De hand van God
The Story of a Failed Assault
Tomas Ross must be the fastest writer in The Netherlands. While working on a trilogy about the Second World War, the resistance, and Prince Bernhard, he wrote - as an aside - The Hand of God, about the preparations for an attack on Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the female politician who, until the summer of 2006, was a member of parliament and constantly under police protection due to threats to her life.
The borderline between fact and fiction gives a certain force to this thriller as to all Tomas Ross’ books, like in his previous novel De zesde mei (‘The Sixth of May’, 2003), about the murder of politician Pim Fortuyn in 2002.
The hand of God is partly a homage to his favourite book, the classic The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth. In Ross’s novel the hit man is Danish and is paid by an obscure group (which incidentally, has nothing to do with Jihad or anything like that). Like the Jackal, the Hand of God fails to fulfill his assignment. In a sizzling finale that takes place beside the Israeli embassy in The Hague, the assault is foiled at the last minute. That was to be expected. De Gaulle was not assassinated and Hirsi Ali is still very much alive. It is exactly because the ending fits reality that the story is so credible, which is what it is all about for this author of the faction genre.
Despite the thematic similarity to Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal, The Hand of God is a completely authentic book. The planned assault on Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the author’s idea, but the story feels as real as the volumes that have been published so far of the trilogy Voor koningin en vaderland (‘For Queen and Country’). Both the preparations for the assault and the gradual unveiling of the perpetrator prove Ross’s great craftsmanship.