Tortured, then murdered, a university student dressed up as Santa Claus is left hanging from a meat hook on Christmas Eve - a gift intended for one particular cop. Detective Emile Cinq-Mars, local hero and old-style cop, wants the truth - and his gripping search takes him through a bone-chilling Montreal winter and into the heart of the city's colourful criminal underworld, where rival biker gangs, the Russian Mafia, and meddlers from the CIA all vie for a piece of the frozen city.
©1999 John Farrow (P)2015 Steve Scherf Audiobooks
"Rich descriptions of Montreal in winter...blend well with the bone-chilling plot." (The New York Times)
"Rarrow's orchestration of the plot is masterful.... Like the best of thrill writers, Farrow makes us believe his spooky story could be true." (The Globe and Mail)
"...in terms of popular genre fiction. ([his] might be the best book ever produced in Canada." (The Vancouver Sun)
First a disclaimer: I lived in the Montreal area for years, and listening to Steve Scherf read John Farrow’s “City of Ice” brings back a lot of memories. Eating at Ben’s, trying to navigate the streets near McGill in the winter (or sometimes even the summer) brings back many fond memories.
And another disclaimer: Jon Farrow has been one of my favorite authors with his “City” series, and Steve Scherf is my favorite audio-book narrator.
This is Farrow’s (pseudonym for Canadian author Trevor Ferguson) first book in his series featuring g Montreal Detective Émile Cinq-Mars, a detective in the Montreal Urban Community Police Department. The book revolves around the biker wars that occurred in the 1980’s and the line the Police straddled between letting the bikers eliminate themselves and keeping order. The catalyst is the murder of a young child, caught in the wrong place when a car bomb exploded during the biker war, an event that did happen.
Cinq-Mars, literally translated as “March the Fifth” is an honest cop in a corrupt police department, whose survival in the police force is by the sheer volume of high profile, very public, arrests he makes. His partner, the man he is mentoring, is a young Anglophone who loves Montreal as much, perhaps more, than Cinq-Mars, and together they form a team that stands out in the Montreal police. Their relationship is one that is familiar to many Francophone and Anglophones who worked together in Montreal, outwardly joking about their respective cultures, but for the most part, just working together. This is a good representation of Canadian diversity and culture at its best.
The book itself starts a bit slow, then builds to the point where I was regretting that this was an audio book; I actually found myself sitting in my driveway listening to it until my wife eventually came to find out why I wasn’t going inside.
The narration was what I expected from Scherf. The pace was good and the voices as fantastic as always.
If you like police procedurals or thrillers, if you like books based on real events, if you want some insight into the “Two Solitudes” of Quebec or the multicultural aspects of a cosmopolitan city like Montreal, then this is a fantastic book. If you want to hear a first class audio book, then this is a must.
I found the story very engaging. The ethical tightropes of law enforcement in a very complex world of power and control on many levels is well told.
I enjoyed the varying accents and inflections delivered by the narrator which brought more body to the characters.
Not a very "professional" heading for a book review, but that's exactly how I felt about it. I am a voracious reader and rarely cannot finish a book, even if I'm not enjoying it. This one proves the exception to the rule. I couldn't finish it no matter how hard I tried. If it wasn't past the time frame, I would have returned it.
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