things heat up. The deeper Kelly digs, the deadlier the case becomes.

Kelly is a classic hardboiled p.i. The reviews of the novel often make reference to Raymond Chandler, but the atmosphere is m
Apr 24, 2012 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Chicago and noir enthusiasts
After having this on my "to-read" shelf for a long time, I finally found a used autographed copy at my local store.

This was a well done "hard-boiled" detective story, in which the outcome was pretty shocking and not really expected. I liked the details about cold cases and the use of science at crime scenes the best because I just find that kind of stuff fascinating.

I am intigued to read the second installment, but I'm also prepared to be disappointed at the same time because it's hard to write
Ably read by Stephen Hoye who brings just the right amount of bemused detachment and cynicism to the character. Ex-cop Michael Kelly is now a P.I. whose former partner shows up at his door and tells about a case he wants to hire Kelly to work on, a rape that was being covered up by his superiors.

Let me say that while I liked this book, there were some things that just didn’t fit or seemed implausible: the blackmail, the raped hooker from an original crime, the killings that seemed to be, in the
Sep 15, 2008 Toni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone familiar with Chicago, lovers of classic noir mysteries
Recommended to Toni by: My local independent book
Shelves: mysteries, chicago
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael  Polino
Jan 05, 2012 Michael Polino rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Cool title, cool cover art... Maybe the worst book I have ever read. I'm generally pretty forgiving and easy to please with anything either crime noir or Chicago-centric but this was so bad that my mouth was sweating the entire twenty-five minutes it took me to read it.

The book is written as though the author visited the city for a convention, went to a Cubs game, drank a few MGD 64s at one of the meat head bars in Wrigleyville,then went a few blocks over to Boystown for action on the DL. Then,
For this reader Michael Harvey's freshman venture into the hard-boiled crime drama genre is more James M. Cain than Dashiell Hammett and the hero is more Dana Andrews in Laura than Humphrey Bogart. If compared to the noir movies of the 40's the reader is left with a picture of Robert Mitchum or Sterling Hayden as the protagonist Mike Kelly, Barbara Stanwyck as Elaine Remington and Lauren Bacall as Diane Lindsey. Today casting directors would probably give us Gerard Butler, Cameron Diaz, and Nico ...more
Jan 03, 2011 Andre rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought The Chicago Way by Michael Harvey several months ago because Amazon had it on sale for cheap. I’m glad I did.

Most fictional detectives have sad lives and hard upbringings. It seems this is a prerequisite for becoming a good fictional detective. Harvey’s private investigator protagonist, Michael Kelly, is has a life filled with next level sadness. As I said to my wife, the best way to describe how rough Kelly’s life has been is that he’s a White detective in Chicago whose life-long best
THE CHICAGO WAY. (2007). Michael Harvey. ***.
I recently read “The Third Rail” by this author, of whom I knew nothing. I thought that that book was excellent and decided to read his earlier stuff, too. This was his first novel, and featured the character Michael Kelly, a P.I. and former cop (how novel!). In this first episode, Michael is approached by a former cop partner of his about a case he had worked ten or so years ago. It was the rape and murder of a young woman which was never solved. It
Jun 24, 2013 Johnny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Although the famous quotation by Sean Connery’s character in The Untouchables where he told Elliott Ness that the Chicago Way was essentially paying back more than you received (ie. gunshots for bludgeoning, deaths for injuries), it really doesn’t have anything to do with this debut mystery, The Chicago Way than to provide a mental landmark for the story’s venue. Of course, it does feature real “landmarks” like the Golden Apple restaurant and a few local watering holes (including the Hidden Sham ...more
Sep 03, 2010 Jesse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was pleasantly surprised by how true this was to the tradition of detective noir novels. In addition to taking place in Chicago there are also crooked civil servants, a brief appearance by the mob, and a new client tied to an old case. Michael Kelly, Harvey’s principle character, reads like the Sam Spade archetype come true. A former cop and current PI, he has the traditional sarcastic wit, limited personal attachments, and excellent sleuthing skills one would want of a detective. Despite the ...more
Kathleen Hagen
The Chicago Way,by Michael Harvey, B-plus. Narrated by Stephen Hoye, produced by Books on Tape, downloaded from

Michael Kelly is a tough Irish ex-cop now private investigator. He is approached by his former partner from the force, John Gibbons, and is asked to help John solve a case he had been ordered to forget nine years previously. Then a day later, Gibbons turns up dead. There seems to be no file on the case in the cold case files, and everyone who knew anything about the case ha
A solid debut novel and a good introduction to an interesting character that doesn't seek to compulsively explain everything right away. It was one of those books that made me skip lunch in the teachers' lounge so I could read instead.

