Friday, August 30, 2013
Review of The Third Rail by Michael Harvey (Bloomsbury, 2010)
The Third Rail is the third instalment of the Michael Kelly series and the first I’ve read. The story is told at a quick pace using short chapters each with a tension point designed to keep the pages turning. This keeps the story moving along, but sacrifices character development and limits contextualisation. Kelly is a typical tough guy PI, is incredibly well connected, and just happens to find himself at the centre of a major incident which only he and his techie buddy can solve. Thrillers often teeter at the edge of credibility and The Third Rail wanders this line throughout, tipping over it at the end with a twist that was neither needed nor made much sense. Moreover, the task force investigation seemed overly amateur and divisive, and, interestingly, Chicago seems to have no surveillance cameras or useful witnesses. The result was a workmanlike thriller that lacked depth and resonance, with a plot and characters with whom I failed to connect.