After The Silence
A BODY IS FOUND HANGING ON A HOOK ABOVE THE CANALS OF AMSTERDAM'S OLD TOWN, A MOBILE PHONE FORCED INTO THE VICTIM'S MOUTH.
Introducing Inspector Jaap Rykel in a crime debut that does for Amsterdam what Rankin did for Edinburgh.
A murdered policeman, a dead businessman hanging from a hook, a building burnt to the ground in an arson attack and a missing girl - identity unknown.
It's up to damaged, world-weary Inspector Jaap Rykel of Amsterdam's finest to piece it all together. Alongside him he's got an inexperienced female detective wrestling with the ghosts of her past, and a Sergeant with a drugs habit. And then there's the internal affairs investigation . . .
A rich cast of characters, a sinewy, complex plot and a starring role for Amsterdam are the highlights of this brilliant debut police procedural.
Dark truths, hidden secrets and a new Inspector to die for.
With its narrow streets, famous canals and red-light district, Amsterdam provides a strong – if underused – setting for crime fiction. Throw in the January snow and ice and we have the perfect destination for Jake Woodhouse’s debut novel, the first of a quartet.
Inspector Jaap Rykel is a great new edition to the crime fiction scene. His close colleague, Andreas, has been shot, killed after chasing a lead. Rykel vows to catch the murdered, driven by his own guilt and the fact that Andreas’s girlfriend (an ex of Rykel’s) is due to give birth.
Andreas was looking into a vicious gang called the Black Tulips, Eastern Europeans who are linked to organised trafficking rings. Meanwhile, there’s an investigation into the murder of a businessman found hanging outside his apartment. Rykel’s colleague Tees Kerpstra is on hand as they pull the body back in through his apartment window and notice his open mouth. But this victim didn’t die yawning, he’s got a mobile phone stuffed in there. The man’s name is Friedman and his death is soon connected to the Black Tulips. Kerpstra is a slightly shady character, easily tempted and known to partake in cocaine and pleasures of the flesh. His sexist and addictive personality creates problems with colleagues and, unsurprisingly, his marriage is on the rocks.
Outside of the city Sergeant Tanya van der Mark has discovered two bodies in a building burnt out by arson. A doll in the ashes, and rumours that the couple had had a child staying with them, trigger a different kind of investigation. Tanya checks CCTV footage and finds a car with a distinctive driver. A man later linked to the Black Tulips. A link that brings her in contact with Rykel. But can she find the child?
This is a complex tale with a large cast of characters, many of which have their own demons and secrets. The Amsterdam police don’t make Rykel’s life any easier. Since he’s returned from a sick-leave year off he’s viewed with suspicion and his colleagues are quick to point the finger at him. Rykel must work to clear both his name and that of Andreas from horrible allegations.
It’s a great read if you can stomach plenty of violence and a high body count (the subject of child abuse might also keep readers away). It's well written with moments of wonderful humour and a strong new hero in the shape of Rykel. I look forward to seeing how his burgeoning relationship with Tanya develops. The Amsterdam setting works well as does the structure. Set chronologically and over a few days, the short chapters (often only a page) helped keep the pace up and gave a feeling of reading in real-time.
About Jake Woodhouse:
Jake Woodhouse studied at the Royal College of Music in London and played professionally, doing concerts in the UK and all over Europe. Amsterdam came next, studying for two years at the Conservatorium, making and playing instruments. Then boredom settled in. He decided on a change, decamping to New Zealand to study winemaking which led to Italy where he worked for several years as a winemaker before returning to the UK where he started a wine business. After being hospitalised he embarked on a writing career. He’d been brought up without a TV and always read like crazy so he decided to take on the involving challenge of writing crime fiction.