Ice Fire (Jock Boucher Series #1)

Ice Fire (Jock Boucher Series #1)

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by David Lyons

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Perfect for fans of Greg Iles, Ice Fire is the first in a new series starring Jack Boucher—a renegade federal judge who takes justice into his own hands. Jock Boucher, Cajun born and raised on the Louisiana bayou, has overcome modest beginnings to assume one of the most powerful positions in the land: U.S. District Judge of the Eastern


Perfect for fans of Greg Iles, Ice Fire is the first in a new series starring Jack Boucher—a renegade federal judge who takes justice into his own hands. Jock Boucher, Cajun born and raised on the Louisiana bayou, has overcome modest beginnings to assume one of the most powerful positions in the land: U.S. District Judge of the Eastern District of Louisiana.

One of his first cases on the bench involves Bob Palmetto, a scientist just apprehended, who has been hiding from authorities for twenty years. The fugitive claims that another judge accepted bribes and helped an energy company steal his intellectual property: a way to use energy from below the subsea bed that could end our dependence on oil. Palmetto fears that the company’s greed and carelessness could cause an ecological disaster.

Boucher verifies the corruption claims and, with the help of Detective Fitch of the New Orleans Police Department, seeks justice against the company and its powerful founder John Perry. Following a trail of cryptic clues from one end of the city to the other, Boucher is pushed to the limits only to find himself in the line of fire—and too far from the law to ever return.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Grisham fans will enjoy at least the opening of Lyons’s debut thriller, the first in a series featuring Jock Boucher, a newly appointed federal judge in post-Katrina New Orleans. When a heart attack fells a colleague, Judge Epson, Boucher takes on Epson’s duties on a temporary basis. By chance, that coverage coincides with the return-on-warrant of scientist Bob Palmetto. Shortly before Palmetto vanished 20 years earlier, Epson had held Palmetto in contempt after he refused to disclose confidential documents that detailed his discovery of a way to meet the country’s energy needs by “withdrawing methane gas from the frozen subsea surface.” Palmetto tells Boucher he believed that Epson had been bribed by a huge company that filed a bogus lawsuit solely to get access to Palmetto’s research. Boucher soon finds himself in the midst of a murderous conspiracy that threatens his nascent career on the bench. Some improbable developments, especially in the closing section, undermine the realism of the book’s earlier chapters. (May)
Graham Brown
“From David Lyons comes Ice Fire, a novel with almost clairvoyant timing, a fascinating plot and complex characters. It hits with style and power like the judge's hammer coming down at the end of a case.”
Jim DeFelice
“David Lyons brings a fresh eye and sure hand to the thriller genre with his debut novel, Ice Fire. Mixing science, corruption, and good ol'-fashioned murder into his plot, Lyons casts a colorful Cajun federal judge as a likable, unconventional hero in a story with environmental and political overtones. A nice bit of local Bayou color completes this promising debut. Look for more from Lyons—and hopefully his action-oriented justice, Jock Boucher—in the future.”
Phillip Margolin
Ice Fire is a fun, fast read. United States District Judge Jock Boucher is an unusual action hero, the plot about deep sea mining is original and the post Katrina, New Orleans setting is exotic. I look forward to reading Jock Boucher's next adventure.”
Suspense Magazine
“There’s action, budding romance, a bit of dry humor, and a plunge into New Orleans/Cajun culture. High society to Zydeco icehouse bars, Lyons covers the gambit. This should be a series worth following.”
author of Forced to Kill Andrew Peterson
“David Lyons delivers a perfect blend of technology, plot, and character in a suspenseful and rewarding story that kept me wanting more. I look forward to more stories from this exciting new talent.”
Brian Freemantle
“There's a new advocate on the John Grisham legal thriller circuit with the introduction by ex-lawyer David Lyons of Jock Boucher, an unconventional law-bending Louisiana District judge. Jock exposes murder, intellectual property theft and the corporate corruption that threatens ecological disaster.”
Mystery Scene Magazine
Ice Fire is a thriller based upon the real life issues of renewable energy, natural resource protection, and ensuring our future as a species on this planet. It’s also a stellar debut novel that paints a picture of the beauty and tragedy of New Orleans, even as it leaves the reader breathless.”
Sullivan County Democrat
“The plot centers on a substance (real) found in the Gulf, with potential to provide energy in enormous quantities. A very exciting first novel.”
The Mystery Reader
“David Lyons' excellent debut thriller set in New Orleans speaks to the real world issue of the instability of our foreign oil suppliers and the ecological dangers of offshore drilling. . . . The references to the architecture of historic New Orleans, Cajun and classic cuisine and restaurants, and Southern culture greatly enhance the story. Readers will anxiously await the return of Jock Boucher.”
Kirkus Reviews
Introducing Jock Boucher, black Cajun federal district judge, who may be young and recently appointed but isn't afraid of ruffling feathers in his hometown of New Orleans. Rejecting pointed advice from on high, he investigates corruption charges leveled against the indisposed senior judge whose cases he has taken on. Twenty years ago, says scientist Bob Palmetto, powerful Rexcon Energy bribed that judge to allow the company to steal Palmetto's designs for tapping a new source of energy, methane hydrate, from the ocean floor. Held in contempt, Palmetto became a fugitive. Finally apprehended, the haggard genius pleads his case to Boucher, who determines that his lawyer was, indeed, killed to keep him from spilling the beans to the FBI. When another lawyer connected to the case turns up dead outside Boucher's house, the Cajun goes renegade, pretending to sell secrets from Palmetto's cloud files to Rexcon. With help from Fitch, a New Orleans cop, and Dawn, a Rexcon employee whose attraction to Jock is greater than her loyalty to the company, Boucher survives threats on his life and thwarts ruthless company CEO John Perry. Much like Donna Leon's mystery novels featuring beloved Venetian detective Guido Brunetti, this book derives its appeal from the protagonist's unflappability, casual charm and devotion to his city. The case takes him up to Boston, where Palmetto is briefly held; New York, where Jock's aloof girlfriend Malika declares her independence; and the Carolina Trough, site of some tense submarine diving. Though music is surprisingly absent here, Boucher will always make time for Oysters Rockefeller at Antoine's or beignets and chicory coffee in Jackson Square. Lousy title notwithstanding, this is an auspicious beginning for a mystery series featuring one of the most agreeably easygoing heroes on this side of the Atlantic.
From the Publisher
"Grisham fans will enjoy." —Publishers Weekly

