Selected as the 2008 CBC Canada Reads Winner!
"A dazzling display of fictional footwork… The author has not written just another hockey novel; he has turned hockey in a metaphor for magic." Maclean's
Percival Leary was once the King of the Ice, one of hockey's greatest heroes. Now, in the South Grouse Nursing Home, where he shares a room with Edmund "Blue" Hermann, the antagonistic and alcoholic reporter who once chronicled his career, Leary looks back on his tumultuous life and times: his days at the boys' reformatory when he burned down a house; the four mad monks who first taught him to play hockey; and the time he executed the perfect "St. Louis Whirlygig" to score the winning goal in the 1919 Stanley Cup final.
Now all but forgotten, Leary is only a legend in his own mind until a high-powered advertising agency decides to feature him in a series of ginger ale commercials. With his male nurse, his son, and the irrepressible Blue, Leary sets off for Toronto on one last adventure as he revisits the scenes of his glorious life as King of the Ice.
Quarrington is the Canadian author of the well-received Life of Hope and Home Game. His success in this entertaining fourth novel is not only creating a memorable character in Canadiens' hockey champion Patrick Leary, "King of the Ice'' for most of the first half of the 20th century, but also surrounding him with equally memorable companions. There's Clay Clinton, a likable though Machiavellian con artist-cum-hockey manager, and Leary's best friend; gormless Clifford, King's obese, amiable son, who seems to have inherited some of his father's inability to see reality; Manny Oz, King's challenger for the crown who died ignominiously and alone in a hotel room; Blue Hermann, King's roommate in the nursing home, ace reporter and alcoholic; and the hockey-playing monks of Bowmanville Reformatory, where Leary's career begins. In an odyssey that takes the King from past to present, and from Bywater to Toronto to make a ginger ale ``advert,'' the ghosts and half-truths of Leary's life are satisfyingly resolved.