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Published by Constable, 7 November 2019.
A Murder at the Hotel Mondrian takes place in Amsterdam. Very early one morning Lotte is temporarily standing
in for her colleague Ingrid Ries who is part of a team investigating a series
of vicious muggings in the city’s red-light district when she discovers a man
badly beaten up and robbed in the street. She arranges for him to be taken to
hospital and is herself on the way there to meet Ingrid when she is stopped by
a passer-by, a middle-aged man, who assures her that he is not dead, and goes
on to tell her that he is Andre Martin Nieuwkerk and that he is staying at the
Hotel Mondrian. But how can he be Andre Martin
Nieuwkerk who was murdered 25 years ago when he was a teenager. This man is
about the right age that the murdered man would be if he was still alive, but
at the time when the remains were discovered they were skeletal careful examination
of which established to the satisfaction of the authorities (before DNA was used
in such examinations) that it was the missing man. The case, which became known
as The Body in the Dunes, was never solved although the media at the time named
a geography teacher, Paul Verbaan, as a likely suspect; later Verbaan committed
suicide. At the moment, however, Lotte assumes that the passer-by is actually
one of the mentally disturbed people who are occasionally encountered in the
city’s streets; she is more focussed on the enquiries into the victim of the
she later thinks she will just make some enquiries at the Hotel Mondrian, and
she discovers that whoeverhe is he is
calling himself Theo Brand, who has been living in London for many years and
has taken British nationality. More than that: the mystery man (Andre/Theo) is
now dead. Lotte’s curiosity is aroused. And if he really is Andre Nieuwkerk who
was the nameless person buried in the dunes? And why did he kill himself? She
begins by trying to contact 4 people whose names and telephone numbers are listed
in the dead man’s diary. This leads her in turn to an-ultra orthodox Dutch Calvinist
community which represses any form of deviation or dissent, then to a flat in
London (Putney), then back to Holland to follow a twisting line of clues through
long-hidden family secrets to Andre’s psychologically tortured life before he
took that fatal overdose.
I lived in The Hague for several years, I frequently visited Amsterdam and I
can certainly vouch for the authenticity of the author’s convincing and lively
portrait of Amsterdam with its medley of ancient and modern buildings set
alongside the numerous canals which form the arteries of the city past which
Lotte, like most of the Dutch, cycles to work. Lotte herself, who is often
driven by her conscience to do what she considers to be right irrespective of
what her superiors expect, is an attractive character as is her supportive
boyfriend Mark; luckily for Lotte, who is hopeless at cooking, he is happy to
prepare delicious meals for them both. And Lotte and her mother, despite the
latter’s prickly temperament, clearly have great regard for each other. Highly recommended.
Anja de Jageris a
London-based native Dutch speaker who writes in English. She draws inspiration
from cases that her father, a retired police detective, worked on in the
Netherlands. Currently she is working
on another Lotte Meerman novel. There are now five books
in the Lotte Meerman series.The sixth Death
at the Orange Locks will be published in October 2020.
born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven
years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice.
Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional
work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of
her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published
late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal
flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a
third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology –
and is now concentrating on her own writing.