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Retro Reading: Hurricane of Ice by H.L Perry


In the disaster (movie) saturated market of the mid 1970's, publishing houses were quick to jump on the bandwagon and began publishing their own novels of death and destruction with the hope of them becoming bestsellers. Most of these novels weren't sold at major bookstores.

I found my copy on a rack at the drugstore and it was the last copy plus I was intrigued by the cover art. It looked like something that would quench my thirst for disaster. Hey, I was 13 at the time.

This promises to be a novel of terror and upon reading it again nearly forty years later it is terrifying.

Set at the Tallifaro Inn in the tourist town of Traverse City, Michigan, the luxury hotel is booked solid as a variety of guests are in town to enjoy the weekend, whether it be for skiing or just relaxing. And of course they have a view of the mighty Trafalgar Bridge.

What they don't know is that their lives are in danger as a freak snowstorm is about to hit the town, with gale force winds that will not only cause death and destruction, but put the one year old bridge to the test.

After his shift, radio personality Don Murlo heads south to Detroit to spend the weekend with his girlfriend Karen and while there, he finds out that she's pregnant and he assures her that everything will be alright. However, the radio station tracks him down and he's forced to come back due to the impending storm.

He's mad on two counts. The first being that Karen's pregnant and the second that the station was able to track him down. On his five hour drive back to Traverse City, he tries to come up with a plan to dump Karen and the unborn baby.

Ruta Miller and her co-worker Alice Maclemore are looking forward to a week's vacation at the luxury hotel, but Rue has a feeling that something bad is about to happen. Her mother doesn't want her to go, fearing that she's going to meet a man and get herself in trouble, but after an argument, she tells her that she can take care of herself.

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Over at hotel owner Ed Tallifaro's house, he has an argument with his drunken wife Barbara and can't wait to get to work, since he has an important meeting and he gets to spend the day with his secretary/mistress Lois Maxwell. Of course he loves going to work to see her and to get away from Barbara.

Later in the morning when Tal Collingwood arrives in town, Ed is anxious to meet the builder since the two are going into business. Ed wants to build a luxurious ski resort and Tal will be the builder behind it.

There are other minor characters who are just around to advance the story and some of the major characters themselves tend to disappear for pages at a time and the ending isn't really that satisfying.

Since this was written in the mid-70's, the dialogue is peppered with slang and descriptions of the mod wardrobe of the era. That's the fun part.

One of the characters, Frank Kalman, an inspector, is hardly mentioned until he figures out that the bridge is starting to collapse due to shoddy materials being used by builder Sam Kinzie. This of course was a favorite trope of the disaster era.

The bridge itself connects both the Upper and Lower peninsulas of Michigan and with this being set in the mid-70's, it's hard to conceive that the bridge is a little over a year old.

Also, the bridge can be seen in Traverse City, but in actuality, the town is a little over one hundred miles away from the real Mackinaw Bridge. But, it is fiction, so I guess anything can happen.

Even a paranormal storm which doesn't appear on any radar or weather reports.

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