Big Thaw

ISBN 13: 9780007291656

Big Thaw

3.93 avg rating
( 469 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780007291656: Big Thaw

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...It is 30 below zero in the heartland of Iowa. the Mississippi river is frozen solid and with it, the Colonel Beauregard - a floating casino. Carl Houseman comes upon Fred, a petty crook, one night. A few break-ins have been reported and Fred confesses that he's involved. But now he's worried: he dropped his cousins off to rob the house a few days ago and they never came out ...There are few clues to reveal what happened but Carl realises more than murder is at stake. Soon he and his partner Hester Gorse are fighting for their lives as a million-dollar seige of the casino is threatened.

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Review:

Don't let the title of this dry suspense novel fool you. It's very cold in January in Iowa, the setting for Donald Harstad's third outing in his series featuring Deputy Sheriff Carl Houseman and his partner Hester Gorse. The only thing mild is the humor in this spare procedural, which involves the usual turf battle between the white hats (local law enforcement) and the black hats (the FBI) as a sidebar to the main plot. Instead of the mean streets and criminal underclass of urban thrillers, we get the militant extremists who frequent the vast, empty reaches of the Midwest. In this case, the black hats are onto the crazies, and the local good guy, Deputy Carl, is caught in the crossfire. The crazies want enough money to blow the heartland (who wouldn't, in January?), and to get it, they're prepared to blow up Iowa's biggest economic asset, a riverboat casino on the Mississippi. They're being manipulated by a chief crazy (or maybe an arch crazy) named Gabriel, and (naturally) the feds have been a few steps behind Gabriel for a while now. Deputy Carl is a nice guy, but irony is not his strong suit, and he's not particularly fast on the uptake, either. Eventually he does save the day in this somewhat pedestrian and slow-motion regional mystery. If you liked the movie Fargo, you'll love The Big Thaw. --Jane Adams

From the Inside Flap:

On the heels of the Anthony Award--nominated Eleven Days and the critically acclaimed Known Dead, The Big Thaw is homegrown heartland thrills from Iowa's own answer to Michael Connelly.

Donald Harstad writes the way Iowans live, with no-nonsense direction, an innate sense of right and wrong, and a dry Midwestern brand of humor. In today's urban-dominated thriller landscape, Harstad is working the rural crime beat to perfection.

While battling a grueling thirty-below-zero Iowa January, Carl Houseman is baffled by a series of burglaries in the deserted backwoods farms of Nation County. The Iowa snowbirds have flown south, leaving their houses and valuables for the taking. The last thing Carl wants to do is leave the comfort of his toasty kitchen, stocked with a full pot of coffee and a plate full of low-fat donuts. But when news of a high-speed chase warbles out of his police scanner, he knows there is no one else to pick up the slack and join in the pursuit.

Little does he know that the suspected cat burglar tearing up the back roads is not running from the police.  He's running from what he found at the seemingly abandoned farm of Cletus Borglan, Maitland's answer to Bill Gates. Carl thinks he's seen it all in his twenty-odd-year career as deputy sheriff of Nation County, but this time the bad guys are uncannily intelligent. For the men lying low at the Borglan compound have much bigger plans than penny-ante robbery. They're waiting for a break in the weather to pull off a masterful siege of Nation County's biggest economic asset--the Colonel Beauregard, a floating casino on the Mississippi River.

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ISBN 10: 0007291655 ISBN 13: 9780007291656
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Donald Harstad
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