The Sixth of May
A tense and exciting political thriller
On 6 may 2002, two weeks before a General Election, Volkert van der Graaf assassinated Pim Fortuyn, the populist politician who was set to win and become Prime Minister of the Netherlands. This act of political violence shook pacifist, tolerant Netherlands to its core. The assassin was immediately arrested and was convicted, yet the investigation into the killing left several fundamental questions unresolved. Was he acting alone as the court decided? If so, how come the police were on the scene so quickly? Recordings of telephone conversations show that the security service was aware of the attack beforehand; so why didn’t they intervene? From these facts Tomas Ross, three-time winner of the Golden Noose, has woven a tense and exciting political thriller, backed by the thorough research for which he has rightly become famous.
The story opens with the release of Anke Luyten who, three years previously, had been one of a group who freed apes from a research laboratory. During the break-in a guard was shot dead. Anke hadn’t shot him but she was the only one to be caught, and was sentenced as an accessory for murder. When she comes out of prison, the security service pressure her to infiltrate the circle of former fellow environmental-activists Peter Heemskerk and Volkert van der Graaf. The latter is suspected of murdering an environmental officer, as well as of preparing a new attack – the target isn’t yet known. Meanwhile Anke’s Turkish neighbour Erdogan Demir falls in love with her. When she goes undercover, Demir tracks her down, along with press photographer Jim de Booy. All this time Fortuyn’s popularity has been rapidly on the rise and he is having an unpredictable impact on the voters, the media and the election campaign, upsetting the Dutch political consensus and breaking taboos, notably in making immigration one of the key points of his campaign. We see the effects of this through De Booy, the press photographer, and Demir the immigrant.
Ross brings Anke, Demir and De Booy together at the scene of the assassination, Demir trying to save Anke from being killed, De Booy hoping to become famous by photographing the assassination. Yet did they actually witness the attack? The assassin may not have been working alone. A defence contract and billions of euros are at stake; there are others who want Fortuyn out of the way.
As maverick politician, Pim Fortuyn shook consensual Netherlands from its torpor, and his assassination sent shock waves through Dutch society. This tersely written thriller by prize-winning Tomas Ross is both exciting and alarming. It has international appeal.