Deep Freeze

Thom Racina, Author . Signet $7.99 (366p) ISBN 978-0-451-21552-9

On the surface, Racina's highly readable thriller has all the ingredients of a perfect summer read: a major natural disaster, an art gallery heist, steamy sex and racial and familial tension. The action focuses on a wealthy Los Angeles family whose members are scattered throughout the city when a devastating snow and ice storm hits Southern California. Bob and Aileene Hanwell are the worried, homebound parents of Michael (a likable TV news weatherman with a wife and baby daughter), Harry (a slimy talent agent who married a washed-up, alcoholic actress) and Susan (who suffers from severe pancreatitis and contracts her most crippling bout during the storm). In a subplot, a cult inspired by Charles Manson's followers believes the storm will usher in a race war and Armageddon. Racina's novel is a strange mix of the extraordinary and the mundane: on one hand, the freak storm's increasing severity keeps the reader's apprehension high, and on the other, the pages are filled with characters complaining about how the weather is inconveniencing their self-absorbed lives. Even as death, destruction and violence occur around them, they often act eerily nonchalant, which undermines the novel's suspense. Still, Racina (Deadly Game ) succeeds in painting a grim picture of the all-too-possible effects of extreme global warming. Agent, Jane Dystel . (June)

Reviewed on: 05/23/2005
Release date: 06/01/2005
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