Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Big Thaw” as Want to Read:
The Big Thaw
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Big Thaw (Carl Houseman #3)

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  227 ratings  ·  23 reviews
A killer is placing his cross hairs over the American heartland....

The pair of frozen corpses were found under a tarp in the machine shed of an empty farmhouse. Two males -- brothers -- both killed by bullets from a Russian automatic fired at close range. The cops have a suspect: a man Deputy Sheriff Carl Houseman busted five years earlier and the county's lead suspect in
Paperback, 416 pages
Published May 1st 2001 by Bantam (first published August 15th 2000)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Big Thaw, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Big Thaw

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 387)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Lukasz Pruski
Donald Harstad is the author of two very good police procedurals, "Known Dead" and "Eleven Days" (I have reviewed these 4-star novels on Goodreads) . He is also the author of lame and silly "Code 61", with a plot that includes references to vampires. A 26-year-veteran of Sheriff's Department in an Iowa County, he is at his best when he writes about the actual procedure when the sheriff's deputies are working on solving a case. I was hoping "The Big Thaw" will be more like the first two books rat ...more
Bobby Underwood
It's cold in Iowa, and you may want to wear a pair of warm gloves while reading Harstad's wintery 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 burglars dead, murdered execution style, and Houseman with a suspect he believes
Carl Houseman, a deputy sheriff in Nation County, Iowa keeps watching the Weather Channel as the worm-like jet stream moves gradually north bringing the promise of a January thaw. In the meantime, he and his colleagues, not to mention the FBI and Iowa DCI, have their hands full trying to solve the murders of two burglars on a remote farm. There is the usual turf war between the various departments.

The FBI is reluctant to release information to their “hick” fellow officers (there is a very funny
I liked the overall plot of this book, found it to be a fast read, enjoyed the characters, and it held my interest. It is kind of a rough read in spots because the writing - especially dialogue - doesn't quite hang together all the time. I had to do a fair amount of rereading to figure out who was saying what at times. I was also quite surprised to find a lot of typos, as this is not a self-published book and is, in fact, put out by a major publisher (Bantam). Of course this can be easily overco ...more
Iowa City Public Library
Frigid days like today make me think of Donald Harstad’s mystery novels set in Northeast Iowa. If you haven’t read Harstad and enjoy mysteries, he’s worth a try. Harstad, from Elkader, was a deputy sheriff in Clayton County for 26 years before retiring to write full-time. Harstad didn’t plan to become a writer, but a bit of serendipity and excess vacation time changed his life. I’ve heard Harstad tell this story a number of times, and it’s one of my favorite author stories. One day Harstad was c ...more
Jul 10, 2009 Michael rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of police procedurals, readers, fans who enjoyed the movie "Fargo"
Recommended to Michael by: Enjoy the author
Dpty. Sheriff Carl Houseman is called out on a freezing night in Iowa. Two home burgulers are found dead in the home of Cletus Borglan.

Borglan is a wealthy farmer and believer that the govt. is interfering with the average man's rights.

The investigation slows down but one Housesman's fellow officers spots a snowmobile with sound suppressors and a driver with night goggles. When stopped the driver tries to fight with Houseman and the other officer but he's subdued. They find that he is a FBI agen
Don't believe the descriptive blurb on goodreads. If you liked "Fargo", you may not like, and may in fact hate this novel. Like "Fargo" it's about crime in upper Midwest, but it has none of the wit and satirical bite of the movie. The narrator, a small-town Iowa cop, is likable, but he ain't no Margie. The criminal he's chasing is a master, a would-be terrorist. (Ya sure, dat's real likely to happen in Hicksville, Iowa.) The other characters are pretty much flat, predictable types, the silliest ...more
Rachel Groves
I really enjoyed the writing but hadn't realised that this is the 3rd book in a series when I started it. A lot of series you can start anywhere and go back to read earlier books - but this particular story not only referred to previous happenings a lot but also gave me spoilers about what to expect (who was hurt or killed, who the bad guy was). That took some of the enjoyment out of it for me and got a little repetitive too. I can't say what my rating would have been had I read them in order bu ...more
It was fun to read a book by a local author, but this one wasn't exactly top notch. It was an interesting story to start, but the story became more and more unbelievable it progressed.

