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For all that it involves organized crime, naked women, grumpy bouncers, a serious snowstorm, and a hero with a profound drinking pattern, The Ice Harvest is a quiet little book--noir-ish, certainly, but never to excess. As the novel traces Charlie Arglist's trail around his small Kansas hometown on Christmas Eve, 1979, the lawyer's literal footprints are clear enough, given the whopper of a blizzard that's descended, but his metaphorical path is far less obvious. He's killing time before leaving town, but where is he going? And why?
Scott Phillips' sketch of a crooked lawyer on the lam is amusingly ironic: though there's violence aplenty in the novel--including a morbidly comic finger-breaking scene starring Spencer, a philosophical bouncer at the Sweet Cage, one of the strip clubs Charlie oversees for Bill Gerard--this is Waiting for Godot rather than Goodfellas. Phillips masterfully sets up the reader's expectations for action and adventure, dropping cryptic hints about Charlie's past, present, and future, then gleefully keeps Charlie in a holding pattern, circling from one strip club to another, from bars to massage parlors to his former in-laws' house.
But when the world isn't scripted by Beckett, all waiting games must come to an end. Charlie's gamble--it would be cheating to tell you more than that it involves a little cocaine, a beautiful woman of indeterminate origin, a Christmas package full of cash, and an embarrassing photograph--pays off, and he heads out of town. How far does he get? Well, that's another story--and another opportunity for Phillips to show off the mordant humor that may brand him as the Cohen brothers' literary heir apparent. In his hands, Kansas doesn't seem far at all from Fargo. --Kelly Flynn --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Everywhere you look, trashy people are doing trashy things in this darkly delicious debut comic thriller. Set in the middle of a Christmas Eve blizzard in 1979 Wichita, the novel opens with lawyer-turned-petty-mobster Charlie Arglist marking time before an important meeting with his shady partner, Vic Cavanaugh. After this meeting he plans to leave Wichita hurriedly with a load of cash and, presumably, the enmity of its rightful owner, Bill Gerard, the local head of a larger regional crime syndicate. Charlie and Vic run a string of strip bars around Wichita for Gerard, from which they have been skimming cash on the sly. But Charlie, who sets out to visit all the outposts in his "empire" one last time, lets a drunken spirit of Yuletide sentimentality (or maybe spite) trigger an unprecedented (and therefore highly visible) string of improvisations. He comps some of his dancers' shakedown money, causing a riot at a club; he unwisely lets his would-be girlfriend in on one of Gerard's blackmail scams. Then he and his ex-brother-in-law crash the Christmas gathering of their cumulative ex-family, setting off a whole new string of disasters. For Charlie there is only the imminent future of his escape with Gerard's money, and it isn't until he discovers a fresh corpse buried behind Vic's empty house that he realizes that his future isn't what it used to be. Newcomer Phillips's seedy characters are skillfully developed, particularly the semiremorseful Charlie. The frigid Midwestern setting is the perfect frame for Charlie's wretched situation; the time period emphasizes the low-level viciousness of Charlie's contemporaries, and Phillips wastes no time in piling up the bodies. Charlie's final confrontation with Gerard will likely leave readers nauseated with laughterAaltogether not a bad way to debut in crime fiction. Agent, Nicole Aragi at Watkins-Loomis. Rights sold in the U.K., Germany, Italy, Japan and Spain. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Gritty, real characters. Quick moving plot that kept me involved and wanting to know who does what next during the entire read.Published 19 months ago by Howard Levinson
In a grimy Wichita bar with a nodding-off drunk and a determinedly oblivious barmaid. Where else could you possibly want to be on Christmas Eve? Read morePublished on May 2, 2012 by jonathan briggs
The author tries to shock you with a lot of disgusting language and characters, but he simply bores you with a terrible plot that follows a drunken drug pusher through multiple... Read morePublished on March 2, 2012 by J. Christensen
The Ice Harvest is a rare gem - a contemporary mystery that captures the magic of 1950s noir. The novel concerns Charlie Arglist, an alcoholic Wichita, Kansas, attorney who has... Read morePublished on September 18, 2011 by stoic
The book settles early into a nice, readable pace. Details paid out a bit at a time. The weather and mood are foreboding, growing steadily darker towards dawn. Read morePublished on August 8, 2011 by Christopher Pimental
I sat down to read this before a nap, and next thing I know I'd finished it. It's a short book, but really, Phillips is one of those rare writers who draws you in without you even... Read morePublished on November 2, 2010 by Jimmy Callaway
When I read all the reviews on the book jacket, saying this novel was a great innovation in the noir genre and equaled the works of James M. Read morePublished on July 2, 2010 by M. Drudzinski
Not enough bad things to say. Basically, it's a cliche bad thriller that badly wants to be a bad movie (the kind you see at the $1 theater). The beginning is incredibly slow going. Read morePublished on February 25, 2010 by XopShed