9780307386298

The Fifth Floor

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780307386298

  • ISBN10:

    0307386295

  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-07-14
  • Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard

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Summary

Private detective Michael Kelly returns in a lightning-paced, intricately woven mystery. When Kelly is hired by an old girlfriend to tail her abusive husband, he expects trouble of a domestic rather than a historical nature. Life, however, is not so simple. The trail leads to a dead body in an abandoned house on Chicago's North Side and then to places Kelly would rather not go: specifically, City Hall's fabled fifth floor, where the mayor is feeling the heat. Kelly becomes embroiled in a scam that stretches from current politics back to the night Chicago burned to the ground. Along the way, he finds himself framed for murder, before finally facing a killer bent on rewriting history.

Author Biography

Michael Harvey is the creator, writer, and executive producer of the television series Cold Case Files, as well as an Academy Award-nominee for his documentary Eyewitness, and is a former investigative reporter for CBS. He earned a law degree at Duke and a masters in journalism from Northwestern. He also owns a bar in Chicago. He is the author of The Chicago Way.

Excerpts

CHAPTER 1

I pushed the slim volume of poetry across my desk and into her lap. The woman with auburn hair, perfect posture, and a broken life picked it up.

"I can't read this," she said, and lifted her head.

"That's because it's in Latin," I said. "Why don't you take off the sunglasses?"

"Why don't you translate for me?"

"Take off the glasses."

The woman slid the dark frames up and off her face. Her left eye was brown and watering. Her right was black and swollen shut. The cheekbone below it offered a study in shades of purple, blue, and yellow.

"You get the picture?" she said.

"The poem is by Catullus. First line readsOdi et amo. Translates asI hate and I love."

"And this is my life?"

"People say it's a love poem, but they're wrong. It's about abuse, about not being able to get out, even when the door is wide open and the whole world is yelling that very thing in your ear."

"I can't just leave. It's not that simple."

"It never is. Let me ask you something. How do you think this ends?"

The woman dropped her eyes back to her lap.

"You're a smart woman, Janet. You can figure it out. You wind up hurt real bad. Maybe dead. Or . . ."

She raised her head again. "Or what?"

"Or he winds up dead. Either way, it's not good."

She thinned her lips and set a hard edge at the corners of her mouth. There'd never been anything soft about Janet Woods' face. Beautiful, yes. Even through the bruises. But never soft.

"What do you want?" she said.

"Same thing I wanted three months ago. Get you out of there. Today. Taylor's in school, right?"

She nodded.

"Okay. We pick her up. I take you to a safe place. No one knows but me, you, and your little girl. Then I approach your husband. Explain the situation to him."

"Johnny will never go for it."

"He doesn't decide, Janet. He just listens."

She hesitated, then shook her head. "I can't. Not right now."

I leaned back in my chair and looked toward the front windows. The sun had cracked through my blinds, and dust floated in panels of afternoon light.

"Don't make this personal, Michael."

I swept my gaze back across the room. "Excuse me?"

Janet had brought a cup of Starbucks with her. She took a final sip and dropped the cup into a wastebasket near her feet. Then she crossed her legs and deflated a little with a sigh.

"I said, 'Don't make this personal.'"

"What does that mean?"

She shrugged and stared at the line of her calf, the angle of her shoe.

"I don't know. Just don't."

I breathed lightly through my nose and let the silence between us settle. Old friends make lousy clients. When that friend was once something more, things only get worse. I considered the tangle of history that bound us to each other, but got nowhere with it.

Then I sat forward, tented my fingers on the surface of my desk, and smiled. "How about some lunch?"

Janet closed the book I'd given her and dropped the glasses back over her face. "Sounds good."

"Let's go," I said. "There's a new place down the street."

She unfolded slowly from her chair, moving stiffly for a woman in her thirties. I figured Johnny Woods might be doing a little bodywork as well but didn't comment.

We made our way out of my office and down the corridor. I stopped about halfway down. My client stopped with me. She kept her eyes fastened on her feet as she spoke. "What?"

"Let me at least approach him. Just once. I can run into him by accident."

"What good will that do?&q

Excerpted from The Fifth Floor by Michael Harvey
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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