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Tuesday, 18 August 2020

‘A Death in Rembrandt Square’ by Anja de Jager

Published by Constable,
24 October 2019.
ISBN: 978-1-47212631-3 (PB)

A Death in Rembrandt Square is the fourth in this series featuring Lotte Meerman of the Amsterdam Police. In this story Lotte is being pursued by reporter Sandra Ngo, whose immensely popular true-crime podcast is drawing attention to various police alleged shortcomings. One of those concerned the arrest and conviction of one Ruud Klaver ten years previously for the murder of Carlo Sondervelt, a case in which Lotte had been the lead detective. The murder had taken place outside a nightclub in a narrow street near Rembrandt Square where once Holland’s most famous painter had lived, now the heart of Amsterdam’s nightlife. Klaver had confessed to the murder at the time and the chief witness had been the victim’s girlfriend, so how could Ruud Klaver have been anything but guilty? Now, Klaver, not long out of prison, is apparently in hospital; he was knocked down by a car while walking along a street. When Lotte gets to the hospital, she recognises Klaver’s mother coming away in tears. Lotte learns from a traffic policeman, Charlie Schippers, that it is Klaver who was injured in a hit-and-run and there is some doubt as to whether it was an accident. Charlie is doubtful about the car’s trajectory, and there is no sign of the car itself. Lotte is reluctant to have anything to do with the case but her boss, Chief Inspector Moerdijk, insists that she take it over with Charlie, who is hopeful of transferring from Traffic Control to CID, assisting her. Examination of the scene of the accident makes it seem more than ever likely that it was no accident but deliberate and his injuries are so severe that his family agree to taking him off life support,  and he dies. Thus, what would be a case of attempted murder becomes murder.

And now Sandra Ngo wants to become involved; she tells Lotte that Klaver’s son Dennis had information that will establish Klaver’s innocence but if Lotte wants to know what that is, Lotte will have to bring Sandra in on her investigation. Lotte listens to a recent broadcast made by Klavers in which he retracts the confession he had made as to Sondervelt’s death, saying that he had been pressured by the police into the admission. Going over the facts of Sondervelt’s death brings back difficult memories for Lotte: she is still convinced that Klaver had been guilty of Sonnenvelt’s murder and that could be the motive for Klaver’s death; but is it? To discover the answer Lotte has to untangle the past and the present and in doing so finds that she also has to confront her own memories and feelings of guilt for her previous actions.
Reviewer: Radmila May

Anja de Jager is 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. There are now five books in the Lotte Meerman series.  The sixth Death at the Orange Locks will be published in October 2020.

Radmila May was 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.

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