84 of 85 people found the following review helpful
An excellent coda (?) to the series,
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This review is from: The Perfidious Parrot (Amsterdam Cops S) (Paperback)
As I have read the entire Amsterdam Cops series (well out of sequence), and this latest novel is among the best, I thought I would post one review instead of 15, in hopes that it will help others navigate this collection of quirky, charming police procedurals. Starred = esp. recommended.
1. Outsider in Amsterdam (`75) - What one expects from the first of a series. Some characteristics are there, but not all, and not as pronounced, and the characters are only beginning to take shape. The commissaris has only a brief appearance; the chief inspector, who disappears after this, is more prominent. An adequate story, with a few very good scenes.
2-4. Tumbleweed ('76), The Corpse on the Dike (`76), Death of a Hawker ('77) - Progressively more - and smoother - integration of the philosophical themes, and the characters continue their fleshing-out process. The relaxed, Buddhism-and-psychology-tinged nature of the series is becoming evident here. The three stories are about equally complex. Of a piece.
5*. The Japanese Corpse (`77) - Stands out in that the Buddhism theme gets much more play than usual; the cops travel to Japan. Very linear and simple in terms of the plot/police work. The commissaris here begins to carry much of the philosophising theme, and by now has become an intellectual leader of sorts to G&dG.
6*. The Blond Baboon ('78) - The best puzzle of them all, the pacing is good, and the book is solid in all other respects. Van de Wetering has really hit his stride by now, and the rest, if often not as well-rounded as this one, usually have some extra dimension added to them. This would be a very good one to start with.
7*. The Maine Massacre ('79) - De Gier and the commissaris travel, and a lot of the fun is in their observations of their new surroundings, and interactions with the locals. Better, of course, if you already know the characters and the series, but it is very good anyway.
8. The Mind-Murders ('81) - Really two linked psychology-tinged novellas. Mostly G&dG here, lots of joking, sarcasm between them. By now the cops are fully formed characters and here the interactions between them are emphasized, like the way a good sitcom runs familiar characters into situations that allow them to play off one another. Not bad, but constitutes a bit of a lull in the series.
9. The Streetbird ('83) - The plot deals with black magic, but it's not all that hokey, since it fits in a way with van de Wetering's philosophising. One might guess the villain midway through, but it doesn't matter. Better than #8, but not quite as good as the others in this stretch.
10*. The Rattle-Rat (`85) - Notable for clever banter between the cops, several running jokes, a few chaotic scenes with overlapping dialogue. Very amusing. Plot threads spring out of nowhere, eventually drift together. Again, one should know midway through who the culprit is. The oddest of the odd, and among the best.
11*. Hard Rain (`86) - A noir, van de Wetering style. Here the cops untangle police corruption linked with several murders. We, and they, know who the bad guys are - and here they are genuinely bad - right off, so it is a matter of the cops navigating the situation and bringing the criminals to justice. The cat-and-mouse games combined with the series' usual touches makes for tremendous entertainment.
12. Just a Corpse at Twilight (`94) - The three have been retired for two years. Grijpstra is a PI, de Gier is living easy in Maine after traveling, and the commissaris is at home. A good, but slight, story; it's more about how the characters are getting along, and re-does the fish-out-of-water thing, especially amusing here because Maine is new to Grijpstra, and not to de Gier. Slightly inferior to #14, but good.
13*. The Hollow-Eyed Angel (`96) - Still cops - this one takes place before #12. Probably half-written during the series' hiatus, finished after. Dominated by the commissaris, who goes to NYC. Very reflective in tone, lots of philosophy and psychology, and the story is better than most. One of the best.
14*. The Perfidious Parrot (`97) - De Gier has joined Grijpstra's PI "agency." As with #12 there is a lot of interaction between the ex-cops and the (here, exotic) locales, and it is even more overtly about the characters' lives than the others. Some back-story in this and #12 about how the cops got rich, and here it is integral to the rest of the book.
15. The Amsterdam Cops-Collected Stories (`99) - Take place throughout the cops' tenure in Amsterdam. The commissaris is barely present, and in a few G&dG only pop up briefly. Quick character and crime studies, a couple mild puzzles. For completists only. The interplay between characters is missing here.