JUDAS by Astrid Holleeder
Kirkus Star


How a Sister’s Testimony Brought Down a Criminal Mastermind
Email this review


A sister’s incriminating memoir exposing her abusive upbringing and a brother’s felonious misdeeds.

Former Dutch criminal lawyer Holleeder, who wrote her unsparing memoir in complete secrecy, retraces the history behind the notoriously ruthless past of her gangster kingpin brother Willem (aka Wim). She compellingly recounts the first coldblooded attempt on her brother-in-law Cor van Hout’s life, then flashes back through a miserably dysfunctional childhood with three other siblings, all tormented by an abusive “megalomaniac” father in a brutish household where “crying was forbidden.” Despite her father’s tyrannical rule, Wim emerged as the greatest source of familial horror as the family became “worn out by the terror that had passed from father to son.” Wim was implicated alongside van Hout in the 1983 kidnapping of Freddy Heineken, and both served lengthy jail sentences. But Wim’s reign of crime was just beginning. Fresh out of prison, unrepentant, “cold and heartless,” Wim demandingly insinuated himself into Holleeder’s and her sister Sonja’s personal lives, upending them both. In a brisk and vividly descriptive narrative, the author spares no detail as she chronicles the fearful years following an attempt on van Hout’s life, noting that subsequent attacks were sure to follow. A third assassination attempt mutilated van Hout in public as Wim also deployed a string of extortion plots and contract killings across Amsterdam. Legal proceedings and jail sentences followed, while a frustrated Holleeder kept seeing her brother released to continue his reign of Mafia-style crime. Processing feelings of guilt and betrayal while clearly risking her life, the author began cooperating with the Justice Department. She testified against Wim and then visited him in prison wearing a recording device to pick up his confession to orchestrating van Hout’s murder. Currently in hiding as the case proceeds, Holleeder has written a harrowing, courageous account of murder and family loyalty while sacrificing her career and her identity in the process.

A riveting, sensational, unforgettable autobiography.

Pub Date: Aug. 14th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-316-47530-3
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2018


NonfictionMAFIA SON by Sandra Harmon
by Sandra Harmon
NonfictionAMERICAN MAFIA by Thomas A. Reppetto
by Thomas A. Reppetto
NonfictionDAUGHTER OF THE KING by Sandra Lansky
by Sandra Lansky