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On Sale: August 21, 2007
Pages: 0 | ISBN: 978-0-307-26775-7
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Private detective Michael Kelly is hired by his former partner to solve an eight-year old rape and battery case long gone cold. But when the partner turns up dead, Kelly enlists a team of his savviest colleagues to connect the dots between the recent murder and the cold case it revived: a television reporter whose relationship with Kelly is not strictly professional; his best friend from childhood, a forensic DNA expert; and an old ally from the DA's office. To close the case, Kelly will have to face the mob, a serial killer, his own double-crossing friends, and the mean streets of the city he loves.


Chapter 1

I was on the second floor of a three-story walk-up on Chicago’s North Side. Outside the Hawk blew hard off the lake and flattened itself against the bay windows. I didn’t care. I had my feet up, a cup of Earl Grey, and my own list of the ten greatest moments in Cubs history.

For the first half hour I was stuck on number one. Then I realized the greatest moments at Clark and Addison are always about to be. With that I settled in and mapped out the starting rotation for next year’s world champions. That’s when I saw him.

Actually, I sensed John Gibbons before I saw him. But that’s just how it was with Gibbons. From waist to shoulders he was of one dimension, that being massive. His head sat on a bulldog neck, with short ears and gray hair clipped close. His nose showed the back rooms of Chicago’s alleys. His eyes were still clear, cool, and blue. He cornered me with a look and smiled.

“Hello, Michael.”

Gibbons had been retired from the force five years now. I hadn’t seen him in four, but it didn’t matter. We had some history. He shook off the rain and threw a chair toward my desk. He sat down as if he belonged there and always had. I put the Cubs away, pulled open the bottom drawer, and found a bottle of Powers Irish. John took it straight. Just to be sociable, I gave Sir Earl a jolt.

“What’s up, John?”

He hesitated. For the first time I noticed his suit, uncomfortably cheap, and his tie, a clip-on. In his hands he twisted a soft felt hat.

“Got a case for you, Michael.”

He always called me Michael, which was okay since that was my name. I didn’t want to derail him, but my curiosity held sway.

“Jesus, John, who’s dressing you these days?”

The big man reddened a bit and looked down at the outfit.

“Pretty bad, huh? The wife. Did you know the wife, Michael?”

I shook my head. I didn’t know anything about John that wasn’t three years old. His personal file at that time read widower. His first wife, an Irishwoman from Donegal, got a message from her doctor one day about an X-ray. Two weeks later, she was gone. I had sent a card and given John a call.

“The wife, the second wife that is, she left about a year ago,” Gibbons said. “She was a younger type, you know.”

John always had a weakness for them. Women, that is. It’s been my experience if you have that sort of weakness, the younger ones tend only to aggravate the situation.

“So you been dressing yourself?” I said.

“For some time.”

“And you get all dressed up to come here?”

A nod.

“To see me?”

Another nod.

“I got a case, Michael.”

“So I gather.”

I freshened his drink and poured a bit more hot water into my mug.

“You remember 1997.”

“Before my time,” I said.

“Not by much. Anyway, it was Christmas Eve. I had the windows rolled down. You remember I used to keep the windows down. Even when it was cold. Well, I’m driving the squad by myself. Down in South Chicago.”

I knew South Chicago. A collection of warehouses and whorehouses. Dry docks and rough trade. A nasty bit of Chicago, crumbling at the edges and blending into Indiana gray.

“I hear a shot,” John said. “Roll around a corner and see this girl running down the middle of the street. Head-to-toe blood. The guy is right behind her. He’s got a .38 in one hand and a knife in the other. Sticking her as they run.”

John closed his eyes for a moment and left the room. When he opened them, he was back. I didn’t feel so comfortable anymore.

“Couple decades on the job, Michael. Never saw anything close to it. I get out of the car, she’s coming right at me. I just catch the both of them. He’s on top and I can still hear that knife. Made like a suction noise. I reach around with my piece and put it to his head. For the first time he registers me and stops.”

