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The Third Rail (Michael Kelly #3)

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  721 ratings  ·  119 reviews
A woman is shot as she waits for her train to work. An hour later, a second woman is gunned down as she rides an elevated train through the Loop. Two hours after that, a church becomes the target of a chemical weapons attack. The city of Chicago is under siege, and Michael Kelly, cynical cop turned private investigator, just happens to be on the scene when all hell breaks ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 1st 2010 by Bloomsbury UK (first published January 1st 2010)
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Michelle Kaye
Michael Harvey, Author
The Third Rail
Alfred E. Knopf Press, ISBN 978-0-307-27250-8
Fiction-crime, drama, thriller, murder, mystery
285 pages
May/June 2010 Review for Bookpleasures
Reviewer-Michelle Kaye Malsbury, BSBM, MM
Michael Harvey, author of “The Third Rail” is a esteemed journalist and producer of documentaries. (insert, 2010) He has authored two previous books, “The Chicago Way” and “The Fifth Floor”. (back pages of “The Third Rail”, 2010) Awards and acclaim for Mr. Harvey’s work range
Harvey, Michael. THE THIRD RAIL. (2010). ****. This is a top-notch thriller featuring Michael Kelly, a former policeman turned PI. He is waiting at an El stop in Chicago and witnesses a man who shoots a woman in the head. Kelly takes off after him, but is ultimately waylaid in an alley; knocked cold. It seemed as if the perp – I should say perps since we soon learn that there is a team of two – wanted Kelly to follow and to get involved. After leaving Kelly on the ground, the duo then move to an ...more
This is an excellent book, and it is exceedingly well crafted. I found it quite gritty, edgy and true to Chicago's way of life. The book opens up with a brutal killing of a woman while she is waiting for a train. Incidentally, private investigator Michael Kelly is a witness to this despicable act and he is drawn into the case.
The tone is very dry, very straightforward, and very engaging. The characters are likeable, and certainly complex. The plot is also complex, and full of surprises. Several
A Solid Crime Story

The Third Rail is the third book in a series about Michael Kelly, a hard-boiled former cop turned private detective. Lots of action and lots of tension build throughout the book as Kelly investigates a series of seemingly random attacks on Chicago's famed Elevated Train system.

For me, this was a welcome change of pace from the seemingly endless books about crime in NYC and LA, cities that I know only from television. I am a Midwesterner and I am familiar with the Windy City
The book was suspenseful and the protagonist was likable, it kept me reading and was overall a good mystery. I guess my criticism is That it was far-fetched, and I think (I hope) the author took liberties with police procedures. It seems that none of the police or elected officials really had any intention of solving the crime, they just wanted to see it swept under the rug and accepted the first suspect that came along. Another thing was, they showed a shocking lack of concern about a potential ...more
Thomas Bruso
Michael Connelly is right: Michael Harvey is "a major new voice."

"The Third Rail" is a taut, rollercoaster ride of razor-sharp suspense. From the chilling beginning, when an innocent female passenger boarding the rails of Chicago's L train gets her head blown to pieces, the story grips the reader and doesn't let go until--literally--the end of the book. It is a fast read--even the print is easy on the eyes--and it keeps the reader engrossed and turning pages.

Harvey can write. No question. Vivid,
The Third Rail by Michael Harvey (pp. 281)

The complex private investigator, Michael Kelly, is back in Harvey’s 3rd hard-boiled crime novel set in Chicago. Kelly is on a CTA ‘L’ platform as a sniper fires on random citizens. Minutes later another random shooting takes place across the city. The shooter uses the thrill kills to lure Kelly into a crimesolver role. The standard FBI, police and Homeland Security turf fighting occurs while each group enlists Kelly on the downlow to help their cases wh
This book was all over the place. I can’t say it was good, bad, or somewhere in the middle. There was a lot to like and a lot to dislike. Like I said, The Third Rail seemed to be going a thousand different directions at one time.

Unlike the first two Michael Kelly novels, The Third Rail alternates between first person narrative from Kelly’s perspective and third person following several other characters. I was used to reading everything through Kelly’s thoughts, but this structure was fine. I jus
Paul Pessolano
The city of Chicago has become a shooting ground and people are being murdered indiscriminately.

Michael Kelly, former cop turned private investigator, is on the scene of the first killing and finds himself being drawn into the case. In facr, the mayor has given him the green light to take the killer out, "no questions asked".

The situation keeps getting worse as more and more people are being murdered and the police have little of nothing to go on.

While investigating the murders Kelly finds that
From my book review blog Rundpinne.

