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Donald Harstad

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Donald Harstad, "a Vietnam veteran, joined the Clayton County Sheriffs Department in 1974.  During his 26 years with the sheriffs department he has been a patrol officer, investigator and the Deputy Sheriff.  Donald Harstads first novel, Eleven Hours, introduced the character of Carl Houseman, a deputy sheriff working in the Midwest.  Donald Harstad is the author of Code Sixty-One, A Long December, The Big Thaw, Eleven Days and Know Dead.

According to the book description of Code Sixty-One, "With his dead-on depictions of the rural crime beat in such critically acclaimed novels as Eleven Days, Known Dead, and The Big Thaw, Donald Harstad proved himself to be a master of the police procedural and a keen observer of the intrigues and eccentricities of the American heartland. In Code Sixty-one, Harstad furthers his talents, bringing his offbeat, Fargoesque style to a gripping tale about modern-day vampires.  Investigating the apparent suicide of a colleagues niece, Iowa Deputy Sheriff Carl Houseman uncovers a group that has transformed the dark fantasies of vampire legend into grisly reality: they ritualistically drink small amounts of one anothers blood. As Houseman and his partner, Hester Gorse, are drawn deeper into this alternate, alien world, they come to the chilling conclusion that the dead young woman may have been the victim of a twenty-first-century Dracula. Their prime suspect, Dan Peal, is a sinister and commanding presence within the group, but without proof to substantiate such a heinous theory, the trail is in danger of running cold. When their suspicions are bolstered by the report of a card-carrying vampire-hunter who is also pursuing Peal, Houseman and Gorse suddenly find themselves scrambling to track the vampire before he kills again. A spellbinding journey into the dark recesses of the modern-day heartland, Code Sixty-one unfolds with relentless speed and precision. Veteran police officer and author Donald Harstad continues to craft his work from the fabric of personal experience and insider know-how, cutting to the quick of well-imagined fiction, rattling nerves along the way."


According to the book description of A Long December, "The people of Nation County, Iowaa heartland town straight out of a Coen Brothers movie or a John Cougar Mellencamp songpractice a unique brand of American stoicism. You betcha. And they rely upon their public servants to shield them from the horrors of the outside world. Carl Houseman, deputy sheriff of the 750-square-mile county, dedicates his life to keeping his citizenry so secure that you can leave the door unlocked at home and walk his streets with a big hello and a smile to every stranger.  On Housemans watch, the mounting terrors of the new world order stay far away. But December 2001 could change all of that. Outsiders are everywhere.   The meat plant is now kosher and there are more Jewish fellows per capita than any other place in the country. Hispanic and other foreign workers, with dubious immigration papers, have taken jobs from the locals. Eighteen other languages are now spoken within the tiny region, and Carl and company cant speak a single one.  Then the eighty-odd-year-old Heinman brothers call comes in from their farm down in Frog Hollow.  Theyve witnessed an execution-style killing not one hundred yards from their pig feeders. The victims awful dead and half his heads been blown off. The boys havent seen nothing like it since Normandy. When Carl gets to the scene, he believes them. What follows is a masterful police procedural thrillerthink Joe Wambaugh crossed with Fargowritten with a singular and authentic voice that has electrified readers around the world."


According to the book description of The Big Thaw, "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 a series of recent robberies. Houseman knows they have the wrong guy. He also knows they've got something bigger than a burglary gone bad ... especially when the FBI starts showing up in Maitland. The brutal double homicide is just the tip of the iceberg in a case where a killer's trail keeps disappearing like footprints in freshly fallen snow, and where one bad break can send a good cop into a deep freeze.

According to the book description of Eleven Days, In a mesmerizing debut, cop-turned-author Donald Harstad uses real-life events to paint a jarring picture of crime in America's heartland--where two-stoplight towns no longer offer refuge from modern-day brutality. Life in Maitland, Iowa, is usually predictable, even for a cop. But all that changes the day Deputy Sheriff Carl Houseman's dispatcher receives the terrifying 911 call. The day cops find the mutilated bodies at a remote farmhouse. The first of eleven days Carl will never forget. As hotshot investigators fly in from New York, Carl and his fellow cops use old-fashioned detective work to piece together clues. But to turn suspicions into suspects, Carl must search among his closest friends to find a killer who has shocked and bewildered cops who'd thought they'd seen it all. And before it's over, Carl will be forced into an unrelenting spiral of chaos, coming face-to-face with evil he never dreamed could exist in Maitland...or anywhere else."


According to the book description of Known Dead, "Donald Harstad, a 26-year police veteran, has firsthand knowledge of small town police departments. This background enables him to create the authentic details, realistic dialogue, and suspenseful twists in Known Dead. Deputy Sheriff Carl Houseman is dozing in his cruiser near parklands in Nation County, Iowa when he hears popping sounds. Immediately, his radio screams to life with a call for assistance. What started as a simple raid on a marijuana patch has erupted into high-power gunfire. As the air clears, two men are known dead. But who was firing, and what else are they protecting? Houseman will find few heroes as he follows a convoluted trail that leads from the marijuana plants to an elusive international operator. By the time the case is closed, "known dead" has taken on a new meaning for him. Ron McLarty's dramatic narration highlights Houseman's increasingly ironic attitude toward life and his profession."


Code Sixty-One: A Novel
Donald Harstad  More Info

Known Dead: A Novel
Donald Harstad  More Info

A Long December
Donald Harstad  More Info

The Big Thaw
Donald Harstad  More Info

Eleven Days
Donald Harstad  More Info

Known Dead
Donald Harstad  More Info

About the Clayton County Sheriff’s Department:

John W. Griffith was the first sheriff of Clayton County, and was appointed on the organization of the county and continued in office by the vote of the people at its first election. Mr. Griffith was one of the first settlers of the county, and as Sheriff took its first census. He served until 1841.


In 1980 Ronald Rumph was nominated Sheriff and remained in office until 1985. At that time the Sheriff received a yearly salary of $21,000. It was a requirement for this sheriff and many before him, that they reside at the jail to maintain control of all inmates, and the upkeep or maintenance foo the premise.


In late 1985 Verdean L. Dietrich was appointed Sheriff and remained in office until 2001 when he left office. He did not have to reside in the jail but appointed a jail administrator and he and his family resided above the jail until the early 1990's. The number of deputies under Verdean numbered nine, plus Sheriff Dietrich. Their jobs ranged from serving civil papers to covering accidents and domestic fights, assaults, ect.


The Clayton County Jail was located approximately four blocks from the Clayton County Courthouse in a facility constructed in 1870. The original building is a two story stone masonry structure, which includes the sheriff's residence. The building was renovated in 1979 with the first floor of the original sheriff's residence converted into administrative spaces and the jail area extensively remodeled. A new one-story addition for administrative functions was also added to the facility in 1979.


In November of 2005 the citizens of Clayton County voted on a bond to build a new Law Enforcement Center. In the spring of 2006 a ground breaking ceremony took place and construction began. The new Law Enforcement Center (LEC) will holds 40 inmates compared to the 8 inmates the jail currently holds. An open house for the new LEC was held at the end of July 2006. A new LEC was needed because over the last several years the current jail has failed several inspections due to its age security issues.





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