Pieter Aspe is the pseudonym of Pierre Aspeslag. He studied Latin sciences at the Sint-Leocollege in Bruges. After his degree in literature he followed for a short period the degree in sociology. He then worked as a storekeeper, salesman, employee, seasonal agent at the maritime police, photographer, tutor, wine merchant and concierge at Heilig-Bloedkapel in Bruges. Since 1996 he has been a full-time writer of detective novels.
A young woman is found dead in the canal outside her Bruges apartment building. But what seems like a clear-cut suicide evolves into something much more complex when Commissioner Pieter Van In uncovers the girl’s involvement in a satanic sect. Who is the mysterious Venex, and why does he inspire such devotion from his disciples?
Complicating the investigation further, Van In’s boss allows beautiful journalist Saartje Maes to profile the case, sparking tension with the commissioner’s expectant wife, District Attorney Hannelore Martens. As a horrific tragedy shocks the city, Van In seems to be surrounded by secrets. And though exposing them will lead him to the truth, it will also pit him against the very police force to which he’s devoted his life.
A Belgian national bestseller, has been reprinted in Dutch seventeen times. It is the 4th book in the Pieter Van In Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
What I think
Cases on satanic cults interest me a lot but sadly that wasn’t really the focus of the book. I would have preferred less drama and more sect. I still don’t like the main character. Also when in chapter 11 you already understand how it ends and you really don’t like it. I don’t want to give too much spoiler but there are some “clichés” that I just can’t digest and unfortunately one is mentioned here. This made my rating drop by a lot. I don’t think I will continue with a series and the main reason is that I don’t like Van In.
Inspector Pieter Van In is begrudgingly finishing up a healthy lunch when he hears the news: While restoring their farmhouse, the Vermasts have found a skeleton in the backyard. Van In, who happens to be married to the deputy public prosecutor, is determined to solve the case in double-quick time and squeeze in one last vacation before the birth of his first child.
But this murder is trickier than it looks, and Van In soon finds himself in murky waters. The Vermasts’ land belonged to the most prominent businessman in West Flanders before it was suddenly handed over to a right-wing charity. The heavily endowed foundation appears to have no expenditures or investments. So who’s financing it—and why?
Before he knows it, Van In finds himself in the middle of a complex web—one that involves high-level officials, local law enforcement, and common thugs. The harder he tries to unravel the thread, the more difficult it becomes to uncover the secrets that the charity’s benefactors are trying to hide. This time Van In will have to risk lives to find out the truth.
About the book
A body is found in the garden of a house outside the city. The body looks like a man and has been underground since 1985, or so it seems. Van In finds himself investigating against politicians and men of power who would like to see the case covered up. Obviously he goes on and what he discovers is a truth that has been buried for more than 20 years.
One quiet snow-covered Sunday morning in Bruges, a prominent business executive is found dead in the streets, apparently due to an alcoholic hemorage, but for Inspector Van In, there is a something about the autopsy that does not add up. When he questions the businessman's friend, a Dutchman, he too is found dead the next morning, burned to death in a house fire.
When there is an explosion in the middle of a popular tourist area in downtown Bruges, Van In strives to find the connection between the three incidents, but no one is coming forward to claim responsibility for this terrorist attack. Just an anonymous letter to the police, threatening more bombings--unless they cooperate with a series of demands that would undermine the entire city government.
Aided by the spunky and beautiful assistant DA Hannelore Maartens, Inspector Van In finds himself enmeshed in the case that threatens not just the lives of countless of innocent people, but the heart of the city he loves.
What I think
Second book in the series dedicated to Van In, a commissioner from a small town in Flanders called Bruges. This time the commissioner has to investigate an unclear death, statues and monuments that someone wants to blow up in the city and history that goes back to Nazism.
The beautiful medieval architecture of Bruges belies the dark longings of her residents. When the wealthy and powerful Ludovic Degroof's jewelry store is broken into, nothing is stolen, but the jewels have been dissolved in jars if aqua regia, an acid so strong it can even melt gold. In the empty safe is a scrap of paper on which a strange square has been drawn. At first, Inspector Van In pays little attention to the paper, focusing on the bizarre nature of the burglary. But when Degroof's offspring also receive letters with this same square, Van In and the beautiful new DA Hannelore Martens find themselves unraveling a complex web of enigmatic Latin phrase and a baroness' fallen family and Degroof's relationship with a hostage grandchild, ransomed for a priceless collection of art.
About the Book
This is the first book of Pieter Aspe’s book series featuring Inspector Van In. This is a very old book, published first in Belgium in 1995 (it still has Francs as currency, I couldn’t understand the money!) and translated in Italian in 2009 and in English in 2013.
In this book, Van In meets the Deputy Public Prosecutor Hannelore Martens and they investigate a robbery in a jewelry store owned by Ghislain Degroof, the son of the powerful and wealthy Ludovic Degroof. However, this is not the usual robbery, because the gold is dissolved in aqua regia and the details suggest a personal motive. When Ludovic Degroof’s grandson is kidnapped, the case gets more difficult.
All my book reviews are and will be 100% honest. I don’t get paid to write them and I don’t get “gifts” to write a good review so what I write is what I think. If I love a book, I’m going to say that, if I don’t like a book, I will write why I don’t. My critics aren’t an attack to the author, they are just how I feel about a subject or a style. See more in my Review Policy.