The author Michael Harvey is a co-creator of the TV show Cold Case Files and does a good job writing about crime. In this book, he focused on sexual assault in a way that conveys the violent nature of the crime with a stark matter-of-factness, setting out reality w
It's a trip to read terse, gritty old-school detective fiction prose in a story set in current-day Chicago. In between lines such as, "He sat down as if he belonged there and always had," and "She was half hidden in an alley, nothing but the glow of a cigarette marking her presence," private detective Michael Kelly takes us to Mr. Beef, Ukrainian Village, Intelligentsia Coffee, the Drake Hotel, and even the dog park Wiggley Field. The mystery had me invested, but ended kind of weakly, and some o ...more
Apr 29, 2009 Neil rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This gets off to a good start with some great noir styling, strong character development, and an interesting case.

Then Harvey tries to ramp it up, and it falls apart. The plot becomes a ridiculous shaggy dog story, with serial killers, mobsters, vigilante justice, and a dozen behind-the-scenes manipulations that are completely unbelievable. Even the clever language that Harvey used in the opening chapters goes away, driven off by the silly plot. As for all those interesting characters, all I can
Aug 24, 2011 HBalikov rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OK, so I am easily influenced. Read a review of a new book he wrote which touted his knowledge of Chicago and saw Kindle was having a 2 for 1 sale on his first two books. Took a peek at the first and I was hooked. Michael Kelly is an ex-cop and there was something about this that reminded me of Raymond Chandler's approach....we'll see, but so far it is hard to lay it aside for long. Everything about Chicago (the venues, the neighborhoods, the cops, the media) rings true.

The ending was a little j
Jan 24, 2010 Kelly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ultimately, I enjoyed this book, but it took me a while to get into its rhythmn. The dialogue is highly stylized (trying very hard to be hard-boiled Phillip Marlowe) and that was initially off-putting. (Why, I can't really say, since I certainly enjoy the genre in general.) And unfortunately, this was another book heavily focused on violence against women and girls, which I really need a break from -- not the author's fault, just bad timing on this reader's part.

All that said, about 2/3 of the w
Nov 29, 2008 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2008
This book begins as what appears to be a standard wise-cracking ex-cop P.I. novel, and then it transformed in to a thoughtful study of some messed-up men and women. My major complaint is that there doesn't appear to be an "arc" for the main character; with all that happens in this book, there should be a profound impact that takes us in a new direction and gives us food for thought. The writing is strong, and the author paints Chicago as a robust city. I was hoping for some emotional transition, ...more
Chas Andrews
So I picked this book up from during the Chicago Printers Row Lit Fest. Since the author had crime-writing cred and usurped a line from "The Untouchables" I figured, "Why not?"

Oh, buddy.

Not having as grounded a history, geographical or otherwise, of Chicago I cannot speak to how accurate it really is; he could've been in Boise, ID for all I know. The problems I ran into were firstly, the main character. He felt like what would happen if a P.I. from a 1940's movie was given the "Purple Rose of C
Jul 02, 2015 Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The Chicago Way” by Michael Harvey is a who-done-it set in Chicago. This was Harvey’s first book (2007) and it was a very good entry into crime writing. The author is a lawyer who comes from the east but lives in the Chicago area. He has created and written for “Cold Case Files” and was an investigative journalist…so he knows whereof he writes. I enjoyed his debut.

