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The Big Thaw [Paperback]

Donald Harstad
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
RRP: 11.99
Price: 8.60 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

1 July 2008
What initally looks like a small time midwinter break-in, leads to something much bigger - a million dollar siege of a floating casino on the frozen Mississippi River. But the temperature is rising and the heat is on Deputy Sheriff Carl Houseman... Following hard on the heels of the bestselling ?Eleven Days' and ?The Known Dead', Donald Harstad really hits his stride with ?The Big Thaw', an irresistible big thriller with a Fargo-like atmosphere.The dead of winter has hit the heartland. It's thirty below zero and all anyone has to look forward to in Nation County, Iowa is an evening's entertainment aboard a floating casino docked a short drive away on the Mississippi River. With his friend and partner Hester Gorse pulling security duty on the Beauregard, it's left to Deputy Sheriff Carl Houseman to keep Nation County criminals in check. In Carl's experience, though, crime takes a holiday when the mercury falls. But the men lying low at a nearby compound have much bigger plans. They're waiting for a break in the weather to pull off a masterful million-dollar siege of the state's biggest economic asset. While desperately trying to maintain his control of the investigation, Carl has to plan for disaster relief, lobby the FBI for a team of SWAT sharpshooters, hold the media at bay, and save Hester's life before the temperature rises for the big thaw?

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (1 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007291655
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007291656
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.6 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,463,842 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

The temperature is falling in Nationa County, Iowa--it should be a quiet time of year for Deputy Sheriff Carl Houseman and his partner, General Criminal Agent Hester Gorse. With two key duties to divvy up, Gorse opts for security duty on the popular floating casino The Beauregard, leaving Houseman responsible for the rest of the county, not that taxing for either of them at first glance. However, a car chase down snow-locked backcountry roads is only the start of things for Deputy Sheriff Carl Houseman. Petty crook Freddie has been driving for his burglar cousins the Colsons and is worried when they fail to come back to the car. The Sheriff finds them shot dead and stacked in the yard of the Borglan farm. Borglan himself is in Florida, but the signs are not good, there is right-wing literature on his bookshelves and someone has been using his computer. Something big is going down, some hardened criminals have set their sights on The Beauregard. Houseman is compelled to involve the FBI but fights hard to maintain his dignity, his integrity and control of his operation. This is a book with an admirable sense of place and season, which is brilliant on what happens to the time-word procedures of police work when an average cop finds himself up against someone who plays by very different rules. Written by a man who spent 26 years as the deputy sheriff in north eastern Iowa the plot could not fail to ring true. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


‘Harstad’s books are terrific and really capture the atmosphere of small-town America, where the twentieth century almost seems to have slipped by unnoticed.’ Independent on Sunday

‘Harstad’s first-hand experience ensures his storytelling always rings true.’ Arena

‘The Big Thaw, set in the dead of winter in a Fargo-like mid-west, is American procedural writing at its best.’ Guardian

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow 13 Aug 2001
By A Customer
Wow, another cracker from Donald Harstad. Following Carl Houseman through yet another crime packed novel, this time with the help of the FBI et al. Although the book has it's nasty parts, there is much humour through the book and the way in which Carl talks you through mystery double murder makes this book a classic, I can't wait for his next novel!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cold Crime Story 26 May 2003
It's cold in Iowa, and you may want to wear a pair of warm gloves while reading this Carl Houseman novel in order to avoid frostbite. You can almost feel the blanket of snow covering the roads and smell the coffee brewing back at the station as Maitland's favorite Deputy Sheriff returns for a third entry in Donald Harstad's fine series.
A break-in at a rural Iowa farm where no one is home will leave two burglers dead, murdered execution style, and Houseman with only one suspect, who he believes is innocent. Only when the vague Special Agent Volont from Harstad's previous entry, Known Dead, arrives does Houseman discover the one man army named Gabriel has returned to Nation County.
DCI Agent Hester Gorse returns, as does Carl's boss Lamar, capable dispatcher, Sally, FBI Agent George, and reporter Nancy Mitchell, who looks to be a very interesting addition to this very enjoyable series. The rural atmosphere and Houseman's self-deprecating humor during tense situations are the trademark of Harstad's novels.
A moonlight chase on snowmobiles, an autopsy viewed by Houseman, Nancy and her photographer Shamrock, and the simultanious robbery of a bank and a gambling ship will all lead right back to the snow covered farmhouse where this all began, and a final confrontation with the always dangerous Gabriel.
This is a cold one, but a good one. Wearing long johns is optional, but highly recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars exciting, amusing, harsted did it again 9 Mar 2002
By T
fast moving,amusing, scary in parts, carl houseman makes a great hero who usally gets his man with hinderence from the FBI.Could not put it down.
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