ASSOCIATES (vol. 6, no. 1, July 1999) - associates.ucr.edu
New York: Bantam Books
A review by
Wahlert Memorial Library
Eleven days sounds like a pretty simple time frame. Lots of things can be accomplished with little effort during that amount of time unless, you’re talking about murder. Donald Harstad’s first novel involves so much suspense and intrigue that it is very difficult to put his book down.
Think of a small northeast Iowa county filled with rural upstanding citizens and then suddenly one night, the phone rings. "They need the sheriff at Francis Maquire’s house, " cries a frantic voice, "someone’s being murdered." Startled by this most unusual call, Sheriff Harstad quickly gets in his car and speeds to the farm home. All the time he is driving, he is telling himself it’s a prank call, but the voice of the caller was haunting him. So much desperation and fear cannot be faked. Slowly he approaches the lane of the home.
Quiet, very quiet, he thought. What he finds inside is only the beginning of an incredible series of events. Maquire’s body lay in the middle of the kitchen floor with one hand missing; his dog whining and wounded lie next to him. All the elements that you would not expect to find in rural Iowa. Down the road, more murders are soon discovered and suspicion falls upon a local minister. The community is watching each other like hawks. Gossip and rumors increase the fear, and the surprises along the way will hold your interest.
Donald Harstad has many years of experience to draw upon. He manages to involve the reader from page one as most of us can relate to a small town police force. Using his very low-tech operation, they don’t even have a fax machine, he finally brings an end to a very mysterious eleven days.
I found this book to be quick reading and suspenseful. It reminds us that all types of strange things can happen anywhere, anytime. Enjoy!