The Midas Murders by Pieter Aspe

the midas murdersDull and derogatory…


A German businessman is murdered after a night-out in Bruges, and a famous statue is blown up. Assistant Commissioner Pieter Van In is responsible for investigating both incidents and soon begins to wonder if there’s a connection.

This is the second book in the Van In series. The first, The Square of Revenge, was a fairly light novel with lots of humour, and an enjoyable relationship between Van In and his girlfriend, deputy prosecutor Hannelore Martens. Unfortunately this one is quite different and the change is not for the better.

The plot is hackneyed (really, is there much more that can be got out of the Nazi gold saga?), confused (at least half of the time I hadn’t a clue how Van In was making his deductive leaps, and the other half I didn’t care) and unbelievable. The writing continues to have the clunkiness I mentioned in my review of the first book, and I still can’t determine whether this is a problem with the original or the translation.

Van In’s drinking has now become excessive, so we are treated to descriptions of drunkenness and hangovers, insubordination and inability to carry out his job. Very yawnworthy and not even done as ‘well’ as the many, many other drunken mavericks we’ve been bored to death by over the last few decades. We’re also treated to Van In using every corny and hackneyed insult about Germans that the author could dredge up – references to the Master Race and ‘Heil Hitler’ abound. It’s as if the book was written in the ’40s rather than the ’90s.

Pieter Aspe
Pieter Aspe

But the real problem with this book is not the poor writing, the confused plotting, or even the tedious drunkenness. It’s in the attitude to women that the book really shows itself up to be an unpleasant piece of work. Van In (along with every other man in the book and therefore presumably the author) never looks at a woman without commenting on her breasts, her rear, her legs or her availability in the most derogatory terms. Hannelore has descended from being a colleague to being an object for sexual fantasising – the biggest fantasy being that an intelligent, beautiful and successful woman would find anything remotely attractive in the drunken, sexist and shabby Van In. But the sex scenes with the willing (exceptionally willing) Hannelore are not enough for Van In’s voracious appetite so he has to turn to prostitutes for regular top-ups during working hours. I apologise in advance, but here are a few examples of the language that disgusted me throughout this throwback to an earlier and less pleasant age:

She was wearing a modest jersey blouse and, he presumed, a Wonderbra.

He turned his gaze away from her legs. When she stood, he remained seated like a paralysed vulture. “Have a good day, Commissioner.” “I genuinely hope so,” he responded indifferently. The bitch left him cold.

“Comfort him, sweetheart,” said Van In scathingly. “What else are secretaries for?”

Van In shrugged his shoulders indifferently. The thought of Veronique made him horny. What was he to do? His body reacted to the bitch like a hungry baby to a juicy breast.

If you enjoyed these quotes, you might enjoy the book. Otherwise, do yourself a favour and skip it…the last Aspe I’ll be reading. (Extraordinarily, he has dedicated the book to his daughters! Saddening, isn’t it?)

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Open Road.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

43 thoughts on “The Midas Murders by Pieter Aspe

  1. Goodness! I see why you were vexed, FEF. The professor is too! You handled it very well, though. Maybe it was all a translation error? That’s it. I bet someone was playing tricks on the guy. Especially since he dedicated it to his daughters! 😆


    • I’m just glad there are men like the Professor around to remind me that they’re not all like that!

      I’d love to know what his daughters (now presumably grown-up) think of having this pile of *expletives deleted* dedicated to them…



      • I feel that it’s definitely okay to swear about such things, FEF. 😉 It’s truly a shame that such things get published. (There’s an appalling lack of gentlemen today–and ladies!)

        Me too. It would be revealing.

        Double Yucketh!


        • It is indeed! I might have to give up reading books from Open Road altogether – this is not the first from them that’s left me wondering why they would choose to publish it. I would cheerfully watch this one being burned… 😯

          (That’s because not enough people learn how to dance the cotillion…)


  2. FictionFan – What a disappointment! I’m sorry to hear it. And please, please, please don’t get me started on the plethora of drunken mavericks, misogynist messages and so on that we see in far too muc crime fiction. Just…please don’t get me started. Well, one good thing comes out of this: my visit to your wonderful blog today has not resulted in another addition to my ridiculously-long TBR list. 😉


    • The one positive was that I followed it up with the new Peter May, and it really made me appreciate what a joy it is to read a well written crime novel by someone who’s a fully paid-up member of the human race! But this one makes James Bond look like a feminist…


  3. Who reads these books? It’s like pornography – I just can think/imagine myself into the mind -set. And isn’t their something wrong when all your readers are delighted by a scathing review? You read too many good books, that’s what it is.


  4. It’s nice to see the examples of why you don’t like it and yes, I’d agree. This wouldn’t be up my street if this is the tone all the way through. Having an unlikable character like that is different to a whole books tone.


    • Yes, if it had just been one character it might have had a point, but when it’s every character – when all the women are treated this way – then it begins to seem it must be the author’s own view…


  5. Weird… I wonder if this sexist language is used on purpose to attract more male readers? When I come across those kinds of books it gives me the impression of a boy in kindergarten who has just learned a lot of new words and is eager to use them.


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