The Chicago Way is replete with references to Chicago area landmarks and customs, most of which ring true for this born-in Chicago
Brian Sobolak
This was enjoyable, but not fantastic. It tried too hard to be dark and/or troubled, and too often the lead detective just seemed like a cliche instead of a real person. Also, for someone familiar with the city, it was annoying to have him name real places and then have the geography not work out. With those points out of the way, it was a very good plot and I hope he publishes other books with the same detective. A quick and fun read. Recommended.
Jan 24, 2016 Jennifer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, thriller
The mystery in this one was well thought out, but this title just didn't draw me in. I never became attached to any of the characters and I found the protagonist, Michael Kelly, boring. There wren't plenty of intellectual reasons to care about he characters and their stories; Michael Harvey provides those details. The details just don't bring the characters alive in a way that made me emotionally invested. It felt more like he was showing and not telling. This was made even worse because the cri ...more
Mar 15, 2016 Heidi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
"A large pair of 1950s cat-eye glasses appeared over the top of the TV. Directly underneath said glasses was a pallid face twisted into a silent shriek, masquerading as a smile." And that second sentence (on p. 13) is when I stopped seriously reading this book. I mean, what a ridiculous set of words. I managed to plow on until page 30, then gave up and just skimmed the rest. This book was just so poorly written. It reads like someone was given an assignment to write a hard-boiled detective story ...more
Jun 17, 2015 Beverly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-series, 2015
This was almost a four star read for me. And that shocks me because I am no fan of the noir style featuring a hard boiled PI. I picked it up because of the Chicago setting and because the latest in this series got a good review in the NYT. The setting was well done. There was a sense of the city; the author clearly knows the city down to the Golden Apple on Lincoln. The story had legs, pattering along nicely with a surprise twist or two and never becoming too crowded. Private eye Michael Kelly i ...more
Joe Slavinsky
Jan 24, 2016 Joe Slavinsky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love books that use Chicago as their background, as this one does. I lived there for 35+ years, and it is truly the best city in the country. "The Chicago Way", is a first novel by Michael Harvey, who is also co-creator of the TV show "Cold Case Files". If Mr. Harvey plans to continue writing, I would encourage him to make a series, using private detective Michael Kelly as the centerpiece. This book is excellent, with lots of plot twists, and a hard-bitten ex-cop private eye, very much in the ...more
Ally Bishop
Oct 25, 2011 Ally Bishop rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read: easy prose, excellent imagery, imaginative story and intense characters. Highly recommend to anyone who loves Chandler or Burke.
Jul 14, 2014 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A tangled, very Chandleresque tale of an old crime, a coverup and the people who set out to avenge both. The first half of the book is stylistically very Chandleresque too -- clearly an homage -- with a PI who knows the mean streets well and a fountain of snappy one-liners; in the latter stages the one-liners more or less drop from the picture as Harvey focuses on telling his tale. The tale itself goes like a rocket: I picked the book up late one evening and finished it late the next, despite th ...more
Apr 10, 2016 Heath rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stephen King actually recommended this guys latest book (which he had just read an advance copy of) so I looked into his stuff. I love King but have found I usually don't like the books he likes. Not the case this time. I really liked this book. It's the writer's debut novel and it reads like it in the best way. He really goes for it. It hits all those good detective story checkboxes. Gritty dark sad brutal - not sure why I like that in my detective stories but I do and this one is near perfect. ...more
Jul 18, 2015 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd give this one a 3.5. Michael Harvey's Michael Kelly, a former police officer turned private investigator is reminiscent of Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch - from Chicago and younger, but with the same set of instincts. This is Harvey's first book, and while it lacks a bit of Connelly's polish, the plot moves along (with a few lucky breaks, coincidences and implausibilities, but they aren't awful) and the characters are flawed but likable. The mystery hangs on until the end, with a major twist ...more
Jan 25, 2016 Debbie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't make up my mind about this one. It's very referential of the classic hardboiled detective story, but maybe too self aware of that. However, the slight twist of many of the sentences made me smile if not actually laugh. It's very Chicago, but maybe too Chicago. There is not a chance of mentioning a street address, etc. that is missed. The detective, Michael Kelly shares a first name with the author. There is also a coy reference to the author's Cold Case Files. The story also employs the ...more
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Michael is the best-selling author of seven crime novels, The Chicago Way, The Fifth Floor, The Third Rail, We All Fall Down, The Innocence Game, The Governor’s Wife and Brighton, scheduled for release in June of 2016. Film rights to Brighton, a stand-alone thriller set in Michael’s hometown of Boston, were recently optioned by Graham King, producer of The Departed and The Town.

Michael is also an
More about Michael Harvey...

Other Books in the Series

Michael Kelly (5 books)
  • The Fifth Floor (Michael Kelly, #2)
  • The Third Rail (Michael Kelly, #3)
  • We All Fall Down (Michael Kelly, #4)
  • The Governor's Wife (Michael Kelly, #5)

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“His voice was flat. It reminded me of long afternoons in a dark saloon. The patrons drink in cheap liquor and recycled smoke. Each stares straight ahead into his respective past.” 1 likes
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