(3.5 stars)

An action packed thriller from beginning to end, The Third Rail by Michael Harvey commands the reader’s attention from the very beginning. Women are being murdered in the city of Chicago and PI Kelly, in conjunction with the FBI, launches a massive investigation overturning some very puzzling clues, leaving Kelly all the more perplexed and determined to solve the case. Raw and intense, The Third Rail is filled with an intriguing ensemble of charact
THE THIRD RAIL by Michael Harvey utilizes the political panorama that defines the city of Chicago and mixes historical fact with a fast paced, imaginative and dramatic confection contrived by the author to deliver a novel that is as electrifying as the title infers.

Harvey is not shy about utilizing his characters to espouse his views (most of them negative) about everything from the misappropriation of funds by the hierarchy of the Catholic church (could this be the infamous scandal involving C
It’s one thing to have even fictional murders committed on the rail lines upon which one commutes to one’s employment, but it is especially unnerving to have a factual historical reference to a fatal train derailment on a curve one travels almost daily. So, The Third Rail was particularly unnerving to me as a reader. Of course, that factor just added to the tension as Michael Kelly, the private investigator that sometimes seems like a pain in patronage-giving mayor John J. Wilson’s derriere and ...more
THE THIRD RAIL is the third Michael Kelly, policeman turned PI, based thriller, set in Chicago. And Harvey doesn't muck around, throwing Kelly right into the middle of the action from the start of the book, when waiting at an El stop he witnesses a man shooting a woman in the head. In hot pursuit, Kelly is waylaid in an alley and knocked out cold. Which leaves some room for speculation about whether or not the shooter has a partner. Another passenger dies on the same transport system and it's no ...more
The Third Rail is the 3rd in the Michael Kelly series but was the first one I read. Michael Kelly is a private investigator who unwittingly finds himself connected to a serial killing spree as he waits for the L train in Chicago one morning. As the killer progresses with his plans, however, Michael Kelly learns his connection wasn't as accidental as it may have originally seemed. In fact, utilizing some old friends as resources, Michael astutely pieces together the facets of the crime that match ...more
In The Third Rail, a sniper is killing people in Chicago. Michael Kelly, a former Chicago cop turned Private Investigator, just happens to be on the scene of the first shooting. As more bodies drop, Kelly becomes personally involved when the killer contacts him directly. It leaves him wondering how he could be connected to all of this. Maybe it's something in his past. He becomes even more motivated to find out what's going on when his girlfriend is kidnapped and he must find the killer before R ...more
Elizabeth A.
"Someone is going to die. I sat in my car and felt that certainty pump through my veins. I took a minute to distill the violence into a more refined form and tucked it away until I needed it." - Michael Kelly

P.I. Michael Kelly most definitely needs it, as there is all kinds of trouble afoot in Chi-town. Starting with an execution-style murder on an L (elevated train) platform that Kelly witnesses, followed by a second L related shooting across town barely an hour later, The Third Rail quickly pu
The Third Rail opens on Chicago's "L" just as someone is killed by a sniper. It soon becomes clear that the victim was selected almost at random, just as a means to capture Michael Kelly's attention.

The killer has a hidden message that he expects Kelly to decipher. Kelly's off the police force but has been called in to assist. As it becomes increasingly clear that the Mayor, the FBI and the police would like to hunt down and stop -- preferably with lethal force -- this unknown killer, Kelly sta
Brian Adams
Michael Harvey continues to amaze me. In this, his third novel, Harvey spins yet another fascinating tale of murder and corruption in the Windy City.
Private eye Michael Kelly witnesses a brutal killing on the "el" platform. At first, it seems random, but it's now up to Kelly to find out. Soon other innocents are killed with Kelly in the middle, butting heads with the FBI, the Catholic Church, and the Mayor's Office.
All of this seems to connect to a elevated train accident thirty years before (ba
Tom Carrico
Two for the Beach

