Nom d’un nom d’un nom! A Belgian detective with no moustache?
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
When Commissioner Pieter Van In of the Bruges police is called in to a robbery in a jewellery store, he is stunned by three things. One – the burglars haven’t stolen anything; instead they have dissolved the jewellery in a vat of aqua regis and left behind a note with a mysterious Latin inscription. Two – the victim, the head of the wealthy Degroof family, wants the investigation kept hush-hush. And three – the new Deputy Public Prosecutor, Hannelore Martens, is female, young and incredibly sexy, and seems to find Pieter attractive too.
Under political pressure from Ludovic Degroof, the investigation is quietly dropped, but Hannelore persuades Van In to pursue it privately. It’s soon apparent this wasn’t an isolated incident, though, when Ludovic’s grandson is kidnapped and a very strange ransom demand is received. Van In is back on the case with 48 hours to find the boy…
This is a fairly light-hearted crime novel with a lot of humour, much of it related to Pieter’s and Hannelore’s burgeoning romance. Although we very soon find out who the kidnappers are, we don’t know the motive and the plot is convoluted enough that we are kept guessing until very near the end. There’s a hint of political manoeuvring, but to be honest this aspect lost me and I found my eyes glazing over a bit – perhaps you have to understand the Belgian political system. It wasn’t vital to the plot, though.
Although Hannelore starts out as a strong character she gradually seems to morph into nothing more than Pieter’s love interest – perhaps her penchant for going to work wearing mini-skirts and see-through blouses has something to do with that. (Male writers and their fantasies, eh? Bless!) But nevertheless the interactions between Pieter and her are fun. I was less enamoured with the interactions within the police – with one or two exceptions, everyone seems to dislike everyone else and be trying to do each other down. The plot has it’s dark aspects but the author keeps the tone consistently light, which made it an enjoyable read but not a particularly involving one.
The translation by Brian Doyle flowed smoothly for the most part, with only a couple of points where it seemed a bit disjointed (though whether translator or author, I can’t tell). The book was originally published in 1995 and I understand it is the first in a long and successful series (one of which, intriguingly, is called Rebus). I certainly found this one enjoyable enough to look out for more in the series when they are translated.
NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Open Road.