CITY OF ICE by John Farrow


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A long, convoluted, debut thriller that’s a test of reader stamina. Generally regarded as the top cop in the MUCPD (Montreal Urban Community Police Department), Emile Cinq-Mars accepts the billing as no more than his due. But team playing “is not my style,” he informs the head of an elite task force who tries hard to recruit him. The task involves the obliteration of biker gangs currently enjoying a hot time in the City of Ice. A worthwhile task, Cinq-Mars acknowledges, since these aren’t just ordinary beer-guzzling, property-damaging, head-breaking biker gangs; these nasties seem highly organized, with an international flavor to their nefarious activities that hints at sophistication and staying power. Still, Cinq-Mars insists, whatever a team can do, a smart, tough, supercool copper can do better by his lonesome. This is, however, a position a little on the ingenuous side, since the truth is that for some years Cinq-Mars has been the beneficiary of a remarkably efficient snitch network not of his making. Tip after tip has led him to big-time arrests. The tips are pure gold; everything else about the network remains a mystery. Cinq-Mars has been disposed to treat his ignorance with a Gallic shrug, but now dead bodies start piling up—with trenchant little messages attached that are aimed at the great detective, tweaking him in his amour-propre. Certain that the snitch network is somehow connected to the needling, Cinq-Mars, like it or not, is going to have to penetrate it. And there are still the biker gangs to bring to justice. From there on, it’s a war on two fronts—lots of battles, tactics, sound and fury—that takes about a hundred years to end. The pseudonymous Farrow (—a highly respected Canadian writer of literary fiction—) seeds his first thriller—and first US publication—with good scenes here and there, then plows them under all those pages.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-375-50140-1
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1999


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