Product Details

Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Publication date:
Jock Boucher Series, #1
Product dimensions:
6.32(w) x 9.06(h) x 1.03(d)

Read an Excerpt

Ice Fire

  • JOCK BOUCHER SANG “ORANGE Colored Sky” in the shower. For a federal district judge, he could do a pretty good imitation of Nat King Cole, his father’s favorite singer. He’d done a fair share of singing, humming, even whistling over the past two weeks since his swearing-in. It had been a long year with the congressional vetting process, but now it was over. His life’s work lay ahead of him, and it was his dream job. He smiled at the recollection that his first act as a member of the federal judiciary had probably been illegal as hell. He had recorded the President calling him at home to extend his congratulations. He’d been informed of the call in advance, of course. You don’t want the leader of the free world calling and getting a busy signal or no one at home. The President had pronounced his name correctly: boo-SHAY. Most people seeing before hearing it mispronounced it butcher. The President said he knew that the judge’s nickname, Jock, was bestowed after lettering in basketball, football, and track in college. The two spoke as if they knew each other, which in many ways they did: two men whose love of country could not be challenged. Judge Boucher did not correct the President’s error. He would have loved to have told him the true origins of his name: that his father, a black Cajun from the bayous of Louisiana, had named his son Jacques. The French pronunciation sounded almost like shock, but with accents of the Deep South and demonstration of athletic ability at an early age, Jock it became and Jock it was to this day.

    The Senate confirmation process had gone smoothly; his credentials were lauded and deemed more than adequate to assume the lifetime post of federal district judge, one of the most powerful positions in the land. “Slam, bam, alakazam,” he sang. He stopped and listened. Had he ever taken a shower and not thought he’d heard the phone ringing? No, there it was. Who could be calling him at this hour of the morning? He cursed, turned off the water, and dried himself in the shower stall. He was not about to track water from the bathroom across his polished hardwood bedroom floor or his mid-nineteenth-century Oriental rugs. The phone rang and rang as he toweled himself dry. I’m a federal judge and you’d better have a damn good reason for getting me out of the shower, he felt like saying as he walked to the phone, but instead answered simply, “Judge Boucher.” He listened and his frown of annoyance became one of concern.

    “Oh, no,” he said. “When? . . . Of course. I’ll be there within the hour.”

