Why a booktrail?
A character by the name of Pieter Posthumus works to provide identities and backgrounds to unknown corpses found in Amsterdam
Story in a nutshell
The Lonely Funerals team is responsible to make sure all those that die lonely do not die alone
and without an identity of their own do not go on their final journey anonymously. Pieter Posthumus takes his job very seriously and so when a young Moroccan is found dead, case closed, he is keen to find out who this person really was. Was it really suicide as the police are insisting? Or was it something else. Turns out that the Secret Police were also investigating Moroccan nationals about terrorism offenses. Just what is Pieter getting himself into?
Place and setting
Amsterdam may be the city of canals and charming bicycle rides but this is a side of the city that really delves into the underbelly – we visit the red light district, the immigrant areas, the possibility of a terror plot bubbling under the surface and some dark dealings down on the dank canal sides.
Strong currents push down a wide waterway, thrust up a narrower one, circle back along another,sending the young man jerking and threshing through the canals, limbs flailing in a manic underwater dance.
The canals take on a much darker tone when the immigrants body washes up in the Prinsengracht canal for example. As do the coffee shops and residential and industrial parts of the city that on a normal visit to the city you would probably never visit.
The most fascinating discovery is of course the Lonely Funerals team – which the author mentions in a note that it is in fact true. What a poignant and yet very sad fact that someone would die so anonymously in this interconnected world we live in. Fascinating to learn about the people who do this job though.
..the centuries old obligation on the Burgermeester to take responsibility for unclaimed corpses within the city limits. these days, that mostly meant tramps and junkies, lonely old men and women, people rejected by their families, the odd tourist who dropped dead in the street or one of the window-girls with false papers.
How sad that people should die alone and have no one to claim them. No matter who they are and how they came to die.
I found this fascinating that this is a real group of people who work in this way –
The story is dark and some of the issues regarding immigration and the way people die in the city, the sex trade and all that is associated with it are difficult subjects yes, but this was a completely new view and insight into the issues. Terrorism is also a difficult subject to tackle but this provided some of the most visceral and informative parts of the novel. A dark dark world that’s for sure.
But this is the first in a trilogy and it will be interesting to see it develop further…..