City of Iceby John Farrow
From the Author
City of Ice is based upon factual material. In Montreal, Canada, over the last 4 years, we've experienced more than 90 murders and 90 bombings and 120 arsons that are all related to a war between rival biker gangs, the Hell's Angels, and the Rock Machine. Into this mix, we also have the Russian Mafia. While the situation is violent/i>/b>… See more details below
From the Author
City of Ice is based upon factual material. In Montreal, Canada, over the last 4 years, we've experienced more than 90 murders and 90 bombings and 120 arsons that are all related to a war between rival biker gangs, the Hell's Angels, and the Rock Machine. Into this mix, we also have the Russian Mafia. While the situation is violent and unpleasant, it's also furtile ground for a thriller, and City of Ice is intended as a an old-time cop novel, with a detective battling against the criminal gangs and against his own squad. The gang warfare is international in scope, with repercussions for the rest of Canada and for the U.S., as international gangs increase their influence and power. My detective is Emile Cinq-Mars, based on a real guy. A moralist, independent, meditative, ultimately he must rely upon his mind to save the few who are innocent. Hope you enjoy the read.
John Farrow, May 25, 1999, (email@example.com)
NY Times Book Review
- Random House Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.53(w) x 9.62(h) x 1.38(d)
Read an Excerpt
The St. Lawrence River flows from west to east, out of the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, connecting the industrial heartland cities of Chicago and Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Toronto, to the sea. The river is often a border between two countries, separating Canada from the United Statesthe province of Ontario from the state of New Yorkand serves the commerce of both nations. As it flows east it increasingly turns north, into the province of Quebec. Where the river bends up and begins to widen toward the Atlantic, it is joined by the waters of the Ottawa, and there divides around a city established upon an ancient volcanic island. At one time the volcano soared above the clouds. Over aeons it was worn away, rubbed down by nature's relentless chafe. Glacial debris backfilled the crater, then ice, miles high, compressed it. Time eroded the lava crust, the river carried the dust away, and all that remained of the immense volcano was the hardened, tenacious core, the crater's plug.
A faint replica of its former glory, the plug is called a mountain now. In English, Mount Royal. The city shares its name with this sweeping, imposing promontory that has steep escarpments on its south side. Mont-réal. Montreal. The mountain dominates the downtown skyline. Most of its surface is either park or cemetery. Lovers are drawn to the winding, wooded trails and the vistas, and the lonely wander there also, to be soothed and consoled. Families play on the slopes. In summer, barbecues sizzle. Tourists ride horse-drawn buggies to lookouts, for it's rare to gaze upon a city from a natural precipice, to be above skyscrapers and traffic and pedestrians and noise while standingamid trees, rock, and birdsong. They come to the top to feel the thrum of a city from a height that confers a meditative moment, a sense of wisdom, perhaps, a lofty perspective.
Below them is a French city, primarily, and English, too, home to countless nationalities, mingling on the one hand, blending languages on the streets, but also carefully guarding their separateness, one culture from the other. They enjoy a city graced by the mountain's beauty, made fortunate also by the river, the calm, powerful St. Lawrence, connecting the island to the world.
Rivers forge corridors through the surrounding territory, northeast to the ocean, west and southwest. An eastern tributary connects south to Lake Champlain, the great waterway of Vermont and New York State. A French trading post before the Mayflower landed, the first settlement had links to both the Canadian West and the lands that would become known as the American Colonies. So the city is steeped in the history of commerce. And yet, after the first post was abandoned by the French, written off as a business failure, the island became instead a center for saints and visionaries. The city was founded on the spiritual notion that, from here, all savages would be converted.
From the Prohibition era, when great whiskey fortunes were created by distilling and smuggling booze into New York for distribution throughout the States, through decades of traffic in heroin and cocaine, Montreal crime syndicates have positioned the city as a side door into New York. The border has always been an easy crossing. Nothing that guns and bribes and secret back roads can't open. The city offered a retreat from pressure imposed by the FBI. Italian gangs were connected and related to the New York Mafia syndicates a mere six-hour drive south, where they did good business, especially in narcotics. From time to time they'd call for help to battle rival French gangs at home. The tactic was learned by both sides in these warsalways work internationally, maintain brotherhood with those across borders. The associations would prove profitable, and you never knew when you might need allies to wage a war at home.
