Sunday, June 24, 2018

DeKok & Murder by Installment: Review

DeKok & Murder by Installment (1985) by A. C. Baantjer finds Inspector DeKok a bit disgruntled at the beginning of the novel. Not that this is unusual. The older cop has an allergy to the new-fangled things that have been trying to encroach on his well-worn methods. He's never really got used to buzzing around in cars--he didn't mind riding a police bicycle. He liked writing up his reports in long hand and now the department wants them submitted on computer-written pages. And that's where we, the readers come in, Baantjer is complaining about how much more work the computer reports are (not for him, of course--he wangles it so his younger partner Vledder does the honors)--that handwritten reports encouraged officers to be straightforward and succinct resulting in shorter reports and less work. Vledder argues that now he can write up once and print out all the copies needed for various departments and senior officers rather than copying it out by hand every time.

As he and Vledder debate the merits of the computing age, the watch commander Kuster comes along with something new for DeKok to be disgruntled about. An eighteen-year-old boy has been brought in on a cocaine charge and DeKok & Vledder are the only detectives available at that time of night so DeKok's protests that this is a job for narcotics fall on deaf ears. But then his own ears perk up when Kuster mentions that the boy also had huge amounts of money (translated by our 2006 translator as "a hundred thousand Euros" which doesn't jibe with the 1980s) taped around his waist. DeKok wants to know what a boy that age is doing with that much cash. His curiosity leads him and Vledder into a case with a series of sinister murders which are somehow connected to the boy and his money...and his brother who soon dies from AIDS.

Various members of a golfing club begin to die--each bashed over the head by an oddly-shaped weapon. It's no spoiler to tell you that it's a golf club--even the most dense reader must figure that out before DeKok. Yes, dear reader, the members of the golf club are done in by a golf club. Is there special significance in that? I'll never tell. What DeKok and Vledder must discover is what is the connection between the young men and the dead men. Why were the men wearing necklaces with the wrong astrological sign? And why has the murderer targeted them?

This is another interesting entry in this series from the Netherlands. Plenty of background color. Several quirky local characters. The mystery isn't breath-takingly original but DeKok is and he and Vledder are really what makes these books. I enjoy DeKok's methods and his peculiar take on police work. Good solid ★★  effort. 

[Finished on 5/30/18. One of these days I'm going to get caught up on my reviews....]


TomCat said...

Sorry for the late response, but only just got around to reading your post. Anyway, glad to read you're enjoying the work of my late compatriot and it was this series was introduction to the detective genre. Baantjer was the one who's responsible for turning me into the mystery junkie you see before you today. :)

By the way, Baantjer worked for three decades as a police officer and homicide detective at Bureau Warmoesstraat. He also wrote a lot about his time with the police, but those anecdotal stories have never been translated into English.

Bev Hankins said...

Thanks for stopping by, TomCat. No worries about the late response...I'm so far behind that I'm just now seeing this.

I enjoy the Baantjer mysteries very much--I only have a few of them though, so I'm rationing myself until I get more. :-)