The Dutchman

When his German publisher requested a thriller from Matthijs Deen, already known for his books on the Wadden Sea and the Rhine, he more than rose to the challenge with 'The Dutchman'.

Mathijs Deen
Original title
De Hollander

Sergeant Major Geeske Dobbenga heads out on the patrol boat RV180 one last time before it is superseded by a more agile fleet of inflatables. On De Hond, a sandbank in the Wadden Sea, they find the dead body of a man who has likely drowned in an attempt to reach the German island of Borkum by crossing the Wadden Sea on foot during low tide.

Since this particular sandbank lies on disputed territory on the Dutch-German border, the police of both countries become involved. Down-to-earth, pragmatic Sergeant Major Dobbenga, and her German colleague Lothar see their bosses butting heads and decide that help from an intermediary is needed to get the investigation off the ground.

This marks the start of German inspector Liewe Cupido’s involvement. Cupido, nicknamed The Dutchman by his colleagues, grew up on the Dutch island Texel, the son of a German marine ecologist and a Dutch fisherman.

Cupido soon discovers that Klaus Smyrna, the man on the sandbank, did not die of natural causes; the autopsy reveals a blow to the back of his head. Smyrna, Aron Reinhard and Peter Lattewitz made up a well-known threesome of tidal flat hikers. Cupido asks the right questions: why wasn’t Aron part of the expedition? And how come his body was found upstream from the crossing route?

Deen shows himself to be an accomplished thriller writer, with convincingly, astutely drawn characters, and with his knowledge of the Wadden Sea, its currents and sands, seamlessly drawn into the story. With Inspector Cupido and the coastal zone near the Wadden Islands, Deen has found his own Kurt Wallander and Skåne. He is already at work on a sequel.

There are so many crime novels out there it’s almost macabre – almost every possible story has been told at this point, but not in every possible way. Mathijs Deen is a writer who has found a way of storytelling wholly his own.

Frankfurter Rundschau

A story about German and Dutch affairs, borders and power. None of that affects the tide – but it does affect the reader.

Welt am Sonntag
Mathijs Deen
Mathijs Deen (b. 1962) writes non-fiction, short stories and novels. In 2013, his book 'The Wadden Islands' was published to critical acclaim and sold over 30,000 copies.
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