Friday, November 23, 2012

Book Beginnings on Friday - Outsider in Amsterdam



The Volkswagen was parked on the wide sidewalk of the Haarlemmer Houttuinen, opposite number 5, and it was parked the way it shouldn't be parked.
The adjutant* had switched the engine off.
The adjutant hesitated.
He had arrived at his destination, Harrlemmer Houttuinen, number 5, and the high narrow gable house was waiting for him. He studied the gable house and frowned. The house had a body in it, a dead body, suspended. The body was bound to be turning slowly. Bodies, suspended by the neck, are never quite still.

*Dutch municipal police ranks are constable, constable first class, sergeant, adjutant, inspector, chief inspector, commissairs. An adjutant is a noncommissioned officer.

I was intrigued by the last part of the first sentence. It says something about the driver, doesn't it? And then the hanging bodies never being 'still' - just the slightest bit creepy, and something we don't always think about. I love that little asterisk and the information about police ranks. I wish more books offered such details. I've spent a fair bit of my English mystery reading time trying to figure out all the police titles like Detective Inspector and Chief Inspector. 

In this 1975 book the adjutant is named Grijpstra and the sergeant is de Gier, and with these words, JanWillem van de Wetering begins his series featuring the two Dutch policemen. The books have been on my to-be-read radar for many, many years ever since I was on the Dorothy L mailing list in my early days on the internet. After I read a posting last month by Peggy I got serious and ILLed the first book in the series so I could finally begin my reading adventures with these fellows. I'm about a third of the way through, and am enjoying it. There are many layers of interest for me: the Amsterdam setting, the policemen who are quite opposite from one another, and the mid-seventies life there. As I've noted before, I really do enjoy reading about a period when it was happening even more than an historical look back from the present day.


For other book beginnings this Friday, please do visit Rose City Reader.

Addendum: If you go here, you may read Janice's post on the same book Peggy wrote about, The Maine Massacre.

18 comments:

  1. I adore this series, it's one of my absolute favourites, but they've been hard to get here in recent years (I read them from the library originally). I am slowly begin to amass a collection of them again - they get more and more absorbing as it progresses and the relationships between the detectives and the commisaris are explored. I do hope you'll love them too!

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    1. I am so pleased you wrote to tell me. I'm planning to ILL the second in the season, and then go through them all!

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  2. I like your choice and hope that it continues to be a great read!!

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  3. I've written the name of this down, sounds like something I'd enjoy. I hope AbeBooks has it. Nan, I don't have a clue what ILL is??

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    1. It is Inter Library Loan, a wonderful, wonderful program through the library system.

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  4. The story sounds intriguing although the writing in the opening isn't impressing me. Maybe it gets better?
    My post is from MIDWIVES.

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    1. I found the quiet beginning most appealing. :<)
      I LOVE Midwives; one of my favorite books, and the only CB I've read.

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  5. I was on Dorothy-L during my first years on the internet too......And then, what happened? Did it become full of flame wars and I just left? Do you know the Stop, You're Killing Me website?
    I used to read some of this author'w work, but I am wondering if he had books set in Asia, too.....Have to check.

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    1. I think for me it was just too much to read. And once I began reading blogs, I got all the information I needed about mysteries.
      I do know that site. It is great.
      The book Peggy wrote about was set in Maine, and I read that the author lived there. He had traveled all over the world so I wouldn't be surprised if there is a book set in Asia.

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  6. I've read a few of his mystery novels, and enjoyed each. I wrote about one in my Reading Diary. But I first read his memoirs as a Zen Buddhist monk - "A Glimpse of Nothingness" (experiences in an American Zen Community) and "The Empty Mirror", in a Japanese Zen Monastery

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    1. Very, very interesting. That sensibility is in this mystery.

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  7. I will have a look for this book! Thanks for the introduction, Nan!

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    1. I would guess you might find it particularly interesting.

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  8. Glad you are enjoying the book! I cleaned out my bookshelves the other day and I found another one in this series that I forgot I had! Every time I clean out the bookshelves its like Christmas!

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    1. How delightful!! Which one did you find? I plan to ILL the second, Tumbleweed.

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  9. It is interesting to me how similar our tastes and experiences are, Nan, if one can judge from a blog. JanWillem van de Wetering has been on my To Read list forever, and I'm pretty sure I have several of his books on my shelf upstairs waiting the right moment. Perhaps the time has come!

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    1. I think blogs are pretty accurate representations of the writer, don't you?!
      The book is different from any mystery I've ever read. I really do like it.

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Now that I am a grandmother, it seems that I am often late in replying to your most-appreciated comments. But I read them as soon as they come in, and I will write as soon as I can. Please do come back and check. I love these blogging conversations. A little addendum - I've just spent quite a long time catching up with dear notes you left me months ago!! I do hope you can get back to read them. And I'm trying to be much more prompt now!

Also, you may comment on any post, no matter how old, and I will see it.