Known Dead – published May 28, 2000

1999   Doubleday/ Bantam/ 4th Estate

1999 Doubleday/ Bantam/ 4th Estate

In the American heartland, someone is killing cops.

The ambush exploded in an Iowa marijuana field. The weapons were high caliber. The pot was high grade. And the reporters said afterward: “We have two known dead….”

Deputy Sheriff Carl Houseman knew the dead all right: One was a small-time doper, the other a good cop. But Houseman doesn’t know why they died, or who cut them down in a blaze of automatic rifle fire. Now, as the Feds descend on Nation County, Houseman and his fellow cops are suddenly walking point—searching for answers amidst the violence, treachery, and evil in their own backyard….

From Publishers Weekly

Working as back-up in a routine drug bust, Nation County Deputy Sheriff Carl Houseman is first on the scene when a policeman is killed along with a man who was tending illegal marijuana plants. The guns used in the shooting are high-tech military weapons, and soon the place is swarming with federal agents.  Dealing with the realities of middle America’s militia groups and the interaction of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, Harstad has written a tightly woven police procedural even better than his first, Eleven Days (LJ 6/15/98). A natural storyteller, Harstad uses his experiences as a longtime deputy sheriff to make his novel come alive. This is a winner and should be in every fiction collection.

AJo Ann Vicarel, Cleveland Heights-University Heights P.L.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Harstad’s second novel (after the excellent Eleven Days, ), also starring Deputy Sheriff Carl Houseman of Nation County, Iowa, is as well written and challenging as its predecessor. Harstad, a former Iowa deputy sheriff, is apparently not interested in writing flashy, cutting-edge mysteries, and that’s good: his down-to-earth style and knowledge of investigative technique make his novels more realistic–and therefore more compelling–than many of his competitors’. Written (like Ed McBain’s rather more famous police procedurals) with a delightful sense of humor, and displaying a deft handling of pace and character that would make other, more well known writers jealous, this fine novel not only fulfills the promise of Harstad’s debut but instantly propels him into the top ranks of mystery writers. Sure to be much in demand.

David Pitt

From Kirkus Reviews

Hardcore procedural fans will find Carl’s second case authentically dry and realistic; none of the characters seems to have a home life or any interests that would distract them from the job of policing Nation County and fighting jurisdictional skirmishes. Others may complain that the slow-starting suspense proves that there really isn’t much to do in Iowa, even when you’re battling the forces of evil.

Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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