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The Ice Harvest (The Ice Harvest #1)

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  831 Ratings  ·  99 Reviews
Lawyer Charlie Arglist is looking to say goodbye to Wichita by revisiting the landscape of his used-up life. Yet before the sun rises, before he can leave town with a suitcase of stolen money, Charlie's ultimate scam explodes, uncovering a world full of twists that offers no mercy and allows few survivors.
Hardcover, 217 pages
Published October 31st 2000 by Ballantine Books (first published 1999)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dec 29, 2011 Ed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: comedic noir fans
A nasty, ripe little Christmas noir, THE ICE HARVEST is in the rich vein of Charles Willeford and Harry Crews. Charlie Arglist is a corrpt attorney who's embezzled a satchel of money from his employer and plans to skip town on Christmas Eve. Of course, things don't call as planned, and unravel fast. This fast-paced, short novel reminds me of the best from the Gold Medal Books imprint. Lots of dark humor and pratfalls included. Enjoy it.
Sep 22, 2012 Tfitoby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
Mostly read whilst killing time waiting for English public transport to turn up

Compared to Cain and Thompson this novel seemed to have a high pedigree of hype going for it, having recently thoroughly enjoyed the John CUsack movie adaptation there was a little added pressure when I found this in a war zone/book shop in Brighton.

Rainbow Books Brighton

Sadly this debut from Scott Phillips failed to live up to expectations. It's a solid piece of noir writing told without resorting to embellishment and extremes of plot to
Jan 06, 2012 knig rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Reading this was a purely tactical choice to begin with. As in red alert, battle stations ready tactical warfare. Which best describes the cattle run on the London Underground where it is a no holds barred, take no prisoners, survival of fittest gladiator match twice a day. When wedged in the middle of this meat vice, headlocked under Big Bertha’s eau de Baconnaise infused armpit, trussed up like a Christmas turkey and that had BETTER be only an umbrella poking my ass, reading material has to co ...more
Oct 31, 2016 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-noir
"He took a deep, frozen breath. "That about hit the fucking spot. You know when you have that one drink that takes you to the exact perfect stage of drunkenness? That was the one. I feel like God. Let's hit it."
He took one step off the icy sidewalk & into the parking lot & slipped. "Fuck Charlie, I fell."
"You hurt?"
"I'm too drunk to get hurt." He struggled to get back on his feet, slipping & falling repeatedly as Charlie stood watching. He finally managed to get up on his h
Jun 15, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a fantastically-dark wicked book. I was hooked from the beginning until the very end. I'd seen the movie many many years ago but couldn't recall much except that I enjoyed it and it had John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton in it. And it was cold out. The characters are all unsavory and nasty and I loved every single one of them. The ending was outrageous and perfect. Read this book!
May 19, 2008 J rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I like me a good down and dirty crime novel as much as I like just about any other read. No one is going to mistake Scott Phillips’ The Ice Harvest for great literature any time soon, and that’s a shame because books this enjoyable often get overlooked by the literati. This crime noir moves fast and straight out of the gate with profanity and nastiness. We meet Charlie Arglist, corrupt lawyer and sleazy club owner who spends Christmas Eve moving from strip club to crappy bar and back to another ...more
Sam Reaves
May 06, 2016 Sam Reaves rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to put your finger on just what's so great about this noir classic: is it the utter bleakness of spirit, the word-perfect evocation of middle-American anomie and alienation (not to get too scholarly about a sordid tale of vice and crime), or is it the deadpan black humor, which has us laughing out loud at appalling things? Great literary skill in the service of all of the above, anyway.
It's Christmas Eve in Wichita in 1979 and the snow is coming down as families hunker down for the hol
May 24, 2016 Aaron rated it it was amazing
Scott Phillips knows exactly how to Make Kansas Great Again! I don't know the official title of this genre but I call it Country Pulp Western Noir. He makes Kansas sound like an exciting, crime filled, drug fueled, passionate, sexy, destination full of life and adventure. In reality it is a boring, backwards, redneck, Koched out, Brownback hell with deteriorating school districts, ubiquitous strip malls full of Target Stores, Chipotle, Whole Foods and high end Chick-fil-a outlets, a uge prairie ...more
Mar 17, 2010 Johnny rated it liked it
A quick, little immorality tale. I actually appreciate that Phillips makes no effort to make any of his character's likable, but rather just shows them for who they are. Because of it, even the slightest sign of humanity has weight.

