Sara-Jayne Townsend is a published crime and horror writer and likes books in which someone dies horribly. She is founder and Chair Person of the T Party Writers’ Group. http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com/
A body is found hanging on a hook above the canals of Amsterdam’s old town, a mobile phone forced into the victim’s mouth. In a remote coastal village, a doll lies in the ashes of a burnt-out house. But the couple who died in the fire had no children of their own. Did a little girl escape the blaze? If so, who is she and where is she now.
World-weary Inspector Jaap Rykel is investigating both cases, but he has enough problems of his own, the most recent being the violent death of his last partner.
This is the first book in a new series featuring Inspector Jaap Rykel although the real star of the story is the city of Amsterdam, which is brought to life in its pages in a realistic and non-judgemental portrayal.
The human characters of the book are all dealing with various issues. Some of them are pretty serious issues (one has a cocaine addiction, for example). In fact, it’s fair to say that this book has a cast of pretty messed-up characters.
And amidst all this there are two apparently unrelated investigations – the body at the canal, and the missing child at the fire.
I must confess I did find this book a bit hard going at times. Many of the characters have so many flaws they become annoying. Jaap Rykel is a character I rooted for (frankly I felt sorry for him), and Tanya van der Mark, promising police officer who’s aiming to make Inspector is a great character. But she has to face some appalling abuse from colleagues who seem to think that a woman has no business being a police officer in the first place and certainly shouldn’t be promoted above them. And one of them is a viewpoint character.
Some people may find the violence in this book excessive. I also found the ending somewhat unsatisfactory. The book is being promoted as the first of the Amsterdam Quartet, and it is evident that you have to read all four to get all the loose ends tied up.
But if you like gritty police procedurals with flawed characters and plenty of violence, and you are looking for a change of pace from the usual Nordic Noir, then this book is right up your alley.