The Ice Harvest BOOK review [Scott Phillips]

Book Reviews
The Ice Harvest BOOK review [Scott Phillips]
Oct 31, 2000, 04:54

THE ICE HARVEST by Scott Phillips; Ballantine Books, 2000

Scott Phillips's debut novel is a twisted yarn that takes place on a snowy Christmas Eve in Wichita, Kansas. Charlie, a middle-aged lawyer, has packed his belongings and intends to spend his last night in town on a circuit of strip joints, massage parlors, and bars where bouncers, barmaids, strippers, and working girls mingle with cops and county commissioners. To the accompaniment of tepid seasonal songs Charlie becomes quite juiced and it is a Christmas miracle that heremains standing upright for much of the night. The evening changes dramatically, however, when he drops in on an acquaintance and finds only a pool of blood and a flap of skin lodged in the jaws of a table vice. In an effort to locate the rest of his friend, Charlie retraces his steps and comes to the realization that corpses have been accumulating at nearly the rate of the snow fall. Fearing for his life, he embarks on a spree of double-dealing and betrayal. At this point our greatest riddle is to discover what Charlie has done to warrant such an intrusion into his life. Once this is established the novel winds down rapidly but a twist occurs in the final chapter when Charlie offers a rare glimpse of his compassionate side. Phillips's novel is not for the faint-hearted but its grittiness is offset by charges of black humor that will appeal to aficionados of Charles Willeford, Jim Thompson, and The Coen Brothers.

- Jeffrey L. Ouch

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