From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Harvey's superb second thriller to feature PI Michael Kelly (after 2007's The Chicago Way
) has the ex-Chicago cop taking on what he thinks is a simple domestic violence case. But when he tails Johnny Woods, a fixer for the city's powerful mayor, to what turns out to be a grisly murder scene, Kelly realizes he's stumbled onto a scandal that began with the great Chicago Fire of 1871. Digging deeper, Kelly unearths what was once considered an urban legend: two of Chicago's most eminent families conspiring to eradicate Irish immigrants by burning down the city's slums. As more bodies pile up and he becomes romantically involved with a judge with secrets of her own, Kelly vows to expose the conspiracy, even if that means putting himself on the wrong side of the city's most powerful men. Harvey's plot twists in all the right places, and his noir-inspired dialogue crackles without sounding showy. Marlowe and Spade would readily welcome Michael Kelly into their fold. 4-city author tour. (Aug.)
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*Starred Review* Did the great-great-grandfather of the present mayor of Chicago and the owner-editor of the Chicago Tribune conspire in a land swindle that led to the Great Chicago Fire? That’s the nub of this first-rate follow-up to Harvey’s much-praised debut novel, The Chicago Way (2007 ). PI Michael Kelly stumbles onto the question while investigating a political fixer for current mayor John J. Wilson, a distinctly Daleyesque, semienlightened despot who rules Chicago with a sometimes heavy hand. The mayor and his bare-knuckles politicos seem abnormally interested in the theory, and their interest compels Kelly to pursue the case, putting him and people he cares about at risk. The Fifth Floor offers a fresh take on the classic American private-eye novel. Reading it feels like putting on a favorite old sweater on a nasty Chicago November day, and it recalls Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald at the top of their form. Harvey makes Chicago and its politics a primary character, and the picture he paints is knowing and shrewd. Hizzoner is a scary wielder of raw political power but also a man determined to make the city a better place to live. Like Chicago itself, The Fifth Floor is edgy but intoxicating, and Harvey seems ready to join Sara Paretsky at the top of the city’s crime-fiction A-list. --Thomas Gaughan