City of Ice : A Novel

Author: John Farrow
Edition year: 1999
HorizonsUnlimited description:

A college kid in a Santa Claus suit is tortured, murdered, and left hanging from a meat hook on Christmas Eve--a gift intended for one particular cop.
        
Reminiscent of Smilla's Sense of Snow, this gripping debut thriller set in bone-chilling midwinter Montreal features one of the most compelling new heroes to emerge in crime fiction: Sergeant-Detective Émile Cinq-Mars. A brilliant logician, an eccentric who follows his own rules, this old-style cop is beleaguered by the virulent crime wave that has engulfed his city. While political uncertainty over separatism has damaged Montreal's social and economic life, organized crime has been quick to take advantage. The Russian Mafia, rival motorcycle gangs, and infiltrators from the CIA are engaged in violent turf wars, while the police force--teeming with corruption--struggles to keep the city safe.
        
Even Cinq-Mars, whose stunning arrests have made him a local hero, appears to have been compromised. How has he managed to penetrate Montreal's criminal elite? Who are his informants and how do they acquire their vast knowledge? And who is the young female American operative he seems so desperate to save from the clutches of the mob?
        
Against the backdrop of events in today's headlines, John Farrow constructs a vivid tableau peopled with home-grown and international criminals, each fighting for a piece of this frozen city, where dynamite and chain saws have become the weapons of choice. Taut and timely, City of Ice dazzles with its complex plot and grittily realized characters; it's a suspense read that's difficult to put down, impossible to forget.

HorizonsUnlimited reviews:

The New York Times Book Review, Peter Khoury

Rich descriptions of Montreal in winter blend well with the bone-chilling plot...
Amazon.com

"An unusual hero and a fresh, sharply observed Montreal setting add strength to this ambitious but overlong first thriller by John Farrow (the pseudonym of noted Canadian novelist Trevor Ferguson).

The chief protagonist of City of Ice is Emile Cinq-Mars of the Montreal Urban Community Police. He works by himself but is supported by a large network of informants. A new species of criminal seems to be moving into the Montreal crime scene: sophisticated biker gangs, apparently backed by the currently ubiquitous Russian mafia. When serious turf wars develop, an elite task force is formed to combat the gangs. Cinq-Mars is pressed to join, but initially decides to wage his war alone. Then his informants begin to disappear and die, and the biker gangs take on even more dangerous significance. He is forced to reconsider his independent status.

Cinq-Mars has a darkly modern, almost surreal streak. He's the consummate loner, but his life is full of surprises. City of Ice is an impressive debut--but next time let's have 50 pages less. --Dick Adler"

This book has had some good reviews elsewhere as well (Grant)


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