Friday, March 06, 2009

Friday's "Forgotten" Books - DeKok and the Dead Harlequin by A.C. Baantjer

It's not that Baantjer's DeKok mysteries are forgotten. I just don't think they're well-known in the United States, although he's one of the most widely read authors in the Netherlands. I've enjoyed some terrific police procedurals in the last year, so the discovery of Baantjer's Dutch Homicide Inspector DeKok was a welcome addition to the collection. There are sixty novels in this series, so those of us who are just discovering him have a wealth of reading ahead of us. I'm glad I finally discovered them with DeKok and the Dead Harlequin.

Inspector DeKok works out of the police station at the edge of Amsterdam's Red Light District, in the busiest police station in Western Europe. His career has lasted over twenty years, so he's not easily surprised. But, when he receives a letter announcing the attention to murder someone, and the letter writer asks for an appointment to meet with DeKok, he's intrigued. When Pierre Brassel shows up, on time, and meets with DeKok and his partner, Vledder, he has an alibi when a man is murdered exactly when and where Brassel predicts.

From the moment he receives the letter, DeKok knows this is an unusual case. Although the "dead harlequin" of the title refers to the position the body was found in, I kept returning to the thought that a puppeteer, Brassel, was manipulating DeKok and the police throughout the entire investigation. And, this is an absorbing, interesting investigation that leads DeKok from the police station to a hotel, to thieves and watchmen and accountants, but, always, back to the harlequin.

It was a pleasure to meet Inspector DeKok, an intelligent man with unusual ways of investigating, methods not always approved by his supervisors. He is over 200 pounds, but can move lightly when necessary. He is well-respected, even on the streets of Amsterdam. He's a fatherly figure, who doesn't like strong language. He's a friendly man, who resembles his boxer. He can read people, and, it is people that are important to DeKok, not rules and regulations. This is certainly obvious in the turn taken in the course of DeKok and the Dead Harlequin.

Baantjer was a police inspector of the Amsterdam police. This beloved Dutch author uses his expertise and skill to bring his Inspector DeKok to life. DeKok and the Dead Harlequin might serve to bring a "forgotten" author to American audiences.

DeKok and the Dead Harlequin by Baantjer. Speck Press, 2009. ISBN 9781933108278 (paperback), 208p.



And, for other Friday "Forgotten" Books, check out Patti Abbott's website at www.pattinase.blogspot.com, where she summarizes all the suggestions for Friday.

17 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

OH, I hope I can find these. I lived in Amsterdam for a year and never heard of this series. Thanks so much.

Lesa said...

There are some published in this country in translation, Patti, but my library didn't have any. I'm donating this one today.

caite said...

I CAN NOT start any series with 60 books in it.
But I guess if I just tried one, it wouldn't hurt, right?....lol

Serena said...

here's an award for you: http://savvyverseandwit.blogspot.com/2009/03/proximidade-award.html

Lesa said...

Hi Caite,

That's why I never read Ed McBain's series. I'm waiting until I retire. (grin) Look at it this way, I don't think all 60 have been translated. So, you could start with whatever you could find.

meen said...

Wonderful review, Lesa. Since I'm Dutch and actually worked in the area where these stories are set, I'm very fond of Baantjer's series. Whenever I visit Holland I bring at least two of this series home with me and they never ever disappoint me. I hope you'll be able to find more of them. I'd offer you mine, but you'd have to learn Dutch first.

Lesa said...

Thanks, Marleen. As much as I enjoyed the book, I don't think I want to learn to read Dutch just for this series. But I really appreciate the offer! (grin) and, it's nice to hear from you that you like the books, and they never disappoint. Thanks!

Cathy said...

Oh boy, another author to track down!

meen said...

Lesa, I do really like these books, but they are definitely written according to a formula. I just happen to like the formula. And I recognize and like the setting very much. And finally, because I get my hands on at the most about two new titles every year, I'm not at any risk of reading to many of them in quick succession either. Just keep on enjoying them, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Lesa said...

Cathy,

I hope you came back, and read Marleen's comments, since she's been reading these books for a while. I'm like her, though. I liked the formula. I like police procedurals, and characters that become familiar. I'm sure I'd like to continue this series.

Lesa said...

Thanks, Marleen.

As you said, I like formula and familiar when it's a series with a continuing character that I grow to like. I'm sure I'd like more in this series.

Thank you for your comments. I consider you the expert!

joyce mcdowell said...

i.ll like win this book

Lesa said...

I'm sorry, Joyce. I'm not giving this one away. I gave it to the library.

meen said...

I feel very flattered, Lesa and wouldn't consider myself an expert at all since I know there are far more books in this series I didn't read (yet) than did read. But I'm glad you're enjoying them and will continue to do so myself.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Marleen. My guess is, though, that you've read many more of these books than anyone else I know!

Margie B. said...

Lesa, your review made the book sound so fascinating that I went looking for the books online and found an eBay auction for a group of 10 of the paperbacks. I was the winning (and only) bidder, and I can't wait to try them out. Thanks for the recommendation.

Lesa said...

Good for you, Margie! Now, I'm jealous! You'll have to come back and tell me if you liked them. Hope so, after buying 10!