Sea of Insanity
Murder on the Loony Logger: a hair-raising novel about religious mania on a fishing boat
‘Arend pushes the arms and legs apart with his foot and starts to hack the limbs from the torso. He manages to sever the arms from the body with a few telling blows; it is just the legs that give him more trouble.’ ‘The Devil has tough legs,’ murmurs the hero.
The year is 1915; grizzly scenes are taking place on board the Noordster. The crew of the fishing boat, which has become known as the Loony Logger, is caught up in a frenzy of religious mania. Three of them are slaughtered like beasts, because they are thought to be possessed by the Devil. Adrift and floating aimlessly, the rest of the crew imagine themselves to be on their way to Jerusalem, to appear before God’s throne, now that the end is nigh.
The instigator of the lunacy is Arend Falkenier, a simple but dominant and charismatic sailor, who considers himself to be God’s chosen one. He has been ‘miraculously touched by the Lord’, as one of the sailors so biblically puts it. The ship hails from a small, isolated fishermen’s community on the North Sea coast of the Netherlands. The people are devoted to Calvinism, a belief that is strict and obsessed with sin, and assumes that man is predestined. On Sundays the ministers preach hell and damnation from the pulpit.
In this novel, Robert Haasnoot painstakingly and convincingly reconstructs the historical events that took place on board the Noordster and shocked people so much at the time. Basing his work on a number of medical reports and eye-witness accounts which were long kept secret, it is the author’s imagination, in particular, that brings this exceptional story to life. Faultlessly, with a great feeling for detail, Haasnoot succeeds in giving a convincing explanation of what drove the fishermen to commit such deeds. That requires a great deal of empathy not only with psychology, but also with religion and history. Waanzee proves that Haasnoot possesses this in abundance.