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Sunday 13 October 2013

‘Haunted’ by Linda Jansma

Published by De Crime Compahnie, 2013.
ISBN: 9789461091666
Janine and Albert Burghout have a marvellous life. They love each other deeply and also their 15-year-old daughter Nicole. Janine is the legal owner of a club in Amsterdam - the Mercury - which she and Albert run together. The club provides a venue for weddings and similar events and is highly successful. Janine and Albert are on good terms with all the staff and there is rarely trouble with clients. Then, early one morning, as Albert is leaving the club, he is shot dead. Janine’s and Nicole’s life falls apart. Worse still, the police think that Albert’s murder was not a random killing in the course of theft but was premeditated; his mobile phone was taken but a substantial amount of cash was left on his body. The police suspect retaliation - but for what? The club was never involved with drugs, weapons or any type of crime or with the sex trade. There is only one secret that Janine dare not, for her peace of mind, disclose to the police and that is her previous life as an under-age prostitute not in Amsterdam but in Utrecht, the memories of which have haunted her for 16 years. Albert knew of this but Nicole does not, and Janine wishes her to remain unknowing. But then Janine hears that Leon, her former pimp, who was imprisoned for murder, has been released and is looking for her. Janine is distraught with fear, not just for herself but for Nicole. Was it Leon who murdered Albert . . . or someone else?

This book, which is excellently translated, shows an aspect of Dutch society which is a far cry from the usual tulips-and-windmills depictions of life in Holland. But it is equally truthful - perhaps more so - and since the recent exposes of exploitation of young girls by ruthless sex gangs particularly relevant for British readers. A note by the author explains that the pimps prey on young girls and are known as ‘loverboys’ and there is an organisation dedicated to helping the girls: the Stop Loverboys Nu foundation.

A gripping, fascinating and, true to the title, haunting read.
Reviewer: Radmila May

Linda Jansma  born 19 October 1967 is a Dutch writer of thrillers. Linda  grew up in Amsterdam. In 2009 she won a fifth place at the Best Script writing competition, and it did not take long before she and her first thriller Kaleidoscope debuted in 2010, published by The Crime Company (formerly Verbum Crime). With this book, she won the Shadow price , the prize for the best Dutch exciting debut. She published her second thriller Tweestrijd, followed by Handhold in October of the same year.

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