Review of ‘Freeze Out a Phil Allman Novel’ by Brett Wallach (April 2017):
Brett Wallach’s Freeze Out is the fourth book in the Phil Allman mystery series. I must confess to not having read the first three books. However, thanks to Wallach’s skillful writing I had no trouble following the story. Phil Allman is a middle-aged, twice divorced, ex-cop who ekes out a living as a private investigator. His typical cases involve tracking cheating spouses through the rough and tumble side of Philadelphia. Not surprisingly, Phil has a rather cynical take on the world and his place in it. The one exception to his hard-nosed views is his love of classic rock & roll. He especially loves the working-class anthems of his teenage hero Felix Brigati.
Told in a first-person narrative style Freeze Out recalls the early grittier novels of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series. The tale begins with Allman holding Brigati hostage in a remote Pennsylvania cabin. Brigati, who’s a stand-in for Wallach’s own favorite Bruce Springsteen, amiably discusses the roots of rock & roll with his captor. The conversation kindles something in Allman. He resolves to earn Brigati’s trust by solving the star’s problem with a troubling stalker. Unfortunately Brigati disappears. To save his hero and his own skin, Allman must find Brigati before the police do. To do so he enters the seedier side of the music business. Unraveling the mystery requires Allman to navigate a labyrinth of greed, jealousy, infidelity, and murder. Wallach adds to the story by filling the narrative and dialog with clever references to classic rock bands and lyrics.
While nothing in Freeze Out will not shock teens, the book is aimed at adults. True to the setting Wallach peppers the dialog with spicy language, primarily f-bombs and sexual references. It contains violence and sex, but the skilled Wallach treats both judiciously. He describes each just enough to ignite the reader’s imagination. There’s no illicit drug use. The scenes with drinking are well within social norms. The book includes a suicide and some internal dialog about killing yourself. In all cases Wallach tastefully handles the subject matter within the scope of the story. As a Hollywood movie Freeze Out would earn an R rating. I highly recommend this well told tale to anyone who enjoys PI novels or has an interest in classic rock & roll.
Amazon Link for Freeze Out. Note I receive a small commission if you purchase this book using this link.
**In the interest of full disclosure, I received a free copy of this book **