In another of the author's quirky stories (Just a Corpse at Twilight, 1994, etc.), a long-distance problem is absorbing the time and attention of the Amsterdam commissaris (Chief of Detectives) and a couple of his best men—Sergeant Rinus de Gier and Adjutant Henk Grijpstra. Bert Termeer, a Dutch bookdealer and 20-year resident of New York City, has been found dead in Central Park—dressed in rags, his body half-destroyed by animals. His nephew Jo Termeer, reared by Bert from age eight, has flown to the US, met with the precinct police, and is unsatisfied with findings of probable heart attack. Termeer is a prosperous, 40-ish, gay hairdresser who has worked ably for years in the volunteer wing of the Amsterdam police and now seeks their help in closing the case. The commissaris, verging on retirement, decides to accept an invitation to a weeklong police congress in Manhattan. Once there, although plagued by flu, he meets Detective Sergeant Earl Hurrell, in charge of the case; sets off a wild goose chase back home; is haunted by the specter of an empty-eyed woman tram driver; and finally gets Sergeant de Gier to join him in the city. Together they meet a series of unlikely strangers spouting dizzy philosophies and track down Charlie Perrin, owner and only other occupant of the downtown warehouse where Bert lived and worked. What they find sends them back to Amsterdam, bizarre solution in hand. Bizarre could also describe the oblique dialogue here—bits of movies; lines of poetry; scraps of teachings from Nietzsche to Zen- -most of it having little to do with what's going on. A couple of hefty subplots add substance to an intriguing story often sabotaged by its mannered, antic style.
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