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The Corpse on the Dike by Janwillem van de…
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The Corpse on the Dike (1976)

by Janwillem van de Wetering

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John Leonard said of Janwillem van de Wetering, “He is doing what Simenon [author of the wonderful Maigret stories:] might have done if Albert Camus had sublet his skull.” There is a great resemblance to Simenon — high praise, indeed. Wetering, who served in the Amsterdam Reserve Constabulary but now lives in the United States, ensconces his detective stories in Amsterdam. The commisaris, Amsterdam’s chief of detectives, is a wily, philosophical old man who wields subtle techniques to bring out the best in Adjutant Grijpstra and Sergeant De Gier, who suffer from the normal human catastrophes and ensorcellments.

I like police procedurals, and Dutch and Swedish are some of the best. These from Amsterdam are very satisfying. In The Corpse on the Dike , a man is shot dead in his back yard with a bullet between the eyes. The sole suspect, in what otherwise seems a motiveless murder, is the lesbian next door who, they suspect, might have been jealous of her fetching roomer’s interest in the dead man. She was a crack shot, a gun enthusiast and sportswoman in a country where guns are difficult to obtain legally. She vehemently and convincingly denies having committed the crime. The dead man had no apparent friends and was not involved in any crimes. A couple of motorcycle police stumble on the key to the case when they witness several men unloading a truck of stolen goods. Soon it is apparent that the residents of the dike are all involved in some prodigious thievery led by the “Cat,” but the motive for the killing still eludes the authorities — for a while.

Updated 6/19/09 ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
Within just a page or two of his books, the late Janwillem Wetering transports me back to that glorious city of Amsterdam and I get a boost of nostalgia and affection for both the city and his strong, quirky and nearly-believable characters.

I am sure that the Amsterdam I knew was never quite so intriguingly zen-religious and metaphysical as the Commissaris feels, or as criminally exciting as the Adjutant and Sergeants always discover. But I can believe that even today the Dutch police are shocked and repulsed to find guns on the streets, let alone one being used in the execution of a crime.

In Corpse on the Dike, the third in Wetering’s series about the Dutch Detectives Grijpstra and de Gier, the plot opens not only with a gun, but a murder – by a crack-shot. The story unfolds through Wetering’s usual clever and misleading scenarios and we are enticed then repelled by his crooked characters, and we are led further down the ‘garden paths’ of his plot twists by his evocative descriptions of this beautiful city of green shaded gravel walks along canal and dike.

The cops, of course, get their villains, the gardens are tended, the cats fed, and justice is served along with those small, fragrant, Dutch cigars and deliciously strong Dutch coffee. The lightest fiction that I read, in fact about the only Roman books I can open these days, the Dutch detective series of Wetering continues to please with its impish humor and addictive atmosphere – and great cops of course!
  John_Vaughan | Jul 16, 2011 |
A Rare Classic: I didn't know what to expect, as this was my first introduction to this author or any dutch author for that matter. This book grabs you and won't let go until the very end. Even then it is reluctant. You immeadiately bond with the two qwirky detectives as they discover clues concerning a rare homicide in Amsterdam, and they discover themselves. Outstanding, interesting, offbeat and just plain fun. Worth the time.
  iayork | Aug 9, 2009 |
A recluse had been shot right between the eyes as he stood looking out of the bedroom window. His neighbour, a schoolteacher who is a pistol shot champion, admits she discovered the body and failed to report it. Is she guilty? Grijpstra, de Gier and the commisaris are forced to use their psychological acumen to solve this mystery.
This book grabs you and won't let go until the very end. Even then it is reluctant. You immediately bond with the two quirky detectives as they discover clues concerning a rare homicide in Amsterdam, and they discover themselves.
Outstanding, interesting, offbeat and just plain fun. Worth the time…
  McDonaldTait | Mar 29, 2007 |
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