Reading a good mystery novel can be a very satisfying experience. I believe it has to do with the fact that, while crime is always terrifying, as readers we know that the crime will most likely be solved at the end of the book and the murderer, if not caught, will at least be identified.
I have lost count of how many mystery books I have read over the years. I have read good and bad ones. I have read British whodunnits and cosy mysteries, Nordic Noirs and Italian Gialli, American hard-boiled fiction and French locked room mysteries, but it was not until I moved to Holland that I discovered that the Dutch also have their own approach to crime fiction.
Below are three of my favourite Dutch mystery books, that I hope you will enjoy this winter:
In this novel, originally published in 2014, The Dinner’s author Herman Koch plays with fiction and reality while telling the story of writer M and his downstairs neighbour, Herman. This is a very interesting exploration of the limits of innocence and how fiction can impact peoples’ lives.
Eric and Simone decide to sell their house in Amsterdam and start a new life in a beautiful place in the South of France, where they buy a house and hire an expat contractor, Peter, to renovate it. Simone starts an affair with one of Peters’ crew member, Michel. But Peter is watching, and soon will take advantage of the situation. This “woman-in-jeopardy story” is full of tension and plot twists.
A waitress at one of Amsterdam’s most elegant Japanese restaurants reports her boyfriend missing. The police search throughout the Netherlands and finally locate a corpse. The murder seems to be the work of the yakusa, a Japanese version of the Mafia and Detectives De Gier and Grijpstra are led far a field to the holy city of Kyoto to solve the mystery.
The book is part of the Grijpstra and de Gier series, a dozen novels set the Murder Brigade of the Amsterdam Municipal Police.
As usual, the above is a small and very biased sample of what Dutch mystery literature has to offer. Let us know in the comments which ones are your favourite horror stories and why.