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The Ice Harvest

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3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  597 ratings  ·  75 reviews
As lawyer Charlie Arglist prepares to leave Wichita, Kansas, with a suitcase full of stolen money, he revisits the scenes of his past--his angry ex-wife, ex-lovers, cops on the take, and bars filled with secrets that others will do anything to hide.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 30th 2001 by Ballantine Books (first published 1999)
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The Big Sleep by Raymond ChandlerThe Maltese Falcon by Dashiell HammettThe Long Goodbye by Raymond ChandlerFarewell, My Lovely by Raymond ChandlerThe Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
Best Noir
181st out of 478 books — 502 voters
A Midsummer Night's Dream by William ShakespeareUlysses by James JoyceMrs. Dalloway by Virginia WoolfA Christmas Carol by Charles DickensOne Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
A Single Day
68th out of 98 books — 41 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 949)
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Ed
Dec 31, 2011 Ed rated it 5 of 5 stars
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.
Tfitoby
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...more
knig
Mar 28, 2012 knig rated it 2 of 5 stars
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
Sarah
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!
J
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
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...more
Johnny
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...more
Sidney
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...more
Kevin Helmick
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...more
Steve
as near perfect a book of its kind as you have any right to expect
Lindsay Stares
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...more
Cynthia
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.
Hernán M.
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...more
Bayneeta
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.
Rebekkila
Oct 05, 2012 Rebekkila marked it as to-read
I registered a book at BookCrossing.com!
http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/11446736
Mary
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.
Pauline
The book was so much better than the movie.
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
Jonathan Briggs
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
Maddy
RATING: 3.5

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...more
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)...more
Sarah
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...more
Michael
I didn't like this book.

I'm trying to figure out why I like so many Elmore Leonard but not this. The Ice Harvest has a plot typical of Leonard - a bunch of bad guys are after a big bag of money. In Leonard's books there's always at least one likable character, and the most evil people get their comeuppance. I didn't really like anyone in this book.

It is difficult to imagine John Cusack playing Charlie, and even more difficult to imagine Richard Russo writing the screenplay. If this book had had...more
Michelle
I got through this book in about a week and absolutely loved it. It's a short read, about 2oo pages, but it has you hooked from start to finish. It's very fast paced. It feels like you're thrown into the middle of a story and have to quickly piece the puzzle together as you go along, but that's part of why the book is so good. It’s bleak and violent and scummy, and very noir. I thought the ending was a perfect round of f to the tale, and was disappointed to hear the movie has a different ending....more
Rob Kitchin
The Ice Harvest is noir writ large as Charlie Arglist wanders round Wichita in nostalgic mood for a life and place he has little fondness for. Reluctant to leave, Arglist can’t help finding excuses to delay, becoming ever more drawn into a complex web of double crosses. As the night wears on, it becomes a case of whether he’ll get out town at all, let alone with the money. The Ice Harvest is an entertaining read, threaded through with dark humour. The plotting is nicely worked, though there’s on...more
M
Charlie Arglist is a respected lawyer, trying to kill off a few hours on Christmas Eve before blowing town for good. As part owner of a few businesses of a sexual nature - and having run up a profitable under-the-table drug ring - Charlie and his partner Vic have cleaned out their stashes are are ready to fly. However, Charlie's bosses may be onto him, Vic might be looking to backstab him, and the sexy strip club girl is playing all sides against the middle. Billed as dark comedy, the book floun...more
Alb
Extremely entertaining as an audio book. The night structure and decent writing kept me engage and I will admit I sat in the garage for a second or two longer on a couple occasions to find out how Charlie would get out of one jamb or another. The ending is ridiculous and fairly well forecasted but fits in with rest of the story. If you have a long drive over the holidays, and need something to help the miles go by faster I recommend this harmless, entertaining romp into small town, small time mo...more
Jmrathbone
The Ice Harvest is a very short novel, and about halfway through I asked my husband (who had already read it) if there was more to it than Christmas Eve drunks, strip joints, and sex. He advised me to keep reading, and I am glad I did. The last part of the book was much more interesting. I thought I had the ending figured out, but I didn’t. No one can imagine this ending except the talented author, Scott Phillips, who wrote the story. I will read the sequel.
Michele
So, I had no idea what I was getting into when I started this book. It was my first experience in the Noir genre and I enjoyed it. The story was told in a spare and fast paced sequence. Interesting characters come and go, personalities revealed but still cloaked in their motives and interests. It was an exciting book with an unexpected ending. I am glad I read it, but I don't think I would re-read this one.
Patrick O'Neil
It's the down and out, and things just got worse. It's the double cross, and then a trifecta of crosses that'd rival a crucifixion. It's going from sleaze to an even deeper form of debauchery that doesn't even have a name. Hell, Scott Phillips' The Ice Harvest is all of the above and more. Middle America's small town values never looked so dark, and sadly so real – a fast paced read into hell.
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