|Hideous cover art!
One might be tempted to call this DeKok and the Handbook for Poisoners as it is entirely preoccupied with poisons as a means of murder for the first third of the book. It is the fifth or sixth book I have read this year in which hydrocyanic acid is used to kill a victim and the third or fourth book which once again goes into a lengthy discussion on the uses of the chemical in photography, as a pesticide, and other industrial purposes. There is a chapter in which DeKok and the younger policeman Dick Vledder discuss the variety of poisons, the ability to discover it in a corpse during autopsy, why the heavy metals linger in the human body and other poisons are harder to trace, etc. etc. Because I have been reading far too many books with poison as the means this was all a little tiresome to me. But I continued going because DeKok himself is an engaging character.
DeKok -- who loves to spell his name in these English translations "with kay-oh-kay" -- is hard not to like. Alternately irascible and affable he's sharp witted, good humored and wastes no time in getting to the heart of whatever case he is working on. Here he is challenged to unmask the devious killer among a spiritualist society. During the middle of their weekly seance at the home of the blind medium Jennifer Jordan one of the members drops dead. The victim, known as Black Julie among the circle, appears to have not a single enemy yet her death uncovers some interesting secrets, notably her real name which turns out to be Jane Truffle.
|Victor Reiner (l.) & Piet Römer as Vledder & DeKok
|Orig Dutch edition - there's a familiar face, eh?
This is an interesting series that I may sample more of in the months ahead. It took a while for me to warm up to DeKok but I can now appreciate him after completing Murder in Seance. It's easy to see how he and his creator enjoyed a long life as one of the best loved characters in Dutch crime fiction. I'm glad we have been allowed to sample nearly all of his books in these English translations.