“None of this is ringing a bell, John.”

“It should ring a bell, huh?”

I nodded.

“Well, let me finish. So we are all three on the ground. Me with the gun to his head and the girl in between us. Her face was about six inches from mine. I could smell the death on her, you know?”

I knew.

“So we untangle. I put the guy on the ground and cuff him. He says nothing. I slap him around a bit. Still nothing. I look at the girl. She’s cut up pretty good, stabbed more than once in the chest. I get a pulse and call for the medics.”

John got up and walked across to the window.

“Hot in here, isn’t it?”

John cracked the window.

“It’s thirty-five outside with freezing rain and gusts,” I said.

“Gusts?” His shoulders turned my way and the rest followed.

“That’s what they called them,” I said. “Gusts. Gusts ain’t good.”

John left the window open and walked back to the chair.

“So we get this girl into an ambulance. She was a looker, Michael. Did I tell you that?”

I was waiting for that part. “Let me guess. You fell for her.”

“Jesus, Michael. She was covered in blood and half-dead. Besides, she was just a kid.”

“Go on.”

“Anyway, I find out she was running from his car. It’s a shitbox Chevy idling in the middle of the street. I pop the trunk and what do I find?”

“Tell me.”

“Sheets of plastic. Rolls of the stuff. And rope. Lots of rope. I open the driver’s door. There’s plenty of blood. Under both seats, I find custom-made carriers. In one, he’s got a bulldog shotgun. In the other, he’s got a machete strapped up there. Over both visors, two more leather fittings. One for the gun he had. The other for the knife.”

“Not the guy’s first dance?”

“No sir,” John said. “So I take him downtown and throw him in the slam. It’s past midnight, I figure I can sort him out tomorrow.”


“I come in the next day. He’s gone.”


“The chief then. You didn’t know him. Dave Belmont.”

“Heard the name,” I said.

“Nice guy, career cop. Dead now. Didn’t ever want any beefs. Just keep your mouth shut and put your time in. That kind of guy. Anyway, he takes me into the office. Says forget about it. Says the guy is gone and it’s over. Never happened. Then he gives me this.”

From his pocket John Gibbons took out a piece of green velvet. Clipped inside was a silver Police Medal. The highest award a Chicago cop can get. Score one and your career is made.

“Those are hard to come by, John.”

“Part of the deal. I get the medal, a pay raise, and promotion. In return . . . ”

“You forget about it.”

“That’s right. So I did.”

“And nine years later you want to do what?”

“Well, I really don’t want to do anything. But then I got this.”

From his other pocket John Gibbons pulled a letter.

“And what is that?”

“It’s a letter.”

“I can see that.”

“From the girl. The girl from that night.”

“From nine years ago?”


“She didn’t die, I take it.”

“We need to help her, Michael.”

“We . . . ”

“I poked around a bit.“ Gibbons shrugged. “Didn’t really get anywhere.”

As a detective, my old partner was a good piece of muscle. Someone to break down doors, even if he had no idea what might be on the other side.

“You’re the best I ever worked with,” Gibbons continued. “You know it. I know it. Everyone on the force knew it. If you can help out, I’d be grateful.”

The Irishman threw an envelope across the table. I opened it up and enjoyed the warm feeling money can sometimes give a person. Then I looked up and across the desk.

”Tell me about the girl,” I said.

Gibbons began to talk. I picked up the letter and, reluctantly, began to read.

From the Hardcover edition.
Michael Harvey|Author Q&A

About Michael Harvey

Michael Harvey - The Chicago Way

Photo © David Turner

MICHAEL HARVEY is the author of The Innocence Game, The Chicago Way, The Fifth Floor, The Third Rail, and We All Fall Down, and is also a journalist and documentary producer. His work has received numerous national and international awards, including multiple news Emmys, two Primetime Emmy nominations, and an Academy Award nomination. He holds a law degree with honors from Duke University, a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and a bachelor's degree, magna cum laude, in classical languages from Holy Cross College. He lives, of course, in Chicago.


