Ingenious and totally absorbing
Maarten ’t Hart’s new novel The Sundial, is engrossing. It opens with the central character, Leonie Kuyper, attending the funeral of her best friend Roos Berczy, who has died of sunstroke. Leonie has always felt somewhat overshadowed by Roos. Although both were good-looking, Roos was far more striking than Leonie and a brilliant pharmacological research assistant to boot. Roos turns out to have made Leonie her sole heir, provided that she moves into Roos’ apartment and cares for her cats. Naturally she is eager to fulfill her best friend’s last wishes. Leonie, an impoverished translator, becomes the owner of a beautiful apartment, a large portfolio of common stocks, and an expensive wardrobe.
Gradually Leonie assumes Roos’ identity. By wearing her clothes and make-up, she begins to resemble her deceased friend ever more closely. Partly as a result, Roos’ past starts to crowd in on Leonie. There are telephone calls from and later meetings with Fred, a construction worker, who can’t believe that Roos died a natural death. Questions arise that demand answers. What brought the elegant Roos into contact with Fred and his friends? How could such a sun worshipper have died of sunstroke? Her curiosity piqued, Leonie starts looking for answers and reveals herself to be a first-rate detective. ’t Hart casually increases the tension by expanding the riddles. Was Roos, a chemist, involved in the manufacture of the illegal drug Ecstasy? But Leonie is also confronted with the possibility that Roos had information about the falsification of research findings and might have been murdered by a colleague. And then there’s the riddle of exactly how Roos died. In the meantime the murderer, alarmed by Leonie’s detective work, swings into action – and a startling denouement follows. The Sundial is ingenious and totally absorbing.