Cover image for On ice
On ice
Ramus, David.
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Publication Information:
New York : Pocket Books, [2000]

Physical Description:
321 pages ; 25 cm
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Praised by writers and reviewers alike for his riveting thrillers, David Ramus now takes readers into the rarefied world of superrich Southern horse breeders. With an eye for gritty detail and a thunderous narrative pace, Ramus tells the story of Ben Hemmings, a much sought-after stable-builder who is wrongly convicted of a heinous crime and sentenced to a decade in federal prison. A stunning work of intricate plotting and pulse-pounding suspense, On Ice finds Ramus at the very top of his storytelling powers.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The hero of Ramus' third thriller inhabits three worlds: Ben Hemmings is a devoted family man and builder of barns in Georgia, a sometime participant in the high-stakes horse scene through his stable-building know-how, and, after he's been set up in a money-laundering scheme, a federal prison inmate. Ramus ratchets up the tension of this extended, paranoid nightmare by having the FBI offer Hemmings (who narrates the tale in a convincing, regular-guy voice) a chance to get out of jail free. This involves retrieving a stolen supply of incalculably valuable genetic material (in the form of frozen horse semen) and returning it to the rightful breeder, placing Hemmings and his family between a dangerously bent FBI agent and a sadistic career criminal. The somewhat formulaic plot is redeemed by Hemmings' bewilderment at his plight and wry observations on the inmates of prison and high society. --Connie Fletcher

Publisher's Weekly Review

The best moments in Ramus's third thriller are the scenes of prison life--not surprising, since the author is a former art dealer who did some hard time before writing his well-received Thief of Light and The Gravity of Shadows. His latest isn't as original as those art-flavored crime capers, involving instead a complicated and implausible scheme to steal and hold for ransom expensive samples of frozen sperm from top racehorses. Ben Hemmings, a builder of barns and stables for some of Atlanta's top horse breeders, gets into trouble when the Feds decide to turn his less -than scrupulous bookkeeping and his boyhood friendship with a gambler into a money-laundering charge in order to squeeze Hemmings into ratting out his old buddy. But Ben won't bend and gets a three-year-sentence from an unsympathetic judge. In the minimum-security Alabama prison, he's lucky to share a cell with a wise and relatively compassionate drug dealer called Black, who teaches him the art of survival. Rougher lessons are supplied by Rollie Shore, an elderly Jewish mobster who rules the prison. Offered a chance to get out of jail after 18 months by a devious FBI agent with a private agenda, Hemmings risks not only his own life but the safety of his increasingly desperate wife and their two young daughters in a wild scheme to go up against Shore--also soon freed from prison--and find the missing horse sperm. Readers might not buy into Ramus's tangled plot, but they should be moved by the chilling truths of his prison scenes. When Hemmings talks about daily life behind bars, surrounded by drug dealers and "a mix of losers and sociopaths who'd done everything from robbing banks to peddling stolen military hardware," his voice crackles with authenticity. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Ramus (Thief of Light; The Gravity of Shadows) has very quickly carved a niche for himself in the crime-fiction genre. On Ice, his third novel, will certainly confirm his status as a writer of rough-and-tumble adventure and establish his place alongside such greats as Donald Westlake and Elmore Leonard. Ben Hemmings, a specialty carpenter for Atlanta's rich and famous, takes a fall for one of his clients and is sent to prison for three years on a money-laundering charge. Midway through his sentence, he is released on the condition that he serve as informant for the FBI in a case involving the theft of irreplaceable samples from a University of Georgia horse-breeding research laboratory. Unaware of the full danger of the assignment until he is too involved to decline it, Hemmings finds himself a pawn between a ruthless FBI agent and Atlanta's version of a Mafia boss, with his wife and children serving as collateral to insure his cooperation. Although the plot is contrived in spots, On Ice is a tense and compelling action tale that will easily appeal to the reader of action fantasy. Recommended for all public libraries.--Thomas L. Kilpatrick, Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.