Pirates of the Caribbean with a twist
In his much-acclaimed novel, Eeuwige stranden (Never-ending Beaches), Chris Rippen transports his readers to the Caribbean where he immerses them in the steamy moodiness of modern buccaneering. With this evocative and atmospheric book, he keeps pace with Frank Martinus Arion and Tip Marugg, the literary ambassadors of the Dutch-language Antilles.
The main character, Murk Stuart, is asked to track down a former acquaintance - fugitive drug dealer Xander Bijlefeld. He accepts the assignment since it will allow him to be reunited with his brother Victor, part of Bijlefeld’s entourage. In Martinique he is thrown in with a rowdy gang of anarchistic seamen who regard him with total mistrust. Stuart is tricked, abused and given erroneous information, until he eventually becomes disenchanted with the entire venture.
The particular tranquillity of the Caribbean is misleading, certainly in Rippen’s work. The author wrong-foots the reader in his carefully embroidered plot and only when the story moves to the more familiar climes of the Netherlands does it become apparent that Stuart has joined up with the pirates. Up until the very end, Rippen manages to sustain both the main plot and the true events behind a handful of subplots, ultimately unfurling these in a remarkable manner.
Rippen is a composed, exceptional stylist who knows how to make the unbearable heat tangible. But he is also an excellent thriller writer who can captivate the interest of his readers throughout his novels. Eeuwige stranden is a splendid psychological thriller, an ingenious book with an attractive atmosphere of humour and romance.