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The Tulip Virus by Daniëlle Hermans

The Tulip Virus

by Daniëlle Hermans

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What a terrific book! Having a mystery extend from the 1600's into today's world and bringing in so many current problems, showing that repetition occurs over and over throughout history, and was well documented in this historical novel. The short chapters let the reader jump easily from time differences as well as among the different characters closely involved with the mystery. ( )
  nyiper | Jun 4, 2013 |
From the very first page, Daniëlle Hermans has us intrigued. A murder in 1636 in an Alkmaar tavern, and another nearly 400 years later in an exclusive area of London: how are these related? What do the dying words of second victim mean? The two story lines develop independently, but are woven together beautifully. Daniëlle has obviously done quite a lot of research and we learn a great deal about tulip cultivation and trade, but in an easily digestible manner. She intertwines fact with fiction to produce an entirely believable tale. Daniëlle uses some clever analogies and pleasing echoes, the action is fast-paced, the dialogue, credible, and there are several plot-twists leading to a gripping climax. This novel is hard to put down: many will be compelled to read it in one sitting. David MacKay deserves praise for a first-rate translation. An excellent debut novel: let’s hope we are treated to English translations of Daniëlle Hermans’ subsequent novels soon. ( )
  CloggieDownunder | Mar 16, 2012 |
The premise of The Tulip Virus centers around the tulip craze of the 1630s. The 1636 murder of a tulip trader in Alkmaar is contrasted with the murder of Dutchman Frank Schoeller in modern-day London. Alec Schoeller, the nephew of the man murdered in the present day, arrives at his uncle’s home to find him dying. His uncle gives him a book—a catalogue of tulips from the last great auction before the tulip bubble burst in 1637. Alec’s search for his uncle’s killer leads him into the dangerous world of tulip trading. The differences between Science and religion are sharply drawn in this story of greed.

The mystery of the novel sort of fizzles out—the motive for murder is clear from the beginnings, even if the jacket copy doesn’t give it away. The author’s grasp of the history behind the story is strong, but really the historical bits take a back seat to the modern-day story, which is much more interesting.

Hermans’s skill lies in character development—Alec is one volatile man! And impatient—how I cringed at the scene where he’s nearly ripping apart the endpaper of the catalogue to get at what’s underneath! There’s a lot of tension between Alec and Damian, all the more so because of a certain event that’s revealed about halfway through. I did feel at times that this book is part of a series of novels; over and over Wainwright (the detective) mentions a previous case of his involving a serial killer. In Alec’s search for his uncle’s killer, there’s a lot of expostulation about the tulip trade, which is interesting; but I found it slightly unrealistic that no mention would be made (until the crucial point in the plot) of the Semper Augustus tulip bulb—the Holy Grail of tulip bulbs. It’s a bulb so rare and beautiful that the ultimate irony is that it is created by a very harmful virus.

Aside from my reservations about the book, I did think the book was well-paced. Since this is only Daneielle Hermans’s (there’s an umlaut over the first “e” in her first name) first book, I look forward to see what comes next from her. ( )
  Kasthu | May 26, 2010 |
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Daniëlle Hermansprimary authorall editionscalculated
Arguilé Bernal, MartaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In 1636 Alkmaar, Holland, Wouter Winckel's brutally slaughtered body is found in the barroom of his inn, an antireligious pamphlet stuffed in his mouth. Winckel was a respected tulip-trader and owned the most beautiful collection of tulips in the United Republic of the Low Countries. In 2007 London, history seems to be repeating itself. Dutchman Frank Schoeller is found in his home by his nephew, Alec. Severely wounded, he is holding a 17th-century book about tulips, seemingly a reference to the reason for his death moments later. With the help of his friend Damien Vanlint, an antique dealer from Amsterdam, Alec tries to solve the mystery, but soon comes to realize that he and his friend's own lives are now in danger.… (more)

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