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'Why does Frank send me children?',
This review is from: The House of Dolls (Hardcover)
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David Hewson gets around. The other novel of his I've read, 'Villa of Mysteries', is set in Italy. This one is set in Amsterdam. I remember 'Villa' as being a fairly entertaining thriller which stretches the boundaries of plausibility here and there. The same is true of 'House of Dolls', but thrillers tend to be like that.
The story begins with clumsy young cop Laura Bakker trying to persuade former detective Pieter Vos to rejoin the force. These two are quickly established as the heroes in a novel packed with characters who might not be all they seem. In addition to two rival gang bosses and their mercenary sidekicks, there's a shady lawyer, three equally shady politicians, abrasive police officers, neurotic wives and several ladies of dubious virtue. Not surprisingly, the plot is fairly complex, with several strands and numerous troubled personal histories. At the centre of this is the disappearance of the daughter of a politician, but the novel is really a whodunit on a grand scale and that is its strength.
The action is concentrated over four days with a brief epilogue added. Hewson puts in little bursts of short sentences when a character is thinking which not only helps the prose kick on but also varies the pace. My only criticism is that some of the events are a little corny, but compared with other thriller writers it's a mild tendency. The location of Amsterdam and the symbolic use of dolls is reminiscent of Alistair McLean's classic 'Puppet on a Chain'. For me, 'House of Dolls' is a worthy successor.