The Governor's Wife by Michael Harvey, review by Todd Robins
In the opening scene of Michael Harvey’s new novel, the Chicago private detective Michael Kelly gets an e-mail alert that he can’t ignore: an anonymous offer to pay him $100,000 if he’ll try to find the former Governor, convicted felon, and fugitive Ray Perry. The politician vanished from the courthouse two years previously on the day of his sentencing. He stepped into an elevator car, the door closed, and poof. No one has seen him since.
Kelly is appropriately leery of the offer, but to the extent that the money is clearly available, he finds it hard to pass up. Mainly, though, he’s intrigued by the case. Perry is no small matter. The detective tells us that “Perry had been convicted…on seventeen counts of wire fraud and racketeering. Like any red-blooded Chicago politician, Perry had only done what came naturally. He’d met with potential donors and threatened to destroy them unless they ponied up enough dough for his reelection run.”
The detective looks into it and encounters an array of unfathomable characters. Ray Perry’s wife, Marie, was left behind that day in the courthouse and, though tough enough to deal with the aftermath, clearly has something to hide. So does her dad, name of Bones McIntyre, a political fixer from the old days with little good to say about anyone, including his daughter. Kelly meets with Karen Simone, an attractive charity hospital administrator who may have been intimate with Perry, as well as a savvy grad student who hangs around the courthouse, claiming to be a “Chicago buff.” The clues point to a shadowy network of public works contractors, but Kelly’s allies, the homicide detective Vince Rodriguez and the investigative reporter Jack O’Donnell, advise him to exercise care when in the presence of those individuals.
Harvey is accomplished at writing old school detective novels about his old school character. The Governor’s Wife delivers crisp prose in a suspenseful story, front-to-back.
As Kelly says early on, “It’s not that Chicagoans were especially bothered by the idea of a politician lining his pockets. They just didn’t appreciate having their civic face rubbed in it.”