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The Fifth Floor: A Michael Kelley Novel (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) Paperback – July 14, 2009

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Frequently Bought Together

The Fifth Floor: A Michael Kelley Novel (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) + The Chicago Way (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) + The Third Rail (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
Price for all three: $35.85

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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 Reprint edition (July 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307386295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307386298
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #396,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.) ""
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Michael Harvey is the author of two crime novels, The Chicago Way and The Fifth Floor. His third book, The Third Rail, will be published by Knopf (USA) and Bloomsbury (UK) in April 2010. Michael is also a journalist and documentary producer. His work has won numerous national and international awards, including multiple CableACE and Emmy awards, as well as an Academy Award nomination. He is also the co-creator, producer and executive producer of Cold Case Files on the A&E television network. For more information, check out Michael's web site at or his Fan Page on Facebook.

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Customer Reviews

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Michael Harvey is a superb writer reminding one of the best of the earlier noir stories.
Gail Cooke
Still, its a great novel with well developed characters and a solid plot that doesn't fall apart in the end with a trite contrived ending.
Having read Michael Harvey's first novel "The Chicago Way" I had to follow the characters onto "Fifth Floor".

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
Knew I'd like The Fifth Floor after reading the opening quote which is from columnist Mike Royko in reference to Chicago: "This town was built by great men who demanded that drunkards and harlots be arrested, while charging them rent until the cops arrived."

Yes, of all American cities there is a special mystique about Chicago with its gangland murders, wealthy suburbs, and an impression that anything goes in that Windy City by the Lake. Wonder how many movies have been shot there with closeups of the city's bars, streets, and hangouts. Tell you what - cinematography has a way to go to top Michael Harvey who draws such concise, punchy word pictures of his town that we can almost slip on a "greasy set of steps, ", catch a whiff of a woman's fragrance or recoil at the sight of a dead man whose mouth is overstuffed with sand. This author ensnares readers with his words.

The Fifth Floor follows Michael Harvey's successful The Chicago Way, continuing the adventures of private detective Michael Kelly who has a penchant for trouble; he's a guy who barely makes it through each week intact.

Kelly's former girlfriend, Janet, has come to him for help. She's a lovely woman but that's a bit hard to tell with the bruises covering her face. It seems her husband, Johnny Woods, has used her to work of some steam and she has no idea why. When she refuses to leave her abusive spouse Kelly agrees to try to talk to him. But first he does a little investigating via a good friend, a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, who tutors him re the way Chicago works on the mayoral level. Mayor's offices are located on the fifth floor of City Hall.

Seems that Woods is a "fixer" for the Mayor - does whatever needs to be done to keep things running smoothly and looking clean.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Tom McGee TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Michael Harvey's second fictional thriller, The Fifth Floor staring former cop turned Private Investigator Michael Kelly is set in Chicago in 2008.

Kelly's former girl friend Janet is married to her second husband, Johnny "the fixer" Woods--a wife beater--working at the City Hall/Cook County Building for "The Fifth Floor" office of Chicago Mayor John J. Wilson.

Janet hires Mike to investigate and document her husband abuse. It had reached a stage where Johnny's 14 year old step-daughter, wants Kelly to kill him.

Michael Kelly understands abuse having grown up with a cowardly drunken father who beat him and his older brother, Phillip daily until they grew up. Like Taylor, he would have like to see his father dead.

Observing Woods enter and quickly leave the Bellinger Cottage at 2121 North Hudson with his face white from fear, Kelly enters the building and discovers the dead body of amateur historian, 75-year-old Allen Bryant, great-great-grandson of the home's original occupant, police officer, Richard Bellinger, who saved the building from the Chicago Fire in October of 1871.

From that point on the story takes the reader on a roller coaster ride full of twists and turns through the origins of "a gang of thieves, also known as Chicago's founding fathers," dirty tricks, patronage politics, graft and murder.

The author spends a great deal of time presenting a variety of alternative theories to O'Leary's cow as the cause of the Great Chicago fire.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By TMStyles VINE VOICE on October 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
With his second novel, "The Fifth Floor", following last year's "The Chicago Way", Michael Harvey has cemented his position as one of my "must read" authors in the urban noir genre. His style is infectious and spell-binding. His prose flows like a movie screen play and his sense of pacing and plotting is unassailable. As I said in my previous review of his work, his ability to paint vivid word pictures, especially of Chicago and its environs, makes me feel I have been there (which I haven't) and that I would recognize it when I someday see it.

This time around, Michael Kelly, former cop and current PI, is engaged in a domestic case involving an old girl friend who is being abused by her husband, Johnny Woods, a "fixer" for the mayor whose offices are located on "The Fifth Floor". After tailing Woods to a house where he discovers a homicide, Kelly soon discovers that a simple domestic violence case has morphed into a murder case that may involve a conspiracy of greed and power that can be traced all the way back to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

Kelly's investigation soon leads to more bodies, more crimes, the greed and corruption of the Chicago mayor's office, and even an impending mayoral election. Kelly works with local character types that are well fashioned by his spot-on characterizations, such as Fred Jacobs, a pulitizer prize winning columnist, Vince Rodriquez and Dan Masters, police colleagues who use Kelly as a stalking horse to investigate the mayor's office, and an assortment of street characters, bartenders, and cab drivers. His dialogue is lively, believable, and never out of sync.

Kelly is a gumshoe clearly in a class with the Marlowe/Spade protagonists of old. He misses few clues and can make prophetic analytical leaps in his investigations.
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