Thursday, November 12, 2009

Janwillem van de Wetering

Another random library choice. I think I was struck by the author's name, that is its similarity to the name of the policeman hero, van Veeteren, in Håkan Nesser's books. (Remind me to give those books a proper try some day. Have read the odd one that's all.) Looking the cover over I saw it was full of superlative quotes, the most memorable being from someone called John Leonard:

He's doing what Simenon might have done if Albert Camus had sublet his skull.

Now, with an endorsement like that i just had to read it, obviously.

This is a part of a series, the Grijpstra-de Gier series, but our library only has this one book, and I don't think it's the first one either. I don't know if the book would have been more immediately appealing if I'd read the series from the beginning, but as it was I had a hard time getting into it. About half-way through I started to quite like it, and now I feel like I might at some point read more of van de Wetering's. Perhaps not actively hunt for them, but if something fell into my lap, like, I wouldn't shy away from it. My initial reaction was that here was someone trying too hard to be quirky and original, leaving his characters more like caricatures than people. I was proven wrong towards the end, as I said. There's definitely more feeling in his writing than I first thought. I think van de Wetering might be quite a Big Deal, but I'd never heard of him before. Apparently he wrote in Dutch and English, and this book was previously published in a Dutch version - I just love that, that he wrote different versions of the books instead of translating them!
de Gier has moved to a small town in Maine and rented a house in an attempt to find himself after he and Grijpstra quit the police. Now he rings Grijpstra in a panic because his lover is dead and it looks like de Gier murdered her. Nobody knows yet, and can private detective Grijpstra please come and help him? So his old partner does, and discovers a more complicated town and situation than what he'd expected.

My favourite bit is that the man who comes to pick Grijpstra up at the airport in a small aeroplane is called Ishmael. And that Ishmael has an old warehouse in which he has a collection of What. It's worth reading the whole book just for Ishmael's theories on owning, losing, having and not having, and what is worth collecting. I'm not going to explain what a collection of What is, that would spoil it if you want to read it, and it's too wonderful to spoil.

I didn't think I'd recommend it, but I do. I don't LOVE it, but it's appealing.

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