Outsider in Amsterdam


Van de Wetering’s life is the stuff of novels. His father had an international business, so his son was introduced to cultures outside of Holland at an early age. He was nine when the Germans invaded, so learned to live in an occupied city. A young rebel, he worked for his father in Cape Town where his father fired him and he stayed for several years living on odd jobs. He lived in London, Amsterdam, Japan, and South America before settling in Maine where he died in 2008.

Most of his books were written in English, as was Outsider. While in Amsterdam, van de Wetering joined the police force and worked his way to detective. Many of his own experiences found their way into the Grijpstra & DeGier mystery series.

This is the first book of the series featuring two detectives who do their jobs even as they realize that putting one criminal in prison only makes way for another yet to be discovered.

Outsider was published in 1975 and describes that decade of disgust with the old ways of running the world without providing much hope for improvement. The murder victim was a teacher of meditation designed to improve one’s life, but Grijpstra and DeGier soon discover that most of his followers came for the bar and restaurant.

I enjoyed visiting the streets of a city I have never seen and seeing how the police worked in that time–VW patrol cars and all.

Mike Lawrence


Detroit Electric Scheme & Motor City Shakedown

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These are the first two books by Johnson with two more out as of this date. His stories are set in Detroit starting in 1910. They are rich with the history of the beginnings of the auto industry when Ford was still perfecting the assembly line and the electric cars were the class of the industry, as long as you did not want to go over 25.

Will Anderson and his love, Elizabeth Hume, are the heroes of the stories, getting themselves mixed up in all kinds of murder and criminal activities. In the first book, Will begins the story as a drunk playboy rudely awakened by a murder the police think he committed.

The first sentence of the second book reads, “My left index finger traced the shape of the little morphine bottle through the outside of my trouser pocket.” Reading on, you will understand his addiction, even though Elizabeth does not.

I always like historical mysteries and this is one of the better ones. I can see and smell the dirty streets of a booming industrial city and suffer along with Will and Elizabeth. If you like plot twists, you’ll like these stories.

Mike Lawrence