Things I Love in a Book

Two things I love in books = regional quirks in mysteries + pet Siamese cats, so I fell really hard several years ago for Janwillem van de Wetering’s Amsterdam Cops series (which I passed on to my husband, who also loved it). If you’ re in need of a delightful, new-to-you bunch of reads (they’re pretty easy to find online), check them out: the author was both an actual policeman and a Zen student who spent a year in a monastery, and his crime novels (mostly published in the ’70s) are a delightfully wholesome Dutch version of TRUE DETECTIVE, where instead of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson you get this weird and very philosophical buddy series about a roly-poly old family-man cop who partners with a flashy ladies’ man in denim suits (he has the Siamese cat, Oliver), and when they’re not solving crimes they just kind of wordlessly meet up at the office and jam on some drums the older cup seized in a case and a flute the younger cop carries in his denim suit?? In one of the books, if memory serves, a witness joins in on a groove session.

To quote a review of the first book in the series, “As long-time fans know, Outsider in Amsterdam, like other van de Wetering mysteries, is not a book to read for excitement, violence, or catharsis. It’s a ‘soft- boiled’ mystery to engage one’s brain and evoke the easy-going and permissive attitude of 1970s Amsterdam and of its two famous fictional cops, who are amazingly chilled-out and who treat everyone, including suspects and criminals, with respect and decency.”

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