This week the Crime Fiction on a Euro Pass travels through Belgium and the Netherlands. Kerrie at her blog, Mysteries in Paradise, has the train running smoothly with interesting books and authors at every stop. The journey has moved from England through Portugal / Spain to France and now the Low Countries. Not finding any books set in the Netherlands or written by Dutch authors in my past 11 years of reading I looked for a Dutch book for the EuroPass meme. I chose a book by Janwillem Van de Wetering written a generation ago.
45. – 605.) The Blond Baboon by Janwillem Van de Wetering (1978) – On a dark and stormy night Sergeant de Gier and Adjuant Grijpstra of the Amsterdam police are called out to investigate the death of Elaine Carnet. (I have long wanted to use “a dark and stormy night” to start a review.) She has died as a result of a fall down the steps of her house into the garden. Was it accidental or was she pushed? There is a gruesome look of triumph in her face.
De Gier and Grijpstra investigate but I found it interesting how the Commissaris and detective Cardozo are given important roles in the investigation.
Elaine is the successful majority owner of a business selling furniture. She shares a building with her lovely daughter, Gabrielle. Her long time minority partner, Bergen, appears unsettled. Franseco Pulliani, the son of her major supplier, is in Amsterdam visiting the firm. Elaine’s former lover and employee, Vluet, known as the “blond baboon” has remained in contact with her. (I wonder in the politically correct atmosphere of today if the title would be used. Were it to refer to a woman I doubt a publisher would allow the title.)
Do any of them appear to have a financial motive for killing Elaine? What are the personal connections?
Elaine has been an unhappy woman for some time spending her days in idle pursuits and her nights drinking.
The Baboon is an interesting character. A clever skilled salesman he turned down the opportunity to run the business with Elaine. Instead, he chose to live a less rewarding financial life in which he restores boats, rents out apartments and lives simply.
The investigation proceeds logically, even methodically. People are interviewed, evidence assessed and leads pursued. There are no startling twists. The pace is steady. There is but one body. It lacks the dramatic scenes of current crime fiction.
What is striking is that all of the police get along reasonably well and they are constantly thinking. Many modern detectives find their way to solutions by poking around and blundering about the story.
It is a nice solid book. I expect I will read more of Van de Wetering. As common with the mysteries of a generation ago it is 168 pages in length. (Aug. 13/11)