Utrecht police inspector Caes Heda leads a team looking into the disappearance of young women. Meanwhile his daughter, Truus, bored with University takes up a job with disgraced former police officer Thijs Orman at his Private Detective Agency and finds herself looking for yet another missing girl, this time it’s her bosses own daughter. Are they all linked? At the Kroonstraat Police station the team Caes has put together look into the normal run of the mill cases and try to overcome the weather as much as the crime in the city as snow envelopes the streets of Utrecht. We meet twins Freddie and Maaike Meijer who patrol the streets together with colleagues Adrie and Danny. The team is made up by Madelon Verloet and man mountain Ernst Hougewood. Together they investigate car theft, street crime, assault and finally murder. We look at the everyday lives of the police involved. Caes still traumatised after his wifes early death and Truus falling for Maaike.
Maaike Meijer is attacked in a senseless outbreak of violence at the Dom Tower in Utrecht. Her brother, Freddie, fights off the assailants but how is the brutality linked to a series of violent threats, cyber crime and the Dutch Secret Service? Truus Heda continues her work as a private investigator whilst caring for her lover before finding the missing link. As the nightmare unfolds we enter the world of Serbian gangsters and Utrecht Goths and see how Hoofdinspecteur Caes Heda and his overworked team tackle a crime that could consume the city.
Good characterisation and an interesting plot make for a good read in this the first of the Utrecht novels from Jonathon Wilkins.
The author has a tendency to mix in Dutch words and phrasing which is a little off putting at times (I used a translation App to help out which makes for a less than smooth read) but would be easily remedied by a good editor/proofreading. It became a rather quirky style and didn’t stop me from reading. The storyline was good enough to keep me going.
Caes is the main detective but Truus, his daughter, and Maaike, one of his team, stood out as strongly and their personal thread was a lovely story in itself.
We get a fair bit on Caes and Truus’ personal lives including Femke Caes wife and Truus’ mother who had died a few years before. It was quite sad to read and was still impacting on them, in both their personal and work/studies. Also how keeping fit, going to the gym is such a big part of their lives took up a fair part of the book. This might have been better if it had been given a little less space. Still, I think there was good reason to have both of these threads.
The personal themes are as much a part of this book as is the investigation into three missing women. Which is a really good story, a good read and a hard hitting plot line. It was interesting to read about the way in which crime is investigated in Holland. Also, how the police work with outside agents – in this instance a Private Investigation Agency. Perhaps Truus’ involvement, as she is taken on as a sort of apprentice there, has an influence on Caes.
The missing girls investigation is added to when there are two murders. One of the missing girls is found to be key to what was happening. It becomes even more personal to Caes when Truus gets caught up with the perpetrator. There is good pace to this storyline especially as it gets closer to being resolved.
All in all an enjoyable read, set in a rather wintery Utrecht – as you know I do enjoy a little or indeed quite a lot of snow!
Purchased – eBook of Utrecht Snow.
The second book in the series opens with a brutal attack by unknown assailants on Maaike and her twin brother, Frederick who is also part of Caes’ team.
Knowing what to expect with regard to the style and inclusion of Dutch words and phrases made this a slightly smoother read.
As the investigation into the attack is ongoing there are two bank robberies and then a murder for Caes and the team to contend with.
This is becoming a series that is very much a team based operation. There is Caes, Madelon, Ernst, Danny, Andre, Frederick and Maaike along side Truus and Thijs Orman as private investigators and, in this book, AIVD, the General Intelligence and Security Service in the Netherlands.
It was good to be back in Utrecht and we have a map at the beginning of this book. Not being familiar with Utrecht I thought this was really useful. It is set several months after the first book and the snow has sadly gone. In it’s stead we have rain making for a rather damp, grey Utrecht. Don’t worry if you haven’t read the first book this is easily read as a stand-alone.
We continue to follow Maaike and Truus’ developing relationship, which is lovely, but also we are seeing some growth in Caes and Truus’ lives as they begin to get involved, once more, with the sport of basketball. Caes is coaching and Truus playing. They are beginning to move on. Truus is also preparing to swop courses at University and she continues to work for Thijs Orman.
Truus plays a large part in the book as we get quite a lot of information about what is happening through her role as a fledgling private investigator. She and Thijs are looking into some warehouse thefts that the owner doesn’t want to report to the authorities and are checking out a young man, Edgar, whose father is concerned about. Nevertheless, there is stuff going on both with Caes’ team and AIVD which culminates in a joint operation to take down the various perpetrators.
Once again we have a good plot line and wonderful cast of characters to enjoy in Utrecht Rain. With a peculiar charm of its own this is well worth reading and I look forward to reading more of them in the future.
Provided – eARC of Utrecht Rain, see acknowledgement below.
Many thanks to Emma at damppebblesblogtours for the invite to join this lovely book tour and for providing an eBook of Utrecht Rain from Jonathon Wilkins and publisher Lulu
Why not check out the rest of the Tour?
Publishing: Utrecht Snow published by lulu.com in paperback format on 6th March 2020. | Utrecht Rain published by lulu.com in paperback format on 17th March 2020.
Author: Jonathan loves to write. He is a retired teacher, lapsed Waterstones’ bookseller and former Basketball Coach. He taught PE and English for 20 years and coached women’s basketball for over 30 years.
He regularly teaches creative writing workshops in and around Leicester.
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