House of Dolls – David Hewson

Pieter Vos is a defective detective, burdened by terrible guilt at the failure to solve the mystery of the disappearance of his 16 year old daughter Anneliese Vos. Having left the force, he spends his time pretending to renovate his houseboat, and sitting at the Rijksmuseum, staring at a doll’s house that might be significant in his daughter’s disappearance. Then, another young girl goes missing in Amsterdam, this time the daughter of the mayor, and there seem to be some similarities. With the city standing on the edge of a war as two criminal gangs strive for supremacy, the police boss decides Vos is needed as the only man who can find the missing girl. A raw trainee detective, Laura Bakker, is sent to persuade him, and the first encounter is not promising. Of course, eventually he is tempted back, and he and Bakker get stuck in to the investigation.

I was impressed with the storytelling, and the characterization, with the Amsterdam locale providing a solid foundation for the blood and guts that occurs as the tale is told. The portrait of one of the drug barons is enthralling, and the interaction between him and Vos is tense and involving. And there are plenty of twists to shock and surprise.

This is an excellent crime novel; a well crafted, taut, exciting read.

I had never heard of the author before this book, but see that he has a chunky back catalog. I’m looking forward to exploring more of his work.