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Thriller set in Amsterdam and Alkmaar, the Netherlands

2nd November 2016

A Cold Death in Amsterdam  by Anja de Jager – thriller set in Amsterdam and Alkmaar.


This is the first book in a series featuring Amsterdam detective Lotte Meerman. Lotte is a severely damaged, but utterly believable, young woman. She works for the Cold Case squad of Amsterdam police. She has recently solved the 15 year old mystery of the murder of an 8 year old girl. But the investigation, and her unprofessional personal involvement in the course it, have left her in pieces. She let her private needs and feelings impinge on her police duties. She finds it hard to sleep…

Driving around one night (when she can’t sleep), she witnesses a botched hold up at a filling station. She shoots and wounds the perpetrator in self defence. As a police officer this is not an issue, except that it preys on her mind – the perpetrator was young and vulnerable.

In the course of interviewing the young man, she is given information which may be relevant to the Cold Case enquiry into a 10-year old murder of a recently released from prison financier. Any leads had long since gone dead. Amsterdam police had requested the passing over of various files from Alkmaar police so they could investigate further, but these had mysteriously disappeared. Lotte is involved on the case and her father, Piet Huizen (also a policeman) had been the investigating Alkmaar detective at the time. She, for various reasons, suspects her father of being part of a cover up – and she believes she has found a reason for his behaviour. She should, of course, reveal her potential clash of interests to her superiors, but she does not. As the net begins to tighten around her ‘omission’, she has no choice but to try and find the murderer before she is compromised.

There are two key suspects, the two partners of the murdered financier. Both have much to gain from his disappearance (one was in fact having an affair with his wife – whom he subsequently married). But the investigation 10 years previously has not been able to tie either of them to the murder – largely because of the missing files.

The book moves through Amsterdam and Alkmaar to a chilling conclusion. Chilling as in frightening and chilling as in cold. The book is set in the depths of winter, with snow on the ground and temperatures down to -10C. In TripFiction terms it is quite brilliant in its descriptions of both cities. Lotte lives by a canal in central Amsterdam – you feel you are there as the snow falls and the temperature drops, and the ice begins to form.

A Cold Death in Amsterdam is a really good and well worked thriller, but it is also a lot more. Anja de Jager is an expert in describing the family relationships that tie Lotte both to her divorced mother and to her father (whom she had not seen for years until the investigation re-opens). Lotte is not a happy bunny – either in her personal family life or in her work. She struggles to find the will to stay alive… and nearly fails. As I said at the beginning, she is damaged but believable, and also someone with whom we can empathise.

A Cold Death in Amsterdam is a book that sticks in the mind, and to which you return. It is beautifully written. It is not, though, translated. Anja, although a native Dutch speaker, lives and works in London. I am in awe.

Tony for the TripFiction team

You can follow Anja on Twitter, Facebook and via her website

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For more books set in AMSTERDAM click here 

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