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The Midas Murders: An Inspector Van In Novel Hardcover – December 7, 2013


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Product Details

  • Series: Inspector Van In (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus (December 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1605984876
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605984872
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #900,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

What brainy, bodacious Bruges deputy prosecutor Hannelore Martens finds irresistible about irascible, alcoholic, and insolvent Asst. Commissioner Pieter Van In, the hero of Aspe's long-running Belgian series, remains a mystery by the end of this convoluted second installment to be translated into English (after The Square of Revenge). Despite his pressing personal problems—including the bank's threat to foreclose on his house—Van In suddenly faces some even more urgent police work: finding out who murdered a prominent German travel executive and who bombed the statue of beloved Flemish poet Guido Gezelle. Both are high-priority cases in the tourist-dependent medieval municipality. Between hangovers, mood swings, and other distractions, Van In starts to connect the dots of a vast conspiracy. Though the novel becomes increasingly engaging as the plot coalesces, it's possible that Van In, like the whiskey-cola concoction he and many of the other characters are so fond of, may be an acquired taste. (Dec.)

From Booklist

Aspe enjoys enormous success in Belgium, where his procedurals starring Bruges detective Van In are best-sellers. One of these has been translated from Flemish into English, The Square of Revenge (2013). This second Aspe novel should appeal to readers who love Northern European noir. The viewpoint is bleak, and the hero is irascible, cold, rumpled, chain-smoking, alcoholic, and barely functional. There is some relief in the city of Bruges. The translation from the Flemish often sounds stilted and is crowded with awkward similes, such as “The Commissioner grinned like a spoiled Alzheimer’s patient.” The mystery itself, starting with the death of a very drunk German businessman, moving to the incineration of the businessman’s friend the next day, and involving the largest tourist operation in Europe, keeps growing in intensity even though Van In seems poorly equipped to solve anything without his DA girlfriend’s help. The bombing of a statue of a Belgian poet in a public square moves the mystery into terrorism territory. Probably better in the original Flemish but a fairly good destination mystery. --Connie Fletcher

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By FictionFan TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover
A German businessman is murdered after a night-out in Bruges, and a famous statue is blown up. Assistant Commissioner Pieter Van In is responsible for investigating both incidents and soon begins to wonder if there’s a connection.

This is the second book in the Van In series. The first, The Square of Revenge, was a fairly light novel with lots of humour, and an enjoyable relationship between Van In and his girlfriend, deputy prosecutor Hannelore Martens. Unfortunately this one is quite different and the change is not for the better.

The plot is hackneyed (really, is there much more that can be got out of the Nazi gold saga?), confused (at least half of the time I hadn’t a clue how Van In was making his deductive leaps, and the other half I didn’t care) and unbelievable. The writing continues to have the clunkiness I mentioned in my review of the first book, and I still can’t determine whether this is a problem with the original or the translation.

Van In’s drinking has now become excessive, so we are treated to descriptions of drunkenness and hangovers, insubordination and inability to carry out his job. Very yawnworthy and not even done as 'well' as the many, many other drunken mavericks we’ve been bored to death by over the last few decades. We’re also treated to Van In using every corny and hackneyed insult about Germans that the author could dredge up – references to the Master Race and 'Heil Hitler' abound. It’s as if the book was written in the 50s rather than the 90s.

But the real problem with this book is not the poor writing, the confused plotting or even the tedious drunkenness. It’s in the attitude to women that the book really shows itself up to be an unpleasant piece of work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Patto TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A German businessman lies almost dead in the snow in Bruges. Only a scrap of skin under his fingernail revels foul play. The statute of a great Flemish poet is blown up, and nobody claims responsibility...

Assistant Commissioner Pieter Van In takes on both cases. Although the murder case has been given to another investigator, Van In perversely spends more time on it than on the bombing.

Van In drinks like a fish and smokes like a chimney, often in no-smoking zones. He has stabbing heart pains, usually looks like he's slept in his clothes. and is disastrously behind on his mortgage payments. Amazingly, he's having an affair with the very hot young deputy public prosecutor Hannelore Martens. People wonder what she sees in him. Sometimes the reader does too.

Van In is quite dependent on the good sense and hard work of his gay sergeant. Their camaraderie results in some amusing dialog.

The complex plot is fueled by the schemes of industry magnates, neo-fascists, bent officials, waiters, Walloons and Sicilians. The cleverness of the repartee feels a bit strained at times, but the caustic metaphors are dazzling. The jazziness of the prose is responsible for much of the reading pleasure. Van In's brilliance as an investigator often seems in doubt, or at least weirdly haphazard.

This may not be a perfect book, but I enjoyed it. The city of Bruges makes a fascinating locale. And so I'll continue to follow the escapades of the outrageous inspector.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jane Austen on November 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I was very excited to receive a pre-publication copy given how much I enjoyed the first book in the series, "The Square of Revenge." But, I found the follow-up to be disappointing. I found the plot hard to follow and the character of Pieter Van In to be increasingly annoying.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By TracyK on November 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The Midas Murders (1996) is the second book in a long series of police procedural novels by Pieter Aspe. Aspe is a Belgian author and the books were originally published in Belgium. This is only the second novel in the series to be translated into English and published in the US and the UK.

The first book in this series, The Square of Revenge, ended on an up note, with Commissioner Van In's prospects on the job improving, and his relationship with Hannelore Martens of the Public Prosecutor's office going well. Thus I was surprised to find that Van In was having problems in this book. Problems with women, alcohol, and depression. His health is not good and his finances are suffering. To top it off, he is behind on the payments for the beautiful house that he loves, and he cannot convince the bank to give him time to catch up on payments.

Van In is called in on two cases. A German business executive is found dead in the snow. At first it seems to be the result of an accident, but they begin to suspect foul play very soon. And very shortly after that, there is a bombing of a historic statue to be investigated.

The tone of these murder mysteries is different from most English-language mysteries I read. They seem to have a lighter, less serious tone, but definitely not cozy-ish. Sex and risque language, but not a lot of violence. I like the differences.

I found the effects of the strains and stresses of Van In's job to be realistic, although we get little background on why he has spiraled into the state he is in. Hannelore and his friends at work support him and the relationships seem realistic. Even though one wonders why Hannelore is so forgiving, I bought it, and I like the relationship.
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