As this book opens, former Chicago cop turned private detective Michael Kelly is on the platform at an elevated station when a young woman is gunned down, seemingly at random. A short time later, a passenger on one of the elevated trains is killed by a sniper. Maybe the two crimes are connected, maybe they’re not, but in short order, a task force including the FBI and the Chicago police is put together to search for the killer or killers.
Kelly is involved, too, more than he knows at first, because it soon becomes apparent, at least to him, that the motivation for the crimes can be traced back to something in his own past. The fact that the first murder took place in his presence is no coincidence. So without any resources other than his own, he sets out to untangle what’s going on and try to prevent any more killing.
THE THIRD RAIL is much more of a thriller than a traditional private eye novel. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Author Michael Harvey puts together a nice, twisty plot, good characters, and some hardboiled prose to come up with an entertaining blend. This is one of those books that offer a mixture of first-person and third-person chapters, a common technique in modern thrillers that the old curmudgeon in me doesn’t really care for, but I’ve grown more accepting of it when the author is a good writer, and Harvey is.
This is the third book to feature Michael Kelly, the first two being THE CHICAGO WAY and THE FIFTH FLOOR. I haven’t read them, but based on THE THIRD RAIL, I probably should. It’s a good solid thriller and is worth reading.