Review Blog

Dec 12 2017

A cold case in Amsterdam Central by Anja de Jager

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Constable, 2017. ISBN 9781472120649
(Age: Secondary to adult) Recommended. Themes: Crime. Amsterdam. Cold case. World War Two. Sympathisers. This is a wonderful concoction of a crime thriller set in a totally different environment, Amsterdam, with its canals, polders and tulips. Detective Lotte Meermon is back after four months off police work after being shot. Some do not want her back, and actively encourage her to go, while others are giving her the benefit of the doubt. But here again, she rubs people up the wrong way, insisting that the death of a painter at a building site was not an accident. When his wife of six months finds a locker ticket Lotte is called to help but finds the bag in the locker contains bones. Lotte is sure there is more to the death that appears, even though her partner, Thomas is unconvinced.
With a single-mindedeness seen in Saga Noren from 'The bridge', Lotte ploughs on, following leads that seem to come from fresh air. Forensic examination of the bones reveal them to be from the war, and the DNA matches them to a public prosecutor, brought up on stories of her heroic grandfather, killed by the Nazis for his work with the resistance, but the forensic examiner has also found a spare arm, the DNA linking him to a crime boss not seen for some years. Thomas follows the leads in this part of the investigation, eager to excel with such a big case, leaving Lotte to follow the painter's death, but the two coincide, bringing in a range of people from Lotte's youth when she helped find the killer of her friend Anges, when she was ten. Now that her mother has broken her wrist and is staying with her, the antipathy between them adds another level of comment into the story, comparing it with the fate of several other older parents involved in the case.
Lotte is a fascinating character through this book, revealing snippets of herself, and her past, but certainly saying what she thinks, to the sometimes astonishment of those around her.
This is an involving sequel to A cold death in Amsterdam (2015) and a third book is about to be published. I love reading crime novels set in new places, and with a character as complex as Lotte, the series will please.
Fran Knight

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