The Ice Harvest

Scott Phillips, Author Ballantine Books $19.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-345-44018-1
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 laughter--altogether 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.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/2000
Release date: 10/01/2000
Ebook - 130 pages - 978-0-345-48602-8
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-345-44019-8
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7861-2739-9
Compact Disc - 978-0-7861-8199-5
MP3 CD - 978-0-7861-8511-5
Compact Disc - 978-0-7861-8576-4
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7861-2923-2
Downloadable Audio - 1 pages - 978-0-7861-3592-9
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