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THE CHICAGO WAY – “A Chicago Red Hot”

September 18, 2011

The Chicago Way by Michael Harvey

Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, 2007

303 pages, $13.95

This book is a little like taking an El from the Northside to the loop in Chicago. At first you slip by, even stop at, some comfortable urban neighborhoods. Sure there’s a crime for private investigator, Mike Kelly, but also bars near Wriggly Field, beef sandwich diners and old friends on the Chicago police force. Then the El dips down and becomes a subway, streaking through tunnels of rape, serial crime and unsolved murders.

I have to admit this last part almost lost me. I read to get away from gruesome, real-life problems. And some of the parallels to the Greek classics Kelly reads, seem strained. But Harvey  has tricks up his sleeve that catch even the most experienced mystery-story reader and turn things upside down. Like it or not, we are in for the climax. And afterward conclude it was well worth the ride.

P.I. Michael Kelly’s Chicago
So where does a detective go to quench his thirst in the Windy City? The author offers Kelly’s top five places to get a pint.

1. The Hidden Shamrock, 2723 North Halsted Street
Best pint of Guinness in the city. Besides, Kelly knows the owners.

2. Celtic Crossings, 751 North Clark Street
A print of James Joyce’s death mask hangs in a frame behind the bar. Around closing, it’s the liveliest-looking thing in the place.

3. Billy Goat Tavern, 430 North Michigan Avenue, Lower Level
A Chicago legend. And a good place to eavesdrop on the ink-stained wretches that make a living out of other people’s misfortune, also known as newspaper reporters. (Learn more about the Billy Goat when Kelly drops in for a drink in his second novel, due out in 2008.)

4. Hopleaf Bar, 5148 North Clark Street
Beer in three hundred different flavors. Need we say more?

5. Coq D’Or inside the Drake Hotel, 140 East Walton Place
Old school Chicago. Order an Executive Martini, made with eight ice cubes and poured from a brandy snifter. Then find yourself a cab home.

Buy directly from Amazon for $11.75. Click on the title here: The Chicago Way (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)

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