Originally written in 1995, The Square of Revenge is the first novel featuring the Bruges Assistant Commissioner Pieter Van In. I was especially interested in reading this crime novel because of its location in Belgium. Van In is called to investigate a robbery. The victim, Ludovic Degroof, is a high profile business man with friends in high places. The crime scene is instantly strange.
Inspector Van In and the forensic team find that the store hasn't actually been robbed but that the precious jewels have been melted down by Aqua Regia. In the safe where these jewels were placed, there is a strange note written in what appears to be Latin. Before Inspector Van In can get a real grasp on the motives of the case, he is shut down by his boss because their high profile victim favors his privacy more than anything else. At a crossroads, Van In and the stunning prosecuter Hannelore Martens begin to investigate on their own and uncover some very hidden family secrets.
The novel seems to stall until the abduction of a Degroof family member. I may have given away entirely too much information but the plot is not entirely that interesting or different. Although Aspe manages to hold my interest the entire novel, I felt more interested in getting to know our Inspector Van In and his new partner Hannelore. They are infitely more interesting and the secrets they uncover are much more juicy. Maybe my problem is that the crime was kinda light and deserved more "umpf".
Even with my gripe about the plot development, I must give credit to Pieter Aspe for vividly describing Bruges. And the introduction of Van In intrigues me. I know that followup novels probably give more insight into this chain-smoking, booze-drinking lover of all things beautiful. He's the most well developed character but I feel I still need/want to know more about him.
I look forward to reading more of Aspe's translated work in this Van In series. I hope The Square of Revenge is not the first and last acquaintance with this author. ***