What I noticed most about this book was the strong masculine feel to it. THere was very little character development that had to do with emotions - lots of procedural stuff, as someone in my book club describe it. The big indicator to me on how masculine the book was... a two page spread on details of a 22 caliber
Amy (amyb2332)
I liked this book better than the first book but the disjointed writing still pulls me out of the story more often than I'd like. But this is a good enough series by an Iowan author so I will read the rest of the books.
The Big Thaw - G+
Harstaad, Donald - 3rd in series
Deputy Sheriff Carl Houseman and his incisive partner, General Criminal Agent Hester Gorse, discovery two frozen burglars in a machine shed on a farm leads Houseman and Gorse to an elaborate plot against a Mississippi riverboat casino. Houseman deadpans his way through the vagaries of a case that depends upon his outfoxing a mix of forensics specialists, attorneys, politicians, and even the FBI Snowmobile Detail.

A solid, enjoyable police procedura
super informative, easy to read, engaging account of 'the big thaw' that's happening in the Arctic. Draws from personal anecdotes and the actual research of scientists and the author. Catalyzed me into a feeling that i should do something (not sure what I can do to help the polar bears). I'd highly recommend it so someone hoping to learn more about the issue, but not wanting/able to read the actual scientific articles.
This was a very good crime/police novel and should have been since it was written by a former sheriff who truly knows his stuff... there's humor, there's suspense and danger... it started out slow but then again he's a new author to me and I find with new authors there's a honeymoon period with me where I have to get used to their style... but it was a good story, I enjoyed it.
I love police procedural set in areas beyond LA and NYC. This one, set in Iowa, is a strong book and series. Carl Houseman is a great character and you really get the sense of being there in Iowa with Carl chasing down clues, visiting with cops, and finally crawling into bed after seemingly endless days. Would recommend to anyone loving cop series.
John Onoda
Another top notch police procedural set in rural Iowa. This time there's a strong "heist caper" element to the strong, a bad guy who could give Bruce Willis a hard time, and lots of inter-agency conflict between the locals and the feds. Whoopee!!
Not quite as good as the previous two books in the series. While I did like the rural Iowa setting and very realistic police procedural aspects in this book the plot was just a bit too out there for me.
great small Iowa town crime story, read some of his other books a long time ago...all good!
Laurie Stoll
A good suspense. A book that you want to keep turning the page to see what happens next.
Mary Sue
Jul 25, 2007 Mary Sue rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: mystery lovers
An Iowa author and setting. I recognize those cold winter settings and characters.
a neat procedural thriller - ideal holiday reading.
Jul 19, 2012 Nancy added it
I think that I've found a new author!
Paul Varner
Good Police suspense story
Jim added it
Feb 22, 2015
Matthew Wilke
Matthew Wilke marked it as to-read
Feb 14, 2015
Katherine marked it as to-read
Jan 28, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 12 13 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Cat Cross Their Graves (Joe Grey #10)
  • How to Moon a Cat (The Cats and Curios Mystery Series, #3)
  • Chasers
  • Harm None (A Rowan Gant Investigation #1)
  • Scott Free
  • Race for the Dying: A Dr. Thomas Parks Mystery
  • Mahu Fire (Mahu #3)
  • Cat in a Flamingo Fedora (Midnight Louie, #7)
  • Fiddlers (87th Precinct #55)
  • The Big Kitty (Sunny & Shadow Mystery, #1)
  • The Lineup: The World's Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives
Donald Harstad is a twenty-six-year veteran of the Clayton County Sheriff's Department in northeastern Iowa, and the author of the acclaimed novels Eleven Days and Known Dead. A former deputy sheriff, Harstad lives with his wife, Mary, in Elkader, Iowa. (From Random House website.)
More about Donald Harstad...

Other Books in the Series

Carl Houseman (5 books)
  • Eleven Days
  • Known Dead
  • Code 61
  • A Long December
Eleven Days Known Dead Code 61 A Long December November Rain

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »