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The Chicago Way (Michael Kelly #1)

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  2,002 ratings  ·  318 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 January 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
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 4 of 5 stars  ·  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 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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.
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
Ally Bishop
Great read: easy prose, excellent imagery, imaginative story and intense characters. Highly recommend to anyone who loves Chandler or Burke.
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
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
Toni Osborne
This novel holds all the old clichés you can attribute to a PI story. With a witty and basic prose (sparse and snappy), the author gives us a story that has lots of twists and turns and great effects.

The story begins when Michael Kelly (an ex-cop, now a PI) is approached by a long time buddy from the police force to look into a cold case of a young woman brutally assaulted, stabbed and left for dead. Kelly is drawn into a mind bending investigation that will have him face the mob, a serial kille
Agnes Mack
The Chicago Way doesn't just take place in this city that I love so dearly - it takes place in Lakeview, a neighborhood I lived in for over 5 years. I'm not usually much for detective stories, but I couldn't resist an author who claims to use the city as more than just the backdrop, but as a character. Overall, I wasn't disappointed but I wasn't completely impressed either.

The Writing

There's definitely a very noir / old-school detective feel to this book. It did feel a little formulatic at time
Former police officer turned private investigator, Michael Kelly, is paid a surprise visit by John Gibbons, his old partner. Gibbons tells Michael a tale of Christmas Eve, 1997. Gibbons happened on a girl who was being attacked and stabbed and Gibbons intervened. The man was arrested but by the next morning he had been released and Gibbons was advised to put a lid on the case.

Now years later Gibbons has received a letter from the victim. She wants him to find her attacker and Gibbons is hiring K
From the mid 1980s through the early 1990s, my more frivolous reading included a heavy dose of crime fiction. That reading had been fueled by a Newsweek article that highlighted a, then, new breed of writers who were bringing modernizing tones to the genre. Among them were three writers whom I followed faithfully for years. Jonathan Valin with his PI, Harry Stoner; Joseph Hansen with his PI, Dave Brandstetter; and Stephen Greenleaf with his PI, Marshall Tanner.
Hansen killed off Brandstetter and
I'm typically not a huge fan of mysteries. I was looking for a book set in Chicago, and saw that the author has written for a TV show called Cold Case Files, so I decided to give it a try. I've never seen the show, but had hopes that as a screenwriter, Harvey would have some crisp dialogue. I wasn't disappointed. I found myself quickly engaged in the story, familiar with many of the locations, and in love with the quick dialogue. I had a little bit of trouble keeping up with all the characters a ...more
A good mystery set (obviously) in Chicago. A fast read with interesting characters and a neat twist.

Honestly, I didn't think I would make it past the first few chapters. The main character, Michael, narrates the way you would imagine an old detective would in a film noir. The author has weird inner monologues and observations - for instance, Michael goes to a TV station and sees the receptionist "She was...drinking what looked like coffee and smoking what looked like a cigarette." huh?


Michael Kelly is a retired Chicago cop turned private investigator. John Gibbons, his former partner, arrives at Michael’s office with a story.

Christmas Eve, 1997, Gibbons is on patrol, alone, in South Chicago, an area of warehouses and dry docks. He hears a gun shot. Running toward him is a young girl, her body covered in blood. Behind her is a man with a gun in one hand and a knife in the other. As he is chasing her, her is stabbing her. Gibbons tackles both. Even on the ground, with Gibbons h
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Michael Harvey is author of The Chicago Way, The Fifth Floor and The Third Rail (to be published by Knopf in April, 2010).

In addition to writing crime novels, Michael is a journalist and documentary producer. He is co-creator of Cold Case Files, hosted by Bill Kurtis on the A&E television network, and has written and produced scores of other documentary projects all over the world. His work h
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: A novel

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