Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Midas Murders: Pieter Aspe

The Midas Murders (1996) is the second book in a long series of police procedural novels by Pieter Aspe. Aspe is a Belgian author and the books were originally published in Belgium. This is only the second novel in the series to be translated into English and published in the US and the UK.

The first book in this series, The Square of Revenge, ended on an up note, with Commissioner Van In's prospects on the job improving, and his relationship with Hannelore Martens of the Public Prosecutor's office going well. Thus I was surprised to find that Van In was having problems in this book. Problems with women, alcohol, and depression. His health is not good and his finances are suffering.  To top it off, he is behind on the payments for the beautiful house that he loves, and he cannot convince the bank to give him time to catch up on payments.

Van In is called in on two cases. A German business executive is found dead in the snow. At first it seems to be the result of an accident, but they begin to suspect foul play very soon. And very shortly after that, there is a bombing of a historic statue to be investigated.

The tone of these murder mysteries is different from most English-language mysteries I read. They seem to have a lighter, less serious tone, but definitely not cozy-ish. Sex and risque language, but not a lot of violence. I like the differences.

I found the effects of the strains and stresses of Van In's job to be realistic, although we get little background on why he has spiraled into the state he is in. Hannelore and his friends at work support him and the relationships seem realistic. Even though one wonders why Hannelore is so forgiving, I bought it, and I like the relationship. I found the whole story -- the mystery, the investigations, and the background relationships -- intriguing.

I have not even mentioned the setting which is the beautiful city of Bruges. That is another plus for this novel.

This book was provided for review by Open Road Integrated Media via NetGalley. 

16 comments:

  1. I am going to have to stop going by his books in bookstores. They sound too good to be missed.

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    1. Bill, I am enjoying them. I hope that they translate and publish more of them.

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  2. Is it a long book Tracy? Sounds good and you have me wavering!

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    1. Col, Amazon says the hardback is 336 pages. I can never tell when I am reading an e-book (and I don't like that). I liked both books and they are different from the norm.

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  3. Tracy - You've got me quite intrigued! I've heard of this series, but not read any of it yet. Seems I ought to check it out!

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    1. Margot, I do hope you try one the books and like it. I would like to know what you think pf it.

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  4. I have both of these books and really need to get to them, argh!

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    1. Peggy, I really do think you will like them when you get to them.

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  5. Tracy:I have marked this writer down to try sometime next year. I haven't heard of him before now and I am intriqued. I love police procedurals too so thanks.

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    1. Keishon, it surprises me how different police procedurals can be. I think it is a good picture of Bruges and Belgium also because the author is local.

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  6. Sounds good TracyK - I'll have to read this if, for no other reason, to be able to say that I've read more than just one Belgian crime writer! Thanks.

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  7. Sergio, I hope you try this author. I liked the plot of this second one better, but both books were entertaining.

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  8. And here's another one you are adding to my lists! I had never heard of this author at all, and think a Belgian procedural might be an interesting one to try....

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    1. Moira, one of the things I enjoy when reading books from different countries is discovering the different writing styles and approaches to mystery fiction. Of course you never know how much the translation affects these things but I learn about more than just the settings and the culture.

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  9. I've not heard of this writer, Tracy. I'm not sure he's for me given the tone, but we'll see.

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  10. Sarah, I do know what you mean. I have been surprised at how many different types of books I have enjoyed reading recently. These books seem to have a split personality, but again it was the plot that grabbed me.

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