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THE FIFTH FLOOR
by Michael Harvey
Alfred Knopf, August 2008
288 pages
$23.95
ISBN: 0307266877


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Chicago PI Michael Kelly would be a happier man if Janet Woods would take his advice and leave her abusive husband. Janet was Kelly‛s girlfriend years ago, and although he knows he‛ll never be more than a friend to her now, he can‛t help feeling protective towards her. When she arrives on his doorstep bruised and battered once again, Kelly decides it‛s time to have it out with

Johnny Woods.

Kelly asks his old friend Fred Jacobs for information on Woods. Johnny is a heavyweight in Chicago politics, working for the major as a "fixer" of political problems. Kelly, who lost his job on the police force after a previous run-in with the mayor, knows he could make enemies if he leans on Johnny too hard. After speaking with Jacobs, Kelly decides to tail Woods when he leaves his City Hall office. Kelly follows Johnny to a house near Lincoln Park owned by a rare book collector. Johnny looks worried when he leaves the house after spending less than two minutes inside. Curious as to what spooked Johnny, Kelly goes inside to find a body hanging from a staircase.

Never one to let a mystery go unsolved, Kelly starts digging into what is obviously a murder, even though it‛s called a suicide by the police. Secretly helped by a cop due to retire soon from the force, Kelly discovers a tie between the mayor and the dead man involving a century-old accusation of arson.

Could the mayor‛s ancestors be to blame for the Great Chicago Fire of 1871? If they were, who would even care today? Obviously someone cares enough to kill a man, but is that person Johnny Woods? Kelly digs through the records in a Chicago museum to come up with answers in this most baffling of cases.

Harvey follows up his much applauded first novel, THE CHICAGO WAY, with another brilliantly plotted story of political chicanery. Chicagoans will appreciate the author‛s timely tie-ins to present-day real politics in the City of Big Shoulders, while non-residents will enjoy the lively descriptions of the city with its landmark museums, diverse neighborhoods, and well-known restaurants. All readers will enjoy the book‛s twisting plot line, well-drawn characters, and edgy dialogue. Kelly is a PI with an attitude, a man who‛s lost as much as he‛s won out of life. Knowing the power of political retaliation, Kelly elbows his way in and out of trouble with the caution of a behind-the-lines sniper low on bullets. He cuts corners where he can, but he refuses to put his friends in harm‛s way. His cleverness and fortitude make him the perfect protagonist in this semi-cold case mystery that‛s sure to win kudos from readers and reviewers alike.

Reviewed by Mary V. Welk, September 2008

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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