Giano Cromley's Reviews > The Fifth Floor

The Fifth Floor by Michael  Harvey
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May 05, 11

Read in March, 2011

Okay, so let me start by saying I love a good noir mystery in the vein of Hammett and Chandler. These kinds of novels are my drug of choice. So, with that in mind, you should not be surprised to hear that I consumed this book within two and a half days. I was almost physically unable to put them down.
That being said, this novel felt to me like a pale imitation of those earlier masters. Yes, I liked seeing the Chicago locales and its history used to good effect here. Yes, the narrator was sufficiently grizzled and jaded. That was all to the good, so it's a little hard for me to pinpoint why exactly this wasn't a home run for me.
I guess, if pressed, I'd say it was because the secondary characters all felt a little too sketched-in. I know it's part of the genre that most secondary characters typically get a kind of flip two-line description of the "cool drink of water" variety. But in this case, it just felt like they got too short-shrifted. Maybe their actions were a little too predictable, or perhaps predetermined.
So, yes, I had some gripes about this book. It was not perfect. But for those who like this genre, please note what I said earlier: I finished it within the span of a weekend. This book will force you to turn pages, delay bedtime, and ignore other more pressing matters as you get absorbed into the story. And I will read his other novels because I'm curious to see if my complaints are simply contained to this book or if it's endemic to his entire oeuvre.
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