De duim van Alva
Sensation at Antwerp Fair
Portraying humanity as a drama full of horror is going rather far for an exciting book. Blood flows through Antwerp when the annual Whitsun Fair is in full swing. Every year, aggression during the festival weeks seems to reach a great climax. Is this because of the noisy commotion, the people enticed by the attractions – or has it got to do with the past? The fair is held on the square where the Duke of Alba had his citadel built at the beginning of the Eighty Years War – the Iron Duke who, according to reports, inflicted a terrible and agonising death on eighteen thousand Netherlanders.
Kisling and Verhuyck have made a fascinating novel out of these facts. The journalist Reyziger wants to make a series of narratives about the fair. He doesn’t believe at all that the past can have so great an influence on the present, but gradually he too is caught up in the horror of the violence. The writing duo make no concessions to the thriller genre, remaining faithful to their novelistic writing style. The result of this is evident: in fine strokes of the pen people are delineated, situations outlined, narratives told. Alva’s Thumb thereby deserves its own place in the flourishing genre of Dutch crime novels.