The Big Thaw

Donald Harstad

It’s thirty below zero in the heartland of Iowa. If you go outside and throw a pan of boiling water in the air it doesn’t come back down. The Mississippi River – which ironically runs through Iowa – three-quarters of a mile wide – is frozen solid (cars drive across it) and with it – the Colonel Beauregard – a floating casino. Carl Houseman comes upon Fred, a petty crook, lurking at the end of a driveway one night. There have been a few break-ins reported at the houses of the rich folk who have escaped to Florida for the winter. Fred confesses that he and his two cousins have been responsible for a few of them but now he’s worried. He dropped his cousins off at this house a few days ago so they could break in and rob it and they never came out. On entering the house Carl finds the frozen bodies of the cousins. Murdered. Poor Fred is top of everyone’s immediate suspect list but Carl thinks he’s innocent. Then he chases another shady character – who turns out to be an FBI agent. So why are the FBI on the scene? Because there’s been a tip-off that a big bank robbery is going to go down. But where? Carl’s leads finally take him to the floating casino – where his friend and partner Hester Gorse is pulling security duty. Can he save her before the big thaw?

Reviews of The Big Thaw

    • ‘Harstad’s books are terrific and really capture the atmosphere of small-town America, where the 20th-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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