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The Fifth Floor    by Michael Harvey Amazon.com order for
Fifth Floor
by Michael Harvey
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

If you've read Michael Harvey's first book, The Chicago Way, you are already in love with his protagonist, PI Michael Kelly. Now in The Fifth Floor, Kelly is approached by an old flame to find a way to stop her second husband from beating her up fearing her daughter may be next to be assaulted.

While something doesn't seem quite right with the whole scenario, Kelly does his best, including getting into an altercation in which the husband gets his just due. Kelly tells him he will kill him the next time it happens. Could have been a mistake to tell him that!

In the meantime, a scandal could be brewing in the Mayor of Chicago's office. The mayor's great-great-grandfather was in office at the time of the Great Fire and it looks like the august gentleman might have set the fire to rebuild Chicago the way he wanted it to be. Disclosure of this would certainly affect the current mayor's bid for re-election. At the time of the Great Fire, the original copy of the Emancipation Proclamation was presumably lost to the flames. Could it still exist? Skullduggery thickens the plot now and Kelly does his research, in order to either prove or disprove what happened that night.

The Fifth Floor's title refers to the floor in the capitol building where the mayor rests his buns during the working day. The mayor is a dictatorial man who has lackeys surrounding him to do his bidding with violence rather than political schmoosing. There's a lot going on in Harvey's second novel but he never loses a thread and keeps the pace moving forward quickly while keeping the suspense agreeably gripping. His take on a PI novel works and works well. Don't miss this one.

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