Author Q&A

Q: Where did the idea for THE CHICAGO WAY come from?

Good question. I had around about a hundred pages of this novel sitting in the back of a drawer for about two years. I pulled that out in April of 2006 and decided I wanted to finish it. At that time, I had a beginning and an end with not much else in between. So I just decided to sit down and write.

I let the characters start talking and they told me where to go with the story. The specific plot lines are all fictitious. I have, however, had a lot of contact with cops, killers, prosecutors, and forensic types. through my work as a journalist and documentary producer. That experience, to some extent, informs the entire manuscript and hopefully adds an air of authenticity to the novel.

Q: You are the creator of the highly popular television show Cold Case Files. How did you come to be involved in that show?

The year was 1997. I was working away on a variety of documentary projects both for television and film. My work covered a range of topics, everything from the Holocaust to life inside the Clinton White House. The bulk of my documentary work, however, focused on the inner workings of the criminal justice system. (This was before CSI and its progeny.) Most of the general public had never heard of DNA, except through the prism of the OJ Simpson trial. As I talked to prosecutors and detectives and saw what was going on, it became apparent that the science of forensic DNA was going to change the criminal justice system in a way that was fundamental and unprecedented. I’m no genius but I figured we might want to pay attention to that.

The specific angle of cold cases was really a story-telling decision. The idea that a box of evidence could sit on a shelf for decades and then suddenly be pulled down, dusted off and mined for the name of the killer had a lot of appeal. I always thought of it as the “ultimate whodunit.” To that end, the first hour was written and shot in a film noir style. We thought that would give the show a unique identity and allow us to ramp up the atmospherics.

Cold Case Files was an immediate ratings hit. The network ordered a slate of shows and we were on our way. I produced and wrote the first ten to fifteen hours. As the work load increased, I moved into a executive producer role, overseeing a wonderful team of producers, editors and photographers. Cold Case Files has been twice nominated for a Prime Time Emmy for best non-fiction series.

Q: Do you think spending so much time on unsolved crimes fed into your desire to create a protagonist whose life is dedicated to solving crimes?

Yes and no. Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler essentially created America¹s literary take on the private eye. Like most writers who work in this area, I was greatly influenced by their work. Once I started working with real detectives, I understood a little better why Hammett and Chandler are who they are. Each understood the essential character of the guy who tracks down bad guys for a living. Why he or she does it. How they do it. The inherent dangers involved and the often understated approach real-life investigators take to their job. I think for Hammett and Chandler it was never about plot. It was always about character. And, of course, wonderful writing. They understood that better than anybody.

I guess that¹s a circular way of saying that my protagonist is the product of a number of different influences, both in the world of fiction and non-fiction. There. Maybe I just should have started with that.

Q: How much of what you have seen as a reporter and documentary filmmaker inform your novel?

There¹s an old saying, “Write what you know.” I don¹t think I could have ever created the protagonist, or the story lines, of Chicago Way without my real-life journalism and documentary experience. From the rhythm of the language to the inside ball game stuff on the science of DNA and CODIS to what makes a serial killer tick, there’s no substitute for being there and seeing it first-hand. As I said earlier, while there are no specific tie-ins to story line or plot, everything I have done in the criminal justice field feeds into the mood and voice of the novel. Hopefully, that’s a good thing.

A good example is the serial killer character in Chicago Way. He has a lot of superficial connections to the killer John Wayne Gacy, whom I interviewed in 1992. The reality is that this character represents a compilation of a lot of different killers I have talked to, including Gacy. Like most real-life serial killers, my character is all about one thing: himself. Like most serial killers, my character loves to be in control and manipulate whoever and whatever he can. Be it their victims, the media or an investigator trying to solve a crime, most serial killers thrive on that sort of manipulation and control, all of which feeds their ego. Once you talk to some of these killers, you see how they work. Then it becomes much easier to bring that to life in a fiction setting.

Q: The Chicago Way tackles many of the issues surrounding the crime of rape and how victims are treated. What has drawn you to this issue and are you trying to draw attention to the problems and challenges of how rape crimes are investigated and prosecuted?

