Charles den Tex

Schijn van kans

A strong woman fights back

A few years ago, when Aad Jacobs, former CEO of the ING Group, appeared on a Dutch television show, he was offered a challenge: if he could come up with the plot of a thriller, the show would find a writer for the book. Jacobs accepted the challenge and devised a plot in which a small Dutch investment bank manages to land a major deal: the takeover of an American cable company by a larger Dutch cable company. The dealmaker himself, however, never gets to finalize the deal.

Writer Charles den Tex developed the plot into the thriller Chance in Hell. The head of the small investment bank, Standard Capital, is Ernst Dellenge. He’s an ambitious man, anxious to break into the big league. Motivated not by money, but by glory and the thrill of the game, he lands a job that’s actually too big for Standard Capital. It takes every contact and trick Dellenge knows, but then he’s unexpectedly routed. An accidental fall in the bathroom proves fatal, but the reader knows better. This was no accident.

From that moment on, Chance in Hell focuses on the real main character, and the suspense mounts in earnest. Young Matti van der Donk takes over the negotiations, but is thwarted at every turn – because she’s young, because she hasn’t yet mastered the tricks of the trade, because she’s a woman, because she isn’t unscrupulous enough.

In a mad rush, she marshals ‘endless facts, figures and statistics,’ whips herself into a frenzy of creativity and launches an all-out offensive to save the takeover deal. Popping pills to stay awake, she ignores both the clock and her body. However, the head of the Dutch firm, like that of the American one, owes his position to family ties. To get her foot in the door Matti has to rely on her own wits and psychological insight – always stay one step ahead of the game – even when she runs into fraud and feels the sharp edge of a stiletto pressed to her spine.

The book is impressive, not just for its fast pace, but also for the cool vitality of the language in which the story unfolds. The understated humour – ‘The more expensive a suit is, the more fun it is to cut it up’ – makes this financial thriller an entertaining read from beginning to end.

Like Michael Crichton, Den Tex knows how to cleverly wrap up a current social problem in an exciting story, while the technical information never becomes annoying.

NRC Handelsblad

A book packed with refined dialogue and adroit descriptions of ambience and setting. It is an elegantly structured work that conducts the reader in a sophisticated way towards a captivating and thrilling finale. It not only offers a fascinating narrative but also initiates the reader, almost imperceptibly, in matters incomprehensible to ordinary mortals.

Jury Report, Golden Noose Prize

Charles den Tex

Charles den Tex (b. 1952) is the Netherlands’ leading thriller writer. His work has won all the major prizes in crime fiction and has been translated into several languages. He was born in Camberwell (Australia) in 1952 and moved to the Netherlands in 1958. In London he studied photography and…

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Schijn van kans (2002). Fictie, 288 pagina's.


English (PDF document)


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