By: A.C. Baantjer
Publisher: Speck Press
Publication Date: July 2009
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: September 1, 2009
What happens when young women, feeling listless and fatigued, check into a local hospital but never check out? When the hospital denies all knowledge of the women, even to those men who accompanied them to the hospital? Enter Inspector DeKok, a determined police investigator who proudly notes that he’s solved “almost all my cases.”
DeKok (pronounced, as he frequently reminds others “with a kay-oh-kay”) and his young, impulsive partner Vledder, are working in the police station when a very agitated man, Richard Netherwood, cautiously enters. He explains to DeKok that his fiancée, Rosalind, checked into the Slotervaart Hospital but never came out. Even worse, the hospital staff denies all knowledge of Rosalind. DeKok starts an investigation but soon he and Vledder begin to suspect that perhaps Rosalind never entered the hospital or maybe slipped out, with the staffs’ assistance, and disappeared as a cowardly way to dump Richard. But when a pimp reports a missing “employee,” Annie, the investigation takes a quick turn. Soon two more young women are reported missing, all under eerily similar circumstances. The investigation heats up and the chase is on.
DeKok and The Mask of Death is part of the popular Dutch “Inspector DeKok Investigates” series. With 60 DeKok books available in the original Dutch, this series has proven quite popular in the Netherlands. Now being translated into English, these books lose little in the translation. DeKok is much like Columbo (he even has a dog), who slowly and methodically goes about solving his case. His impetuous partner Vledder constantly makes snap judgments and leads the reader astray with frequent miscalculations. It is up to DeKok to calmly uncover missed clues and solve the case of the missing girls.
It is a rare detective story that keeps the reader guessing up till the very end but DeKok and The Mask of Death successfully pulls it off. Baantjer, a former detective for the Amsterdam police, knows what it takes to make a good crime novel and he delivers. There are more twists and turns in this book that a crazy rollercoaster ride.
Quill says: Once you read DeKok and the Mask of Death, you’ll be hooked on this fun, fast-paced detective series.