Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Night Market by Daniel Pembrey

Detective Henk van der Pol #2
Publisher: No Exit Press
Buy links: No Exit Press | Amazon | Amazon UK


When Henk van der Pol is asked by the Justice Minister to infiltrate a team investigating an online child exploitation network, he can hardly say no - he's at the mercy of prominent government figures in The Hague. But he soon realises the case is far more complex than he was led to believe... Picking up from where The Harbour Master ended, this new investigation sees Detective Van der Pol once again put his life on the line as he wades the murky waters between right and wrong in his search for justice.

Sometimes, to catch the bad guys, you have to think like one. . .

My thoughts

“Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes into you…” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Let me start with a warning: I feel you should really read The Harbour Master, the prequel to Night Market, before picking this book up. More often than not when I read a later book in a series I get away with it. There may be one or two nuances I miss, but overall my lack of prior knowledge doesn’t bother me. The experience while reading Night Market was almost the exact opposite. I was, at times painfully, aware that I just didn’t know enough.

Don’t get me wrong. Even with my less than good understanding of exactly what was going on, this was a riveting page-turner of a story. And there’s a lot to praise this book for. Henk van der Pol is a fascinating and well rounded protagonist. He is very real, at times painfully so. I didn’t always agree with his decisions and actions but I did understand where he was coming from, what drove him. The secondary characters are given as much attention and most of them are memorable, although none more than Henk himself.

Amsterdam was described really well in this book, even if sections of it took place in parts of the city that have been reclaimed from the water since I left. The author's biography told me he lives (part-time) in Amsterdam and that didn't surprise me at all. The way my hometown came to life on the pages would be hard to achieve by anyone who hadn't spend a significant amount of time there.

This is not what I would call a linear mystery or thriller in which a crime leads to clues which eventually provide a solution. This thriller presents us with a conglomerate of crimes and conspiracies which may or may not be connected to each other. We move back and forth and an answer here only leads to more and different questions over there.

That of course is what made this book almost impossible to put down. There aren’t any real quiet moments in this story. The narrative continuously pushes the characters forwards, into at times impossible situations, and the reader has no choice but to follow, even if it is into nasty territory. Because this story does deal with the ugly underbelly of our society. While nothing is depicted in graphic detail, Night Market does deal with subjects that may be hard to read about for some. Of course, it is exactly the nastiness of the crimes Henk is trying to solve that it’s almost impossible to put the book down as he comes ever closer to the truth. Still, no matter how much the book hooked me, I can’t help wondering how much more I would have gotten out of it if I’d read its prequel first.

So, when I give this book stars it’s in the full knowledge that I’m probably subtracting one star for something that’s not actually the book’s or the author’s fault. And I promise right now that I will read The Harbour Master before the third Henk van der Pol Investigation book is released.

On a personal note I have to admit that Night Market depicts Amsterdam as darker, and a lot more violent than I (like to) remember it.

I received my copy of this book from No Exit Press through Real Readers.

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