Monday, March 17, 2014

Hard Freeze by Dan Simmons

I feel almost like I'm detecting a formula here - Put Joe Kurtz up against at least two or three people or groups of people who want to kill him, and revel in the ensuing chaos. Things haven't settled down all that much since we last saw Joe, but he and his secretary, Arlene, are running a very successful internet business that finds high school sweethearts, and Arlene would like to expand into online wedding planning. Since their office building is being torn down by the city, she wants Joe to take some time to hunt up a new space for their business, and for him to find $35K to get things up and running.

In the meantime, Little Skag has decided to have Joe killed, and set some stupid and predictable killers on his trail, a trio known in Attica as The Three Stooges. Joe's number one informant, the homeless professor known as Pruno, sets Joe up to meet with John Frears, a man who is trying to find the former colleague of his, presumed dead, who tortured, raped and killed his teenaged daughter, and whom he recently saw alive and well in a nearby airport. The deceased Don Farino's daughter, Angelina, recently returned from Italy, wants to use Kurtz to help her eliminate a rival crime family from the picture. Kurtz also has some issues with Donnie, the man who got custody of his daughter, Rachel, after her mother was murdered and he went to prison for twelve years for the revenge killings of the perpetrators. Not to be forgotten, a corrupt cop named Brubaker has decided that Kurtz was responsible for the death of his former partner, also a corrupt cop, and is out for his own pound of flesh.

So, things get very complicated, very quickly, and it takes a lot of violence on Joe's part before he can keep his appointment with Arlene to go office hunting. Kurtz' unique combination of the direct approach and the subtle scheme make this an interesting and worthy sequel to Hard Case.

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