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The Chicago Way (Michael Kelly #1)

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  2,371 Ratings  ·  359 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
303 pages
Published 2007 by Quercus
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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
May 31, 2010 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
Sep 15, 2010 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
Aug 31, 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.
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
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,
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
Una Tiers
The title pulled me in, the writing was okay but the style was off kilter. The author tries too hard to be like other authors and never develops his own style.
Feb 26, 2017 Archer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a decent read & I kept thinking it came across as an attempt at noir fiction that highlighted Chicago (both of which I have a weakness for) but in the end he missed the mark.
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
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
Aug 29, 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
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
Apr 17, 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 07, 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
Jul 30, 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
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.
Ally Bishop
Sep 15, 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.
Feb 24, 2017 Sara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I found the writing very choppy
Tanja Traber
Feb 13, 2017 Tanja Traber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a solid murder mystery with juicy twists & turns. i love how the author talks about loneliness.
Tracy Shapley
Mar 18, 2012 Tracy Shapley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Barbara Nutting
Pretty ho-hum!! The blurb on the cover by John Grisham said "should be read by all". Why? Just a poorly written imitation of 1940's style prose.
Chick Marks
Mar 11, 2017 Chick Marks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good introduction to a new character. Michael Kelly is relatively believable and the book gives an interesting view of rape from the victim's point of view and also an insight into Classical Greek literature.
Oct 26, 2010 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Dec 29, 2008 Martin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009books
The Chicago Way by Michael Harvey is a fun, quick read – the first novel by the co-creator of tv’s Cold Case Files, a show I know exists but otherwise couldn’t care any less about. Perhaps this knowledge prejudiced me against this slender neo-noir, because when I finished, I felt like I had just read a (slightly) extended Cold Case Files episode. In fact, CSI and Cold Case Files were both explicitly mentioned in this book, furthering my suspicion that I was reading a rejected Cold Case Files scr ...more
Jul 25, 2010 Jay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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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