Crime became entrenched, the proceeds lucrative, the turf wars never-ending, the combatants increasingly brutal. When the Mafia began losing its power in both Montreal and New York, new gangs arose, notably the Hell's Angels. When they retreated to the Quebec countryside to rebuild after a tenacious police crackdown, another biker gang, the Rock Machine, secretly formed in their absence. That gang was cobbled together, in part, from Mafia remnants. When the Angels, reorganized and strong again, wanted back into Montreal, war ensued. Alliances were formed and tested. Russian gangsthanks to liberal immigration laws more were operating out of Montreal than in New York and Miami combinedwere asked to choose sides.
Bombs and chain saws became the weapons of choice.
Dynamite rocked peaceful neighborhoods.
On Sunday mornings, church bells pealed in every sector of the city, the bright, triumphant ringing of old, but all the savages had yet to be converted, and even among the penitents were citizens who aided and abetted, and in some cases worshiped, the criminals.
On the lower slope of the mountain in the quartier known as the student ghetto, three and a half months after the George Turner bump, Sergeant-Detective Émile Cinq-Mars was seated behind the wheel of his unmarked car along Aylmer Street, next to a hydrant. Only a few people were outside in the cold, walking briskly toward shelter. The severe temperature had shunted everyone else indoors. Apartments here were of different sizes and styles, thwacked together in an architectural mishmash. Older, elegant three-story homes rubbed up against the new and garish. Tall, skinny buildings loomed over the squat and stunted. Private residences elbowed for a little breathing space between raucous rooming houses for students. In his car, Émile Cinq-Mars shivered, and fluttered his lips with impatience. His new partner had loped off for coffee ten minutes earlier and was now overdue.
"The English," he muttered under his breath in English. "Pfffft!"
He swore aloud the moment he spotted the new man tilted into the wind carrying a cardboard tray. The young detective trudged along the sidewalk kicking up snow like a draft horse. He lumbered on, then bundled himself into the front seat and passed Cinq-Mars a styrofoam coffee cup.
"Idiot." His pronunciation fell somewhere between English and French.
"What'd I do now?" Detective Bill Mathers wanted to know.
"Put a flashing light on your head. Pop a siren in your mouth."
"They told me you were a good detective."
"Who told you that? I know I'm all right, but who told you?"
"Wear a sandwich board," Cinq-Mars taunted him. "Write on itUndercover cop on duty! Please do not disturb! Trust me, if the bad guys made themselves as obvious as the police we would not have crime."
"You don't want me bringing you coffee?"
"Bring me coffee. Don't bring me coffee in a cardboard tray with steam rising out of it like a chimney. Who sits in a car all night with the engine off when it's thirty below?" Cinq-Mars quizzed him. "Who else but us dumb cops, and guess what, Bill? The bad guys know that."
Mathers warmed his hands on the cup before he removed the lid and blew across the surface. "Know what?"
"If only cops freeze their tails off because the motor's not running, let's turn ours on. That would be less suspicious."
"You're an imbecile."
"Wouldn't that be less suspicious?"
"What're we supposed to be doing in here, kissing?"
"Also less suspicious," Mathers deadpanned.
The point was well taken. "You forget," Cinq-Mars recovered. "We're not here. We're invisible. No motor. No heat. Just steam rising from our coffee cups."
"I know what you're after. You want to crack my nuts off."
"You're a better detective than I thought to figure that out so fast."
Mathers chafed. "Suit yourself. This isn't my first initiation. Odds are it won't be my last."
"Knock on wood," Cinq-Mars advised him, which gave his junior officer pause. "It could be your last. Who's to know?"
Having no wood handy, Mathers knocked three times upon his own cranium.
"Sounds hollow to me," Cinq-Mars commented.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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