Sunday, September 20, 2015

From Bruges with Love: Pieter Aspe

Description from the Open Road Media website:
Behind the glamorous facade of elite Belgian society lies a seedy world unseen by the public eye—but nothing stays hidden forever 
Inspector Pieter Van In is begrudgingly finishing up a healthy lunch when he hears the news: While restoring their farmhouse, the Vermasts have found a skeleton in the backyard. Van In, who happens to be married to the deputy public prosecutor, is determined to solve the case in double-quick time and squeeze in one last vacation before the birth of his first child.
But this murder is trickier than it looks, and Van In soon finds himself in murky waters. The Vermasts’ land belonged to the most prominent businessman in West Flanders before it was suddenly handed over to a right-wing charity. The heavily endowed foundation appears to have no expenditures or investments. So who’s financing it—and why?
Before he knows it, Van In finds himself in the middle of a complex web—one that involves high-level officials, local law enforcement, and common thugs.
This is the third book in a long series of police procedural novels by Belgian author Pieter Aspe. It was originally published in 1997 as De kinderen van Chronos. Open Road Media has published the first three books in English-language translations.

I enjoy reading books that give me a view of how policemen work in other countries. As a proscecutor, Van In's wife Hannelore works directly with the police during an investigation. Van In is a maverick and often goes more on intuition than evidence, but he is known for getting results. He is also cantankerous and moody, with his co-workers and at home. He and his wife are both dealing with the uncertainty of what their life will be like after a child is born.

I really haven't figured out why I like this series so much, but the fact is, I do. The style of writing is not what I am used to, definitely not lyrical, but often subtly humorous. The policemen are not all likable, and have their foibles. Yet they are friends and very loyal to each other. Van In and Hannelore can be very irritating at times, but I like their relationship. They accept each other and support each other.

Of the three books I have read in this series, this book has the least flavor of Bruges, not that I have visited Bruges or am an expert on the subject. The first book did focus a lot on the city of Bruges. and the second featured a cache of treasure from World War II buried nearby. In all three of the novels, corruption in the government and in police and judicial departments is a theme. Some of the crimes covered in this story are pretty sordid, but to say more would tell more of the story than I care to. Thus this series does not fall into the cozyish type of police procedural, even though the husband and wife both work together.

See my reviews of The Square of Revenge and The Midas Murders.

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Publisher:   Open Road Media, 2015 (orig. pub. 1997)
Translator:  Brian Doyle
Length:       336 pages
Format:       e-book
Setting:       Bruges, Belgium
Genre:        Police Procedural
Source:      This book was provided for review by Open Road Integrated Media via NetGalley.


10 comments:

  1. Oh, Tracy, this is one series I've meant to really dive into for some time now, and just...haven't yet. I need to read more Belgian crime fiction, and this is a great way to do it. Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. Margot, I find this series very different, but intriguing.

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  2. I was tempted by this series, but have so far resisted. It would be good to get a taste of some Belgium crime - but really I would struggle to get to it. Glad you enjoyed it - so I'm still a maybe at the minute!

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    1. I am sure you would like it, but you have plenty of other books to read, Col.

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  3. Well, apart from Simenon I know very few Belgian crime authors, so I must give this ago just on principle - thanks Tracy, I shall start with the first as that seems to the best in terms of local flavour.

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    1. I would say I liked the first one best, Sergio. It is worth a try.

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  4. I have visited Bruges a couple of times, and really liked it, so that tempts me, but it sounds as though I should start with an earlier book from the series for more local detail.

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    1. You are so lucky, Moira. If you give them a try, I will be interested to see if he does well with the setting and atmosphere.

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  5. Interesting, Tracy. I might try this series at some point in future. The common theme of corruption in government and police should resonate with me.

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    1. I know what you mean, Prashant. Seems like everywhere you read about corruption in those areas.

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