Blurb: 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 of 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.
This is a promising beginning to this series of police procedurals set in the gorgeous city of Bruges, Belgium. The primary characters, Assistant Commissioner Pieter Van In and Deputy Public Prosecutor Hannelore Martens, are engaging both individually and as a team. There’s no shortage of humor in this book, the characters are likeable, and the plot winds and twists and finds its way to a satisfying conclusion.
In many ways this book reminded me of Donna Leon’s Brunetti books. There’s the same undercurrent of old money, backroom politics, and widespread corruption; the same enjoyment of food and drink; and the same sense that tourists are seeing an entirely different city from the one the residents live in.
There are some issues with language, and I’m not sure whether those are the author’s or the translator’s. At worst this is a mild annoyance, though, and because this is the first book in a successful series, it’s easy to overlook the occasional clunker in the hopes that the writing will improve as the series progresses. I’m looking forward to more.
This ARC was furnished by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
My rating: 3 stars