    He dressed and went downstairs to the kitchen, made himself a cup of instant coffee, and pondered the news he’d just received. District Judge Epson had suffered a heart attack. He was expected to recover, but as the new kid on the block, Jock Boucher was being asked to take over his docket in the interim. Had anyone given a thought to the fact that his own docket was already full? No matter. It had just gotten fuller. Boucher gulped down his coffee. He would have bolted from his house, but it was one of the most historic homes in the French Quarter, filled with period antique furniture he’d spent much of his adult life collecting. From such a majestic presence, one did not bolt.

    The judge was granted admission to the underground parking lot of the Hale Boggs Federal Building without having to show his ID; he was recognized by security after only a short time on the bench. His vehicle had a lot to do with it. Of all the members of the federal judiciary of the Eastern District of Louisiana, Jock Boucher was the only one who drove a Ford F-150 pickup truck. No one knew he was also the only one who made weekly visits to neighborhoods decimated by Hurricane Katrina, where he would pick up and carry off refuse. After the oil spill, he had scoured beaches and wetlands to help with cleanup activities in any way he could, including the heartbreaking task of rescuing oil-soaked wildlife.

    On this eventful morning he took the elevator up to his floor and walked the deserted hallway to his office. His administrative assistant was already at her desk, also having received an early call. She followed him into his chambers. About as good as government offices got, his private quarters were spacious but stark: thick gray wall-to-wall carpet, a large oak desk stained dark, a ponderous suite of sofa, chairs, and tables, and built-in bookshelves, so far largely empty.

    “I’ve already spoken with Judge Epson’s office,” his assistant said. “He has a trial starting Wednesday, motion hearings today and tomorrow. Here’s your copy of his calendar. You have docket call at nine, and it’s a long one. I thought maybe we could just post a sign outside Judge Epson’s court moving his cases here, unless you know how to be in two places at one time.”

    “Give me a minute to study his calendar.” She started to leave, but he motioned her to stay. After a couple of minutes, he said, “We’ll do this. Have Judge Epson’s law clerk ask the lawyers appearing if anyone wants to reschedule. If both parties agree, have them prepare the orders for my signature. I’ll move my docket call along as fast as I can, then I’ll go to his courtroom and deal with whatever’s remaining.”

    “Yes, sir.”

    He moved his own docket along at lightning speed and was ushered to Judge Epson’s bench barely an hour late. The courtroom was empty.

    “Where’d everybody go?” he asked.

    Judge Epson’s law clerk sat beside the idle court reporter. “Sir, everybody asked to reschedule. We’ve received dozens of calls from other attorneys asking the same thing. They prefer to wait and see when Judge Epson will be back.”

    “They got something against me?”

    “It’s not that, sir.”

    “Okay. Well, I guess I’ll head back to my own territory.” He rose from the bench to leave just as two federal marshals burst through the door next to the jury box, a prisoner held tightly between them, his hands manacled. They saw the judge and looked at each other curiously.

    “Sorry, Your Honor. I thought we were in Judge Epson’s court.”

    “You are. Judge Epson is in the hospital. I’m Judge Boucher. I’ve been assigned his cases till he returns.”

    “I think we’d better wait till Judge Epson gets back,” the marshal said, and began to turn away.

    “Stop right there,” the judge ordered. “Bring that man here.”

    With obvious reluctance, the two federal marshals approached the bench, their prisoner shuffling between them. The man was as emaciated as a human being could be, with a thick gray beard hanging down his chest. He wore raggedy street clothes, not an inmate’s jumpsuit.

    “What’s this man charged with?” the judge asked.

    “Contempt, Your Honor. He was brought in this morning.”

    “Let me see the file.”

    Again the reluctance of the marshals was obvious, but one stepped forward and passed a couple of sheets of paper to the clerk, who handed them up to the judge.

    “This warrant’s twenty years old,” Judge Boucher said. “Is it still good?”

    “Well, Your Honor—”

    “What I mean is, is the underlying judgment still valid? After this length of time, if it hasn’t been revived, it’s probably unenforceable. Is the contempt civil or criminal?”

    The two marshals looked at each other.

    “You don’t have to answer that,” Judge Boucher said, reading the file. “Most judges don’t know the difference. I’m going to give this man the benefit of the doubt. Undo his handcuffs.”

    There was movement under the man’s bushy gray beard. It was a smile. Rather than hold his hand out for the cuffs to be unlocked, the prisoner dropped his arms, and the cuffs fell and clanked to the floor.

    The judge cracked a smile himself. “What’s your name, sir?”

