A compelling drama, featuring sharp social criticism, in the direct style of a crime novel
De PG is set in 1999, although it was published in 1998. The book was inspired by the scandals in which the Belgian judicial authorities have become embroiled in the past few years, including the Dutroux affair, the Nijvel Gang, and the ‘hormone mafia’. As a result, it reads more like a documentary or docudrama than a crime novel.
Clearly, Geeraerts is trying to point up the present state of the Belgian judicial system, by focusing on the personal lives of the various characters. First we have the Procurator General Albert Savelkoul who, despite the fact that he is no longer young and is having problems with his prostate and his mistress, is convinced that he is one of the five most important men in Belgium, and that his power and his position are invincible. Then there is his wife, a member of the Belgian nobility brought up according to the strictest Catholic traditions, who has set her sights on a title for her son. To that end, she has enlisted the help of the powerful sect-like organization Opus Dei. The leaders of Opus Dei also come in for a close examination. Not only do they live according to a strict regime and if necessary, are prepared to suppress their passions by self-castigation, they also believe that when it comes to furthering the aims of the organization the end justifies the means.
Thus in return for a title, they require Savelkoul’s wife to transfer all her possessions to Opus Dei. When they discover that Savelkoul has not only a mistress, but also a secret Swiss bank account withthe ‘earnings’ from previous transactions with the underworld, he is an excellent candidate for blackmail. The novel revolves around this blackmail, which is a guarantee of excitement and suspense: Geeraerts shows us what life is like in the highest circles, where corruption, paranoia and cynicism are rife.
Against this background, the tragic hero is Savelkoul himself, largely oblivious to the plans for his downfall, too blind to see that the world has turned against him. This will cost him his life. De PG is a compelling historical drama in the Shakespearean mode, combined with a healthy dose of social criticism and told in the direct style of a crime novel.