My one gripe is that although we are told that the book is set in Wichita in 1979, you wouldn't know it from reading it. For most of the story, Charlie (our hero) drives through the city and its outskirts, but it might as well be set in Anchorage for all the character
William Johnson
Brutally simple and effectively grungy/filthy/anti-sexual. I really loved this book ... from the lewd characters, to the sexiest femme fatale I have had the pleasure to imagine in my head (Oh, Renata ... I wish you were real. Wow.), to the pretty shocking twists and turns in the final quarter.

A little disappointed to hear there is a side-quel of sorts called The Walkaway. I thought the ending, which I won't spoil here, was pretty unique but remarkably consistent with the universe. Sad to see it
Mar 11, 2009 Sidney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bleak yet frequently funny noir novel in the Jim Thompson or Gold Medal school. This is the book that became the basis for the John Cusak-Billy Bob Thorntan film.

It's a brisk, readable tale that follows failed lawyer Charlie Arglist on a farewell tour of 1979 Wichita as he contemplates an escape with money skimmed from his mobster boss.

We get a look at Charlie's spartan existence, failed relationship and desolate outlook before brutal twists send his plans awry and pit him against friends an
Kevin Helmick
Jan 24, 2012 Kevin Helmick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
About as rural noir as it gets, and I love the sound of that, "rural noir". Fast. funny, dark and deliberate. The Ice Harvest delivers, in rich charasmatic characters, clever, hilarious dialouge, and a wrap up that completes the package. It's one you'll revisite again and again.

I also have the awsome good fortune of being invited by Phillips, to read from my latest release, Heartland Gothic, at Noir Bar in St Louis Feb 28th 2012. But that has nothing to do with my review. I've read the book seve
Jan 24, 2012 Cynthia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is not for everyone. It's dark, violent and disturbing. However, it is positively intriguing and horrifying in a 'can't look away from that train wreck' kind of way. The plot moves at a rather leisurely pace, quietly setting up what turns out to be a jaw dropping set of events. The story is told in a very neutral way, which gives the violence the ability to knock the wind out of the reader. The conclusion is surreal, dark humor at its best.
Aug 29, 2008 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you saw the movie, you'll know the book - except for the ending. I think the book's ending is better - darker, but better.
May have read this dark Christmas tale before; probably saw the movie. Double-crossing, sex and violence make for atypical holiday fare. Worked for me.
Oct 05, 2012 Rebekkila marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Nov 10, 2014 Lauren rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really didnt enjoy this. I didnt like the story or the characters. Maybe ill re read this some time but for now i didnt enjoy it.
Feb 10, 2014 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
as near perfect a book of its kind as you have any right to expect
The book was so much better than the movie.
Oct 31, 2016 Karl rated it it was amazing
This copy is signed by the author Scott Phillps.
Matthew Holley
This is a quick and engaging read, but nothing too spectacular. Like a meal that satisfies and fills you up but doesn't wow you. I suppose I had high expectations for this one, but I can't say it met them. Worth the read but that's as much as I can say.
Jonathan Briggs
May 02, 2012 Jonathan Briggs rated it really liked it
In a grimy Wichita bar with a nodding-off drunk and a determinedly oblivious barmaid. Where else could you possibly want to be on Christmas Eve? In a little while, sleazy lawyer Charlie Arglist will drunkenly get behind the wheel of his 1980 Lincoln Continental, "the finest car he had ever driven," and head out for the nudie bars he helps run for mobster Bill Gerard. It's Charlie's last night in Wichita, and before he hooks up with his buddy Vic to flee the city, he plans to hit all the hot spot ...more
Sparks Lowry
This would've gotten four stars if the third act hadn't made it just absolutely fucking amazing.
Imagine if Charles Willeford had written 'Fargo' and that's pretty much this novel.
Nasty, compact, and as cold as the Christmas snow.
Lindsay Stares
Mar 02, 2014 Lindsay Stares rated it really liked it
Shelves: christmas
Premise: Charlie Arglist is making the rounds on Christmas Eve, 1979: the bars he likes, the strip joint he runs and the one that he patronizes. He’s not telling anyone that he’s leaving town in the morning. Charlie’s not having a good night.

