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DeKok and the Dead Harlequin    by A. C. Baantjer order for
DeKok and the Dead Harlequin
by A. C. Baantjer
Order:  USA  Can
Speck, 2009 (2008)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

If you haven't previously read any of the sixty books in A. C. Baantjer's series featuring Inspector Jurriaan DeKok, where have you been?

Known as the Dutch Conan Coyle, Baantjer is one of the most widely read authors in the Netherlands. A former detective inspector with the Amsterdam police, and knighted by the Dutch monarchy for his lifetime achievements, Baantjer offers readers some of the best police procedural mysteries that any reader could find anywhere in the world.

When DeKok and the Dead Harlequin begins, the world-weary policeman with the woolly caterpillar eyebrows and the duck-footed waddle is confronted by an extremely intelligent and thoroughly personable Pierre Brassel, a gentleman who seeks DeKok's advice - 'a complete recipe' - for how to commit the perfect crime.

Then, when the seemingly perfect crime is apparently committed, Brassel would seem to be the ideal suspect. However, Brassel has an air-tight alibi because he and DeKok were chatting at the time of the murder.

To solve the case and bring the murderer to justice, DeKok must 'look for a sinister joker' who committed a murder 'in a macabre way.' The indefatigable Dutch detective knows - or at least firmly believes - that 'murderers always make mistakes.' After all, says, DeKok, 'If I were suddenly to believe in the perfect crime, I would immediately resign from the force.'

With little in the way of clues, DeKok will, of course, avoid resignation by solving the mystery. However, along the way, the Amsterdam copper who always whistles off-key Christmas carols, regardless of the time of the year, will rediscover what he had already known but had forgotten: Justice can be a terrible word.

The bottom line is this: DeKok and the Dead Harlequin is one of the best mysteries you will have an opportunity to read this year (or any other). And fortunately for you (and for me), Speck Press is now offering superb English translations of Baantjer's novels. So, what are you waiting for?

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