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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


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THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
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Noort, Saskia: The Dinner Club


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4 stars

After Karen moved into the village from Amsterdam with her husband, Michel, and their two daughters, it took her a while to make friends. But finally she found Hanneke, and through her three other woman, and the five of them became fast friends. They dubbed themselves "The Dinner Club" and became a mutual support group--they drank and ate and vacationed together, watched one another's kids. Their husbands did business together. But when the book opens one of their houses is on fire. Someone dies. And the tragedy, together with another which follows shortly afterward, lays bare various truths, among them that the relationships among the members of the Club are more superficial than Karen had supposed. Nor were the members' five marriages as happy as she had supposed.

Saskia Noort's The Dinner Club follows the downward trajectory of the Club's relationships. As things disintegrate, Karen comes increasingly to suspect that the fire was fueled by something more than middle-aged angst and alcohol. The book is filled with a quiet menace, and Noort does a great job of keeping us guessing, our suspicions alighting now on one character, now another. After this slow, steady build-up of tension the book's conclusion, an explosion of violence, is jarring. It doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the book. The conclusion also left me thinking I might have to re-read some chapters to figure out what, precisely, was the truth behind the complex of relationships among the five Dinner Club members and their husbands.

The Dinner Club, which was originally pubished in Dutch in 2004, has been a best-seller in the Netherlands, and film rights to the book have been sold. It would, I think, translate well to the screen.

Comments

1.

This sounds like it would make a really tense thriller. I always wonder how it's best to end this sort of book - where the build-up has been so riveting.

2.

Definitely putting this one on my list! Have shared your post to our Friend Feed crime&mystery room (please join!). Bitter Lemon is an excellent small publisher. One of their authors is Gianrico Carofiglio who writes lovely books, most about a lawyer in the Italian city of Bali. Highly recommended.

3.

Thank to both of you! Clare: I'm not sure what would have worked better. It just seemed to morph suddenly into a different sort of book.

Maxine, you are so much more knowledgeable about crime fiction than I. And you read a lot of translated stuff, I think. Do you have a lot of conversation on FriendFeed? I've kind of forgotten about it after having made some feeds available over there.

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