I¹d like the book to work on a couple of levels. First, I hope people find it to be a fast, enjoyable read. If they want to dig deeper, I hope they can find some real issues percolating just below the surface.

I have walked into evidence lockers around the country and found rape kits and boxes of evidence, stacked to the ceiling and waiting for DNA testing. Everyone agrees there are the names of rapists and killers waiting to be discovered here. Problem is we don’t have enough money, time or manpower to do the job. I think the scientists, cops and prosecutors are doing all they can. The problem is money. Can we get more money for DNA testing? If we can, there is no doubt we will solve cases, give victims closure and maybe even identify the serial killer living next door.

Q: What do you think accounts for the incredible popularity of true-crime and forensic programming which seems to dominate the airwaves these days?

Truth is truly stranger than fiction. Many times I have been on a documentary shoot and said to anyone who will listen, “If they made this into a movie, no one would believe it.” And yet it’s true. Real people can be incredibly violent, impossibly stupid and terribly cruel. Real people can also be wonderfully selfless, remarkably persistent and quietly noble. All in the same homicide investigation. More often than not, that makes for a good story.

Q: Does Michael Harvey share any character traits with Michael Kelly? (We hear you both have a thing for the classics).

This is a favorite question among my family members. Psychoanalyze Michael through his novel. Wonderful parlor game.

I think the parallels to myself are most obviously Kelly’s interest in classical languages. I started taking Latin in the seventh grade and picked up ancient Greek during my sophomore year in high school. I continued to study both in college and earned my degree in Classical Languages.

That’s a decade of Latin and Greek. Needless to say, I was going to figure out some way to work them into the Chicago way. Michael Kelly provided the opportunity.

The great thing about a background in classical languages is that you are not just studying the languages themselves. You are also learning from some of the most acute observers of the human condition in the history of western civilization, to wit: Homer, Plato, Aeschylus, Sophocles and Cicero, just to name a few. Using classical references in the Chicago Way allows me to introduce a lot of their concepts as a way to deepen character and, hopefully, develop plot. I guess the bottom line is there¹s a reason why Homer, Plato, Cicero et al. have survived as long as they have. Their work deals with timeless sorts of truth, concepts that are as relevant today as the day they were written. That is their genius and, hopefully, a unique way to move my novel forward.

Q: How did you come to own The Hidden Shamrock (in Chicago)? Owning a local bar must be great when it comes to collecting interesting stores, no?

I own the Hidden Shamrock with a couple of college buddies. We bought it because we thought it might be kind of fun. It has been all of that .... and then some. The best part about the Shamrock has been the people. From my fellow owners to the staff and customers that have become regulars over the years, it has been nothing but a wonderful experience. A lot of great memories and a lot of close friends. Interesting stories? Yes, there have been a few. Fodder for a possible novel? You never know.

Q: Who are some of the writers who have inspired you?

In no particular order...

John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, Charles Dickens, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Cain, Robert Parker, Dorothy Parker, Truman Capote, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Homer, Cicero, Sophocles, Shakespeare, Ovid, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis.

Q: What is next for you?

The Chicago Way is my first novel. I¹d like to continue to write more novels and hopefully hone my skills as a story teller. I have a lot of experience in the documentary world and want to continue to contribute there as well.
The nice thing about this combination is that one tends to feed the other.
My documentary experiences will hopefully keep my literary voice fresh and my story telling instincts sharp.

Television and film are also possibilities simply because I like the visual medium and have experience there. For the present, however, the novel is where I hope to focus my writing efforts.

From the Hardcover edition.



“A magnificent debut that should be read by all.” —John Grisham“An intricate, fast-paced crime thriller.” —The Chicago Sun-Times“ A smart, stylish debut.” —The Boston Globe“This book harkens the arrival of a major new voice.” —Michael Connelly“Gritty and witty, The Chicago Way is done the classic Raymond Chandler Way.” —Kathy Reichs

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