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I have been writing for UtrechtCentral for almost a year now and enjoy it immensely. There are many reasons for this, but primarily it is that I love to write.
I took a Masters in Creative Writing at De montfort University in Leicester when i was 61. I just wanted to know if my writing was any good. I still don’t know the answer to that question, but for my degree I wrote a crime novel set in Utrecht.
Initially it was to be set in Amsterdam as that was where my son lived and it was a great excuse to visit him to “research” my novel, but then he moved to Utrecht.
The first time I visited the city I fell in love with it. It is the most beautiful of settings for any novel, so I quickly moved my lead character from Amsterdam to Utrecht and haven’t looked back since! My second novel set in the city is underway. Both covers are photographs by Liselotte Gijzemijter whose wonderful photography has been featured in these pages.
So here I am letting you have an extract from the early part of the story.
Caes Heda is a Hoofdinspecteur in Utrecht. Thirty-nine and in charge of Crime at Kroonstraat Police Bureau, not committing it obviously, but tidying up after it had been committed. If he could catch them great, but he felt there was not much chance of stopping them all. It was a full-time job!
Kroonstraat Police Bureau, 09.25.
Young Police Agent Frederik Meijer was at the desk alongside one of the civilian staff; but he had drawn the short straw. He gave Caes a disgusted ‘why did you bring her in with you?’ look as his nose wrinkled at the odour that she had trailed in with her and now shared with him.
“Mevrouw?” Freddie asked.
“My daughter, she has disappeared…”
“When was this?”
“Don’t know, I can’t remember…”
He looked at Caes; he looked back, not knowing what to do or say. Caes shrugged his shoulders towards him, a madwoman?
“Let’s start at the beginning…” Freddie said.
“She looks after me.”
“She lives with you?”
“No, she comes by and looks after me.”
“I see, when was the last time you saw her?” Freddie tried to get some clearer information.
“I can’t remember.”
Freddie Meijer was trying to be professional, but Caes sympathised with him as he started to get frustrated.
“I know she is missing, I feel it!”
“Mevrouw…” Freddie started.
“I feel it… I know something is wrong.”
“Elise. Elise Cuijper, she is… I’m sorry, I do not know her age.”
“Description?” Freddie asked helpfully.
Caes left them to it, heading towards his office and a fresh cup of coffee to warm himself up. He sniffed at his clothes, he thought he had got away with it, but how very odd this situation was.
At the morning briefing, Caes sat on the edge of his desk. He had a good team around him, they all worked well together. Freddie Meijer, he liked, he was young, so enthusiastic, he used his initiative and he was always asking questions, wanting to get better, wanting to improve. His fellow Police Agent was Maaike, his twin sister, she was lovely, and if possible had an even brighter future than Freddie.
Freddie was tall, blue eyed and blond with a chiselled face., a handsome young man, his sister Maaike was attractive as well, she had auburn hair with sparkling emerald green eyes. They were big and happy eyes.
“Oké, listen up everyone. We have had a resurgence of pickpocketing, especially around the Stadhuisbrug area, I want Freddie and Maaike to go plainclothes and just stroll around together for a couple of mornings, oké?” Caes said.
“Baas,” agreed Maaike, “Should I hold his hand?”
“Baas, please no!”
Freddie complained. Everyone else laughed.
“Moder always made me hold his hand when we went shopping, she says Freddie can’t be
trusted on his own.”
There was even more laughter as Freddie went redder by the moment.
“Anything you like, Maaike, but best hold onto your purse first.” Caes smiled.
He couldn’t understand why people had started delving into other peoples’ pockets during this weather, he’d have thought their fingers would have been frozen solid before they could start. Wasn’t everything tucked away, or did people not bother, thinking this would only happen during the summer. Oh well, such was life.
Madelon Verloet, one of the two Hoofdagenten, and most recent addition to the team spoke:
“As you know we had a nasty rape last week and as you know two sexual assaults last week. We know they are linked and we think we know who it is; we are waiting for DNA tests, but we’ll see. I’ll be looking after that and may need Maaike at some stage.”
Madelon was newly divorced and had moved from Tilburg, another attractive woman about the same age as Caes. She was professional and capable with a sense of humour most of the team were getting used to.
“An unprovoked attack on a French visitor, not sure if it was robbery or race related, but we need to have our wits about us, at the moment, it’s you, Danny and Adrie looking into it?” Caes asked.
“Yes, baas, we think it may be one of the Moroccan gangs going by early descriptions. The victim is concussed, but described them well, but still asking around… May or may not be linked to the pickpocketing so we’ll keep in touch with the Meijer siblings. But I think they will both need to take care.” Adrie said.
“That’s very thoughtful of you, Adrie,” Maaike smiled, “But knowing you are on the case as well, I feel so much safer already!”
“Oké dank for that, Maaike.” Caes intervened, “Right, I know that Ernst is still looking into this stolen car business?”
Ernst was a monster. Brigadier Ernst Hoewegen. Nearly two metres of solid muscle, a mountain of a man. He had an amazing moustache, just like Hoofdagent de Gier in van der Weterings Amsterdam Cops series of crime novels; but without the Zen influences. Ernst thought he was Gods’ gift to women, just like de Gier. He made Caes smile, but he was a hell of a police agent. He was unique at Kroonstraat. He could go back to his very first day at work and recall events that he had covered then or had read up in files. He was the ‘go to’ guy if you needed any information. He was like a magician. Ask him a question and he would always come up with the goods. They didn’t need computers when he was about. Sometimes staff thought he took files home to learn them off by heart. It didn’t do them any harm that’s for sure!
“We think it is a local gang, but I’ve some help from Organised Crime.”
He looked around the room.
“I have a few ideas of my own as to who it is, but need confirmation. Wait to be updated.”
Caes smiled, this meant they were doomed.
“Madelon is also looking at some violence towards some working girls by their pimps.” Caes said moving things along.
“Yes, we have seen quite a few girls with bruising recently and it seems that some pimps are becoming more violent. I cannot understand why. We know they don’t have to be with a pimp, but think this is affecting the foreign girls more than our Dutch ladies, so there may be more to it. The girls, as usual, aren’t too keen to talk, but again if Maaike and I can have some time to talk together and then interview the girls?”
“Yes, no problem. Do we interview the pimps?” Caes wondered aloud.
“We’ll have to see what their girls want us to do, it is pointless talking to the scum if we cannot prosecute them. They will just laugh at us.”
“It could make them think twice?” Caes ventured.
“That sort don’t think!” snarled Maaike, “We need to find a way to make them…”
There were murmurs of approval from the group.
Caes could not understand why the girls seemed to feel they needed a pimp for protection; still…
“This is when we should have some type of vigilante group, to beat the crap out of a few of them,” said Freddie with evident anger as red again flared up on his cheeks, but he was not embarrassed this time…
Well what do you think?
If you would like to read more let me know in the comments section.
If you’d like to buy the book, follow the link here.