Books by Janwillem van de Wetering

THE AMSTERDAM COPS by Janwillem van de Wetering
Released: Sept. 1, 1999

Since Adjutant Henk Grijpstra and Sgt. Rinus de Gier have appeared in 14 novels (The Perfidious Parrot, 1998, etc.) and only 13 stories—all of them collected here, 5 readily available in English for the first time—readers may wonder whether the short form really suits van de Wetering's digressive gifts. The answer is yes, absolutely, fabulously—but only if you're willing to define the detective short story rather more generously than usual. Van de Wetering, playing with the form like a cat with a mouse, sets his detective duo to investigate murders, suicides, a supermarket scam, sometimes shunting them into minor roles or keeps them offstage till the climax (their boss the commisaris even gets a case of his own). His expositions are equally varied—has any writer of mystery short fiction ever been so inventive in the ways he lays out the facts of a case?—and his casts thin but memorable, since he paints his characters so lovingly that he rarely has time to set up more than a suspect or two, each of them well worth your time. The changes van de Wetering rings on the short-story formula do more than any other recent writer's work to inspire confidence in the form. Read full book review >
THE HOLLOW-EYED ANGEL by Janwillem van de Wetering
Released: July 1, 1996

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. Read full book review >
JUST A CORPSE AT TWILIGHT by Janwillem van de Wetering
Released: Oct. 1, 1994

In the seven years since Hard Rain (1987), Amsterdam cops Henk Grijpstra and Rinus de Gier have both left the force, Grijpstra to become a private eye, de Gier to lord it in splendid isolation over a rented island off the coast of Maine. But their retirement is ended by a late-night phone call from de Gier, who's afraid he's killed his girlfriend Lorraine by kicking her down a cliff while he was too drunk and stoned to pay closer attention to what he was doing. Now he wants Grijpstra's hands-on assistance in dealing with Flash Farnsworth and Bad George, the obliging buddies who took her body away in their boat and are now politely demanding blackmail. Grumbling at top volume, Grijpstra flies to the US, making the last leg of the trip in a rickety prop plane whose pilot, a suspiciously well-connected local named Ishmael, has a storied history of crash-and-burns. Once installed on Squid Island, he struggles to keep from running afoul of the tyrannical sheriff while digging up evidence that Lorraine's not really dead, a ploy that seems to backfire when he finds Lorraine's corpse thrust into a shallow grave. Or is it really Lorraine's corpse after all? And if it isn't, what's become of her, and who is the woman in her grave? More important, how is Grijpstra and de Gier's foxy old boss—who, like Achilles racing the tortoise, is getting closer and closer to Squid Island without ever arriving—going to fix the mess if he ever does arrive? Less a mystery novel than a novel about mystery—as usual in this piquant, much-loved series. Read full book review >