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The Third Rail
Michael Harvey

April 20, 2010/ ISBN 978-0307272508
Crime fiction/Suspense/Thriller

Reviewed by Dennis Collins


Michael Kelly is an ex-Chicago cop turned Private Investigator. He witnesses a murder at a railway transit platform and chases the gunman only to be ambushed by the killer’s accomplice. The assassin knows who Michael Kelly is and taunts him before leaving him unconscious in the snow covered alley. The killer isn’t finished though, he rents a room overlooking Chicago’s “L” and, with a high powered rifle he picks off another innocent transit customer. When the landlord of the apartment building gets a little nosy, his throat is slit and he’s left to die on the apartment floor. His next stop is a vantage point with a good view of a freeway where he adds victims to his list. And then the murderer calls Michael Kelly to further mock him.

Kelly knows that the perverted killer is somehow trying to link him to the murders or maybe just send him a message but the only possible connection he sees is that, as a young child he was riding that same railway when it was involved in an accident that numbered several fatalities.

A possible terrorist link is seen and the FBI is called in followed closely by Homeland Security and the expected inter-agency power struggle begins. The City of Chicago is not about to take a back seat to murder investigations in their home town and the mayor calls on Michael Kelly to quietly lend his expertise. Michael engages the help of a retired cop and a computer geek who seems to have an uncanny ability to follow the faintest cyber-trail. He also finds an unlikely ally in the lead FBI agent.

Things begin to get out of hand when Michael’s girlfriend, a Chicago Judge is kidnapped and her fate dangled in front of Michael as bait.

Although Michael Harvey has had two previous novels published, The Third Rail is the first of his books that I’ve had the opportunity to read. It’s a genuine thriller with plenty of action and a very complex plot. Harvey’s writing style is hard and abrupt energy blended with a high moral standard and a firm sense of responsibility. It reminds me a little bit of Mickey Spillane.

Reviewer's Note:

Reviewed 2011
© 2011