Author picture

John Kuipers

Author of Musserts schaduw

3 Works 20 Members 1 Review

Works by John Kuipers

Musserts schaduw (2022) 10 copies
Het bedrog van Göring (2023) 6 copies


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Dutch historical thriller set at the start of the Nazi occupation in the Hague.

I’ll admit that I do not particularly like police procedurals – they are often prosaic, predictable and dull. It often starts with a body, and a principal police investigator with some defects (alcohol abuse, divorced, whatever) who runs into wall after wall in his investigation; next the detective experiences personal distress (assault, impatient superiors) and is almost seduced by a damsel in distress, followed by some distracting trails. Finally: break-through, lots of action (pursuit, assault), resolution (confession, love). This largely also applies to this winner of the most prestigious Dutch thriller prize. Kuipers even uses consecutive dates as chapter headings (no jumping forward or looking back, no, no, no). This in itself means Kuipers lost a lot of opportunities for creating suspense.

The plot is not that complicated. A man is found in a train – knifed, bled out. He is the right-hand man of Mussert’s NSB – takes care of legal affairs (and turns out to be a homosexual, recruited by Dutch Intelligence). Investigating the NSB leadership proves frustrating and politically fraught (with the new Nazi order supporting their Dutch brothers-in-arms). There is some distraction on offer in the shape of the promiscuous ex wife of the victim, a seductive new neighbour from South Africa (Fie), the mysterious reappearance of thumb and forefinger of the corpse, and some thugs who abduct and attack our Chief Inspector. In the end, the whole case is triggered by the assassination in May 1940 of Anton Mussert’s brother (officer in the Dutch army) at Anton’s request, that was overheard and reported on by our spy-victim. Ultimately that assassination was performed by a Army guy, leaving the earmarked money for the second murder at the behest of the second in command at the NSB (van Geelkerken) to kill the spy-victim.

What I like about the thriller is Kuipers’ meticulous reconstruction of the characters of Mussert and van Geelkerken. A final irritating glitch of the publishers - why put a picture of a man on a snowed in shunting yard on a thriller that takes place at the peak of summer (July)? Bunch of f*ck wits...
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alexbolding | Mar 7, 2024 |


½ 3.7