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Hard Freeze (Joe Kurtz Thriller) Hardcover – September, 2003
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|Hardcover, September, 2003||
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Having proven he can write hard-nosed noir with 2001's Hardcase, prolific genre-crossing author Dan Simmons reintroduces his gritty protagonist Joe Kurtz and promptly pitches him into the icy waters of Hard Freeze. Two pages into the book, the ex-private investigator is just minding his business on the frozen streets of Buffalo and already he's got a contract on his head. As Kurtz says, "It was shaping up to be an especially tough winter." When he finds out who the money behind the hit is, Joe's already outgunned and outmanned but never outsmarted. This wily warrior is always one step ahead of whoever is chasing him, be they crooked cops, calculating serial killers, corpulent mob bosses, or not-so-distressed damsels.
Simmons has crafted a perfectly ruthless crime novel with a relentless pace that doesn't let up until the final page. The single-minded Joe Kurtz is a wonderfully flawed and deliciously soiled noir icon. He's smart, salty, literate, smushy in all the right places, and not somebody to cross. In all, Hard Freeze is a fast-paced thriller that successfully interweaves amazingly disparate plot threads in an explosive--really explosive--climax. --Jeremy Pugh --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Hannibal Lecter meets the Godfather in multitalented Simmons's hard, brutal crime thriller, set in Buffalo, N.Y., and second in the series after Hardcase (2001). Ex-private eye Kurtz, recently released from prison after serving 11 years for killing the murderers of his beautiful partner, Samantha Fielding, finds himself stalked by the Attica Three Stooges Moe, Larry and Curly. After a bloody shootout that leaves one Stooge dead, Kurtz takes Curly for a ride in a speeding car and says: "You can take one in the head.... Then I dump you. You can take one in the belly, maybe we crash. Or you can take a chance and tuck and roll. Plus, there's some snow out there. Probably as soft as a goosedown pillow." Exit Curly. Kurtz soon learns that he's been marked for death by a local Mafia don and that the man actually responsible for Samantha's death is alive and well. And that's just for starters. Meanwhile, Kurtz is approached by John Wellington Frears, a world-famous violinist dying of colon cancer, to find his daughter's murderer a serial child-killer so adept at changing identities he could give lessons to Ferdinand Demara, the Great Impostor. Violent, fast-paced, with a high body count and plenty of sanguinary and pyrotechnic detail, this high-octane thriller should please both hard-boiled addicts and Simmons devotees. Whatever qualms one may have about Kurtz surely one of the darkest, most amoral protagonists of recent crime fiction it's Simmons at his hard-driving best.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
In Hard Freeze - the second Kurtz novel - the ex-con/private eye has once again run afoul of the Buffalo mob. Hit men are pursuing him as a bounty has been put on his life. Meanwhile, Kurtz is also helping a man find the serial killer who murdered his daughter. There are also subplots involving cops with a vendetta and the drunken stepfather of Kurtz's daughter. While Simmons is good enough to tie all these strings together, he is not good enough to make this a great novel. It is definitely good and easily merits a four star rating, but there are problems that prevent it from getting the full five stars In particular, the serial killer is a weak character; as the main villain, he should be interesting, but he is so utterly routine that any habitual mystery reader will find absolutely nothing original about him. There are also coincidences and implausibilities (such as the killer's ability to become a police captain) that are a bit irksome.
It is apparent that Simmons, a very good writer capable of writing quality novels, is writing these Kurtz novels as sort of a writing vacation. They seem as if they are written quickly and without the sophisitication that most of his books have. The end result is a fun, quick read that most will enjoy, but for Simmons's most dedicated fans, this will seem a bit beneath his abilities.
This is a freight train of a read. You can turn the pages, fast as you can read, because it's that compelling, or slow down and look in the box cars. This is like taking a class from the best professor you ever had, it's loaded with stuff, some subtle, some not.
If I didn't slow down, I would have missed the cannoli. Movies, mobsters,serial killers, crooked cops, Russian novels, Robert Parker, cars, moral development and Harvard professors, are just some of the elements.
At the finish, you congratulate yourself for seeing what you saw and wonder what you missed. This was fun.