I didn’t like the movie of this as much as Erin did, but I did really enjoy the book. It’s got a bleak humor that places it firmly in the best noir tradition.

Charlie’s a lawyer, and he works in the machinery of the mob that runs much of the town, managing b
Willem van den Oever
Charlie Arglist, a crime lawyer in 1970s Kansas, tries to get out of town on Christmas Eve after stealing several million from a local bigshot he represents. But with the streets overflowing with snow, ice and lots of booze, it quickly becomes apparent Charlie has quite a few ties to cut before he can leave Wichita behind for good. It starts with strip joints and drunken ex-brothers in law who need to be taken home to their family and soon Arglist also finds cops and gangsters breathing down his ...more
Feb 08, 2013 Still rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Donald E. Westlake fans

GREAT fun!!!

Review To Follow... and it goes like this:

Entertaining dark comedy about a shady lawyer planning on leaving Wichita, Kansas within the next 12-14 hours but has a few loose ends he must tend to first.

Charlie Arglist is involved in a partnership with some very unsavory characters in operating a number of strip clubs, at least one massage parlor, and porno peep-show parlor.
He's also been moving quite a bit of illegal substances like cocaine through these various enterprises.

Episodic, hi
May 24, 2010 Maddy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2001-reads

There’s nothing more enjoyable than a nice little noir tale. And what could be darker than hanging out with the sleazoids of Wichita, Kansas, on Christmas Eve? Just the concept of being at strip clubs and down-and-out bars while everyone else is caroling and roasting chestnuts on an open fire is enough to make me rub my hands with glee. Joy to the world. Or so I thought until I got halfway into this book.

Charlie Arglist, lawyer to the scuzballs, has something big up his sleeve. It’s C
Abigail Hillinger
I don't think I would have liked this book a year ago. I preferred my quirky books more lighthearted and less noir. Now, I like my quirky in any form--funny, brutal, dark, sad. And this book is all of the above.

Although this book isn't without flaws (the excessive amount of characters, the somewhat disbelievable dialogue from time to time, the unanswered statement about the cops being 'one of theirs', and Charlie's extreme amount of alcohol in one night without showing many signs of being drunk)
Hernán M.
Jul 07, 2014 Hernán M. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
When AOL reported this was a mash-up between Twin Peaks and Fargo, I forgot to reconsider my expectations and that certain websites are unreliable sources with inappropriate writers.

Fool of me to believe I would enjoy an amateur pulp novel. Even if the crime set-up is entertaining and partially breathtaking, Phillips' inexperienced writing is no fun; after starting with the second part, any reader can realize that all of the plot omissions are accidents instead of writing skills. I guess nobody
Jul 15, 2010 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember seeing the movie, but remembered very little about it. I remembered it was kind of funny, in a dark humor kind of way. It really took me awhile to get into it because of the in-depth description of the strip club. But, when a book comes in at about 200 pages, it's easy to keep truckin' through it. The characters are one-dimensional and it's just a hard boiled crime novel, in all its gritty glory.

I really did love the scene with Charlie's drunk brother-in-law. The brother-in-law gets i
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