A thriller of social circumstance
During a school reunion, an English teacher is murdered. There are no witnesses and apparently no motive. While the police launch a search for the killer on the basis of extremely unsubstantial evidence, the reader is given insight into the aftermath, into the private lives of those participating in the reunion. The psychological tension between two of these former students, who rather hastily decide to start living together, is a particularly interesting aspect.
While other thrillers are based around a central protagonist, this one investigates the cosmos around the crime, the playground mothers and pub regulars with their domestic problems, the unimportance and unhappiness of the common man.
With its story of the disruption of everyday routines, this thriller can be compared to the bestsellers of Saskia Noort and Simone van der Vlugt, but Dijkzeul writes her story from a more adult perspective, placing the emphasis on the psychology of the characters. The uprooted widower who leads the police investigation is a fascinating individual. With his love of classical music and Dutch literature, his adult daughter who no longer lives at home, and his cat, the grieving Paul Vegter is perhaps the most flamboyant character in the book.
Dijkzeul’s craftsmanship is a joy and a relief. She uses short sentences and straightforward metaphors to create a credible fictional world: ‘It was painfully clean. “No one lives here,” Vegter thought, “it’s just accommodation”.’ Going by this unusual first fruit, Lieneke Dijkzeul will be the first Dutch thriller author who can genuinely compete with the successful social realism of the Scandinavians.