My definition of a good vacation read includes the following: The book should be entertaining. There should be a believable plot, hopefully with a wicked twist at the end. The characters should be interesting. The book should last long enough to make it worth the effort, but it should be able to be consumed in several generous helpings (like two or three afternoons under a beach umbrella). If there is good writing which makes all of this happen, all the better. Here are two whic
Harvey was a bit off his game in the third entry in his Michael Kelly series. All the usual elements were still there -- the infighting amongst competing law enforcement agencies, a corrupt mayor, a devious and unethical Catholic archdiocese, a romp through the streets of Chicago both on and off the el -- but the pacing seemed off throughout. I think part of the problem, if not virtually all of the problem, was shifting perspective between Kelly and the villain. First person narration can be pro ...more
This third book in the Michael Kelly series is much more exciting (and downright terrifying) than its predecessor in the series, The Fifth Floor. Though my fear, I am sure is compounded by the fact that I started reading this novel on the CTA during a rush hour commute home - the setting for the opening scenes of a violent killing spree. Harvey deviates a bit here from his typical writing style to alternate Kelly’s perspective with that of the villain’s. This broader scope increases the exciteme ...more
Harvey's series is easy to read and goes down fast. This third in the series follows Kelly as he is one of a few targets connected to an incident that happened in his youth. There's some more added to the back story of Kelly and his upbringing, Feds get involved, good people die (oh how I hate the ones that Harvey picks to die - since the first book in the series he kills off great potential characters) and so do, thankfully, some bad people. Harvey creates a mini future for the victim's of the ...more
From my book review blog Rundpinne....[return][return]....An action packed thriller from beginning to end, The Third Rail by Michael Harvey commands the reader’s attention from the very beginning. Women are being murdered in the city of Chicago and PI Kelly, in conjunction with the FBI, launches a massive investigation overturning some very puzzling clues, leaving Kelly all the more perplexed and determined to solve the case. Raw and intense, The Third Rail is filled with an intriguing ensemble ...more
Bo White

I give this four, not five, not because it isn't good (I read it recently while on a trip to Miami and like the previous two, it's better than anything on fact, I never turned the television on during this entire business trip, this series is that good), but because now, the third one gets compared to the previous two. The pace is fast, Michael Kelly is compelling and complicated as a hero, and there are a few good surprises. What was different was that this was more federal in
Rob Kitchin
The Third Rail is the third instalment of the Michael Kelly series and the first I’ve read. The story is told at a quick pace using short chapters each with a tension point designed to keep the pages turning. This keeps the story moving along, but sacrifices character development and limits contextualisation. Kelly is a typical tough guy PI, is incredibly well connected, and just happens to find himself at the centre of a major incident which only he and his techie buddy can solve. Thrillers oft ...more
Some of the other reviews have it dead on: this is definitely the weakest of the Michael Kelly books, with too many thin, disparate threads that are not convincing tied together or resolved in a satisfying manner (one glaring thread is purposefully left open in the epilogue, and it's hard to tell if it will be followed up in another book or if Harvey just couldn't think of a convincing way to address it...ahem, I mean, Harvey was "making a deep, critical statement on the corruption and lack of s ...more
I like Harvey's PI, Kelly. I like the character, his slightly murky past, and his love of the classics. Most of all, I like Kelly's first-person noir detective narration.

Unfortunately, in this third installment of Kelly's story, Michael Harvey chooses for some reason to switch between Kelly's first-person narration and at least five different third-person points of view, thus diluting the very distinctive, enjoyable voice that made me pick up these books in the first place.

I understand that the
Joe Nowak
I am the first to admit that anytime I read a novel with Chicago as the main background, I have an immediate positive bias. But this one had a really good premise. It starts with ex-Chicago Police detective Mike Kelly witnessing a murder on the elevated train station. A series of additional murders lead Kelly to believe the events relate back to a rail tragedy that took place 30 years earlier. The author, Michael Harvey, takes a little literary license to re-invent a transportation tragedy simil ...more
An ex-Chicago policeman, now P.I., with issues of emotional distancing.
A terrorist picking people off of the City's public transportation.
A lot of gritty and accurate neighborhood atmosphere.
Plenty of spot-on Chicago politics.
Some very interesting characters.

A quick and enjoyable read, even if some of the issues apparently carry-over into the next novel.
John Grisham is quoted as saying that "Michael Harvey should be read by all". So naturally I decided that this book has got to suck.

Yes, I read criminal sniper mystery heist gumshoe shit. My old man does, and I figured we'd have something to talk about when we saw each other on holidays and what not.

I ended up being super biased - as 90% of the book takes place in areas of Chicago I grew up in, bars and restaurants I know well. The cafe named Filter did indeed close down a couple years ago, the
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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 Chicago Way (Michael Kelly, #1)
  • The Fifth Floor (Michael Kelly, #2)
  • We All Fall Down (Michael Kelly, #4)
  • The Governor's Wife: A novel
The Chicago Way (Michael Kelly, #1) The Fifth Floor (Michael Kelly, #2) The Innocence Game We All Fall Down (Michael Kelly, #4) Michael Harvey Thrillers 2-Book Bundle: The Chicago Way, The Fifth Floor (Michael Kelly, #1-2)

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