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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.


Books by Debra Hamel:

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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Kindle | paperback (UK)

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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paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

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
By Debra Hamel


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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
By Debra Hamel


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Baantjer, A.C.: DeKok and the Mask of Death

  Amazon  

4.5 stars

A.C. Baantjer certainly knows how to grab readers at the start of a novel. In the first chapter of DeKok and the Mask of Death, originally published in Dutch in 1987, Inspector DeKok of the Amsterdam police department meets a nervous young man who's lost his girlfriend. The woman had vague complaints of listlessness and was referred by her doctor to a neurologist at Slotervaart Hospital. Her boyfriend drove her to the appointment, waited for her after she was led away by a nurse, and never saw her again. Worse, the nurse subsequently denied ever having seen her, as did the attendant manning the admission desk.

DeKok and his younger partner Vledder ponder the seemingly insoluble case while the number of those disappearing within the hospital's walls increases. Vledder is oddly--not quite credibly--insistent that no one associated with the hospital can be involved in criminal activities. DeKok is more open to the possibility. And he of course figures everything out in time to reveal all to his wife and colleagues over cognac at book's end. The resolution, when it comes, is a little hard to swallow. That's my one substantial complaint about the book. A lesser complaint is that one character's dialogue is written in a horrible dialect--at least in the English translation--that is the literary equivalent of nails on a chalkboard: "Iffen youse gotta distant look inna yer glimmers, there is somethin' special goin'. Ain't I right?" Happily this particular character doesn't get a lot of lines.

In the author's description on the back of the book, Baantjer is described as the "Dutch Conan Doyle." I would disagree. DeKok isn't Sherlockian at all. He's a character more like Colin Dexter's Morse--believably human (unlike Sherlock), humane, given to going off alone to brood about work, but not tragically lonely in the way Morse is, nor elitist. I'm very happy to have discovered the DeKok series--happier still that it includes some sixty novels.

Comments

1.

Sixty novels! Wow - that's going to keep you going for a bit. Great review - and sounds like a really intriguing book.

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