Sunday, September 18, 2016

Compelling Belgian Mystery, THE FOURTH FIGURE, Pieter Aspe

Collecting international mysteries? I am. And there's always another author to catch up with. This time, I am really happy to discover Pieter Aspe, who writes in Flemish and has a wide European readership. Thanks to Open Road Media and translator Brian Doyle, the series is arriving in America, and THE FOURTH FIGURE has a September 13 publication date.

Commissioner Pieter Van In has a small but expert crime-investigation team in Bruges, and can count on his sergeant, Guido Versavel, to back him up. That's especially important right now because Van In's emotions are all over the place -- his beloved Hannelore is mere weeks away from having their baby and he'll be a father, a complication he hasn't yet adjusted to. For Van In, that means his drinking is escalating. He's still the best at his job. But when his boss adds a stunningly beautiful and seductive journalist to the investigation of a suicide-with-doubts and a network of Satanic gatherings, Van In's stability crumbles.

When Van In and Guido, escaping the journalist for the moment, begin to probe the home of the woman who killed herself in the nearby canal, Van In hopes for a bit longer that the death won't become suspicious, especially because of the obvious Satanic symbols in the home:
Religious fanatics and ordinary criminals maintained different sets of norms, and that made it all the more difficult to track them down.

"That's strange." Guido was opening the remaining drawers in the desk. "Somebody's been clearning up."

The drawers were completely empty. Van In shook his head. The entire affair was beginning to stink. "Maybe we should put things on hold for a bit," he said guardedly, "wait until we know the precise cause of death."

"You're afraid we might stir up some hornet's nest."

"I'm praying we haven't already, Guido."

"Prayer sound appropriate, given the circumstances," Guido said with a smile.
Menace, risk, and terrorism rapidly accumulate, and Van In's home situation trembles on the edge of disaster. Aspe's skills ramp the tension rapidly upward, with characters that linger afterward, until reading the rest of this well-established series is suddenly a "must." Open Road Inegrated Media has four available now; more than 30 others look possible. Good discovery!

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