Title: The Third Rail
Author: Michael Harvey
Release Date: March 22, 2011
Rating: 4 out of 5
Michael Harvey’s third book featuring weathered PI Michael Kelly revolves around Chicago’s public transportation and the El train. After Kelly sees a woman murdered in a train station, he chases the perpetrator down, and finds himself caught. Instead of killing him, though, the murderer merely leaves him unconscious in an alley. Kelly must discover why he was left alive, and even more important, who is behind this series of killings in Chicago.
I really enjoyed the first two books in the Michael Kelly series, The Chicago Way and The Fifth Floor, so I was really looking forward to The Third Rail. Once again, private detective Michael Kelly is back, with all the excitement and adventure I’ve come to expect from these books.
The plot of The Third Rail is a little more convoluted than the first two books in this series. Specifically, Michael Kelly has a very close connection to the murders that are occurring in Chicago, and it doesn’t come to light in the clearest way. I can’t say more than that without giving away key plot points, but I will say that while I enjoyed the writing and Kelly’s character development immensely, I had to really pay attention to understand what was going on plot-wise. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing at all, but my previous experience with these books is that they were easy books to fall into. The Third Rail requires more brain power, but it’s expertly written and is worth the effort.
The events in The Third Rail are actually based on a real murder that occurred in the 1970’s in Chicago, which made the book that much more interesting for me. The book is also very intense, confronting serious issues in a film-noir style.
I thoroughly enjoyed this latest installment in the Michael Kelly series, and can’t wait for the next one. Harvey hinted that the next book might involve some sort of biological or chemical attack, and I am very curious as to how such a classic detective would handle such a modern problem. It certainly will be interesting to see, and I can’t wait until it comes out.