This latest Baantjer mystery delves into a grotesque double murder in a well-known Amsterdam hotel. In a surprising twist, Inspector DeKok has nightly conversations with the murderer and tries everything possible to prevent the man from giving himself up to the police. Risking the anger of his superiors, DeKok goes so far as to disappear in order to prevent the perpetrator from being found. Meanwhile, two unexpected characters add to the web of confusion: a six-year-old girl who never sleeps and a respected accountant who seeks DeKok s advice on committing the perfect crime. With Dead Harlequin, Baantjer has created yet another intelligent, absorbing tale.
Baantjer's ( Murder in Amsterdam ) latest mystery finds his hero, Inspector DeKok, in fine form. His eyebrows continue to have "a life of their own," and they get plenty of exercise in this tale of murderous revenge, as Pierre Brassel, a respected Amsterdam accountant, brazenly asks DeKok for an appointment to discuss how he can commit the perfect murder. At the meeting, he announces that the corpse of Jan Brets, an underworld figure, can be found in a nearby hotel; the meeting is his alibi when Brets is discovered dead, exactly where Brassel said he would be. The victim's head is smashed in and his body shaped into a grotesque harlequin form. A series of red herrings and dead ends leads up to a second murder, in the same place as the first, with the victim's body twisted into the same harlequin form. Brassel again conveniently arranges for DeKok to be his alibi. As in Baantjer's earlier works, the issue of moral ambiguity once again plays heavily here, as DeKok ultimately solves the crimes, but only after threatening to perjure himself, and in the end he lets the double-murderer go free in the interest of a greater good than justice under the law.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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February 27, 2009
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