    “Bob Palmetto, Your Honor.”

    “Have you eaten lately, Mr. Palmetto?”

    “I had something yesterday, sir.”

    “Are you hungry?”

    “I wouldn’t mind a bite.”

    “Good. Tell you what I’m going to do. One of these two gentlemen is going to my office to get on the computer and check the records to see if there are any other warrants or outstanding enforceable judgments against you. The other marshal is going to stay here while you tell me about this contempt order Judge Epson entered against you all those years ago.”

    “I’d be happy to, Your Honor.”

    “Good. Sandwich and a Coke all right? I’ll have someone bring them here.”

    “Could you make that a Diet Coke, Your Honor?”

    Disposition of the matter took about as long as it took to eat the sandwich. Palmetto had been held in contempt for failure to appear and produce documents in a case that was later dismissed on plaintiff’s motion about a year after the contempt was ordered. He stated that his business had been burned to the ground about that same time and any documents he might have had were long since destroyed, thus rendering moot any basis for contempt. The marshal returned and admitted that he could find no other judgments against him. The two marshals and court reporter were dismissed. Only the judge and the former fugitive were in the courtroom, the judge escorting the frail man to the exit.

    “Off the record,” Judge Boucher asked, “why didn’t you appear in court that day?”

    “I’d have been killed, just like my lawyer was,” Palmetto said.

    “Oh? And just who might have killed you?”

    Bob Palmetto turned and pointed his bony finger toward the now empty bench where, for the last twenty-five years until this morning, District Judge Epson had presided.

  • Meet the Author

    David Lyons was born in England, but he was raised and educated in the U.S. and abroad. After obtaining his license to practice law, David pursued advanced studies in international law and worked in Paris, France. David and his wife and live in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where he is currently at work on his next novel.

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    Ice Fire 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Kind of interesting in its own way. Not bad for a first thriller. A little short on descriptions, except furniture and the one sex scene. Just lacked building on the real reasoning behind the story line. A little choppy between story lines. Recommend if you want to read a newly published author. His work needs a little more seasoning before I would invest in another of his books. Gave it 3 stars instead of 2 to be nice. At least he tried.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I purchased the hardcover version of this book just after it was released for sale on the recommendation of a friend who reads every thriller novel that’s published, and also because I noticed that the reviews it has received were by-in-large positive and from a wide variety of sources. I will say that I absolutely loved this book and returned to my local B&N to buy several as gifts for my friends! I started it early one morning and had to force myself to stop a few hours later, resolving to finish it in the evening after the business day was over. Yes, we all must attend to our real work before reading for pleasure no matter how much we would rather indulge! It was such a smooth and enjoyable read that it was hard to stop! I love reading for escape and entertainment, and particularly enjoy humor and wit interspersed in fiction involving otherwise serious subjects like judicial corruption, energy independence and new scientific developments. I also love when facts are woven into the fictional materials, such as the realistic descriptions of the settings used in this book. This book delivers on several levels and ends in a cliff-hanger. According to the promotional information, this is the beginning of a new thriller series. I just can’t wait for more of the fast-paced adventures of the “renegade judge” Jock Boucher! The author David Lyons uses as the book’s primary location the colorful backdrop of New Orleans with its Cajun culture, historic architecture, antiques and the delectable cuisine for which the area is known. Having lived in New Orleans years ago, reading this book brought back my memories of good times spent there—it made me want to book a ticket, walk the French Quarter, the Garden District and Uptown, tasting Cajun delicacies all over again! Also, Lyons writes in a totally natural fashion, weaving everyday events and human experiences into the story—after all, who hasn’t thought he heard the telephone ring while being in the shower, whether it was actually ringing or just the sound of water flowing through pipes? Little examples such as this show the characters as human and make the events seem so real. But the delights of the settings and the writing style aside, it’s a true thriller involving murder and judicial corruption concealing the theft of intellectual property—the wonderful characters really make this book come to life, and there’s humor and romance woven into the storyline as well as action and suspense. As you read, Jock evolves into the type of hero we all love: intelligent and witty with an innate sense of justice. He’s a man’s man with strength of body, courage and a quick mind. Women see a caring man in a refined (and handsome) package. Yes, we would like to think that this guy is out there for real, protecting us all from the forces of corruption and evil! Ice Fire is definitely worth reading for those who love thrillers and seeing the bad guys get what’s coming to them! This would make a block-buster movie and will enjoy seeing the screen version of this very likeable and most agreeable hero.