The Sympathetic Side of Crime
Felix Thijssen’s books are irresistible. He writes beautifully, his plots are easy to follow although they have enough unexpected twists to keep up the tension, and his protagonists show depth and character development. He has written quite a row of books - a series about a friendly criminal, and one about a private detective - but his latest work, Deep Water takes a different turn.
Young Francine dreams of sailing around the world with her father. They are completely prepared, except that they lack the necessary funds. Meanwhile, the clock’s ticking because father Gerard is ageing. His beloved daughter does odd jobs for a friend, a dodgy character, to raise the money, and things get out of hand when she thinks she can make it big.
Yet again Felix Thijssen has chosen to depict the sympathetic aspect of crime. Francine, a woman only twenty years old, manages to climb out of the deep hole she’s fallen into, without any help. The father-daughter relationship runs like a thread through the book. Francine undertakes the shady jobs to make money for the sailing trip, and she does it for her father; it is for Francine that her father ends up in jail. Then when they find out that he has terminal cancer, Francine plans to rescue him. Her goal is simple: he wanted to live on a boat, and therefore will make sure that he dies on a boat.
The plot is well-developed and plausible, and logically structured. The dialogue is sharp, the characters strong, the descriptions evocative, and the suspense is built up. Deep Water is a book that can compete with those of Nicci French: just as interesting, just as addictive…
In Deep Water, Felix Thijssen has set aside his protagonist Max Winter. This works out well. The psychological bond between twenty-year-old Francine and her father Gerard is complicated enough without any private detective interfering. The sailing trip that father and daughter want to make is foiled by circumstances, not least by Gerard’s unjustly landing up in prison. So there is work for the enterprising Francine to do. Thijssen has developed into an excellent stylist. Added to the complex intrigue and the memorable character of the protagonist, this leads to a top quality thriller.