This is great read if you want/need to escape the feel-good Christmas mood for a while.
Double Deceit: A plot-twisting thriller set in the heart of Amsterdam by Julienne Brouwers released in October in the Political thriller, crime genre.
What if you were framed for a murder you didn’t commit? A gripping, addictive thriller for fans of Angela Clarke, Mel Sherratt and Rachel Lynch. Jennifer Smits is a young mother, married to a hotshot lawyer and living in Amsterdam. Her world explodes when her husband is found dead at a holiday park during a weekend getaway. Convinced that the police have failed in their investigation, she embarks on a desperate quest for the truth – but the deeper she digs, the more she gets enmeshed in a tangled web of lies, spun by a ruthless law firm.
As Jennifer’s search for answers intensifies, her grip on reality weakens. Barely able to manage her patients at the health clinic, or take care of her young son, Jennifer is at risk of losing it all – even her closest friends begin to desert her. And then a chance encounter with a charming stranger sparks a new chain of events that plunges her deeper into a world of threats and corruption. Soon, she begins to fear for her life – but who can she trust, and how far will she go in pursuit of the truth?
This is a gripping, addictive thriller that will make you question everything, including the flaws of forensics. Could we all be framed for a murder we didn’t commit?
Around half past nine, to my relief, I had a ten-minute gap in my programme during which I quickly got another cup of coffee.
Once back in my room, I sat down on my chair, took my mobile phone out of my pocket and dialled the number.
“Armstrong,” he barked.
“Good morning detective. This is Jennifer Smits speaking. You called me earlier this morning. You wanted to have a word with me about the investigation into my husband’s death, Oliver?” At first impulse I’d felt surprised that the police considered his death suspicious. However, I knew professionally that they were obliged to perform an investigation and after giving it more thought I was happy that they wanted to rule out any foul play.
He paused for a moment. “Yes, yes,” he stammered, in a friendlier tone.
I heard the rustling of paper in the background as I took a sip of my coffee.
“We’ve received all the test results. I’m happy to inform you we’ve discovered nothing abnormal. The toxicology tests didn’t reveal the presence of any drugs or medication. The autopsy on your husband’s body was also entirely in line with our expectations.” The detective coughed and then carried on summarising his findings. “No traces of violence were found. Neither on the body, nor at the location where your husband was discovered. Finally, no foreign forensic material was detected.”
I hooked my feet around the chair legs and leaned backwards, mumbling a few words of relief.
“Your husband had a large wound on the back of his head that matched the rock he landed on. In all likelihood, he became unconscious almost instantly after his fall and died as a result of severe blood loss from his head injury. I feel therefore confident to conclude that your husband’s cause of death was related to an unfortunate chain of events after an accidental fall. He just had terrible luck, to summarise it bluntly.”
His words echoed through my mind. Unfortunate chain of events… Terrible luck…
How was it possible that he’d plummeted down the slope with such force that his injuries were fatal, I wondered. It was hardly the edge of a cliff or a steep mountainside. Perhaps he’d been all worked up by our argument to the point of becoming reckless.
“Mrs Smits, are you still there?”
I snapped to attention. “Yes, I am,” I quickly said.
“Is everything clear?”
I closed my eyes and rubbed my face. “I guess so,” I responded, although I wasn’t sure whether to be relieved with this conclusion or not. Oliver’s death just seemed even more senseless.
“So what happens now? Is this it?”
“Yes. We’ll finalise our report, for which we won’t need your help. You can come over to our office and collect your husband’s personal belongings. I’ll leave them for you at the reception. If anything else comes up, we’ll contact you. Although that seems unlikely.”
“Thank you so much for your explanation and efforts.”
“At your service. I wish you all the best.”
I was ready to hang up when Detective Armstrong interjected, “Oh yes, one more thing.” After a short pause he continued, broaching an odd topic. “Well, it may be a bit of an impertinent question I suppose … but were you by any chance aware of your husband preferring certain types of underwear?”
I wondered if I’d misheard. “Certain types of underwear?”
“Did he have a rather distinct, unusual taste in this area?” His voice sounded as if he felt as uncomfortable as I was with this conversation.
“Not a chance,” I assured him.
“He didn’t have, er … dare I say a fetish, as they call it nowadays?”
What was this man talking about? “He always wore normal boxer shorts. You know, typical men’s underwear. Why are you asking?”
“Right,” he mumbled and then paused for a brief moment. “That’s peculiar. Your husband was wearing red, lace knickers when he died. They appeared to be ladies underwear.”
I felt utterly gobsmacked. A long awkward silence filled the air as I took it all in. “This doesn’t make any sense. He never wore anything like that.” What was that man thinking? Was he taking the mickey out of me? Surely, he wasn’t inferring that my husband wore my underwear, or worse, that he’d get turned on by it?
“I see. Perhaps your husband may have liked to wear your knickers. Or he may have bought a pair for himself to give it a try. Trust me, this seems quite normal compared to the situations I’ve encountered. You wouldn’t believe the things I come across. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, a unique situation will present itself that knocks my socks off. There are a lot of weird people out there. Sometimes I wonder if I should quit and be done with the absurdity, or rejoice in the quirkiness of my job.”
I felt lost for words. “But how …” I stammered.
“Very well. Not to worry. Mrs Smits, you take care now. I wish you and your son all the best. Goodbye.”
Before I could even respond, he’d hung up.
About Julienne Brouwers
Julienne Brouwers worked as a pharmaceutical scientist and medical physicist before becoming a writer. She lives in the Netherlands, with her husband and three children, where she has published two successful thrillers, and lived in the UK and US for a total of four years.
Off to the New Year
The end of 2020 is rapidly approaching. And what a year it has been. If last year, an author would have written a book on how a virus would spread rapidly over the globe and ruthlessly paralyze our lives, he’d never been able to find a publisher for it: “far too unrealistic”. And yet, we’ve been faced with daunting challenges that covid-19 has brought, like becoming ill, losing a loved one to the virus, or having become unemployed. Also secondary effects have been severe, of which social distancing may have had the most profound social impact. We’re not allowed to hug our loved ones anymore, we can’t shake hands when we meet someone new, in grocery stores we give other customers a wide berth, all afraid of catching the virus and becoming ill, or perhaps worse, passing on the virus to a loved one with a fragile health.
Christmas will be unlike any other year we’ve ever celebrated it. Depending on the state or country you’re in, there may be different rules on how many people you’re allowed to see, but we’ll all be affected – that’s for sure. So, what are your plans for Christmas? Perhaps you’ve decided to play it safe and just stay at home. Or maybe you’re adamant to see your parents, your grandchildren and children not living at home anymore, or your closest friends. After all, meeting up and connecting with the people dearest to you, is essential to life, especially during the holidays.
There have been some interesting and unexpected positive side effects of the lockdown as a result of covid-19 as well though. According to the BMJ, skies are bluer, fewer cars are crashing, crime is falling, and some other infectious diseases are fading from hospital emergency departments. The disease and the resulting restrictions have also forced us to be flexible, to adapt to sudden curve balls that life throws you. It has given us an opportunity to reflect on what’s important in life, value our relationships with other people more. And although we’re still restricted as to how many of those friends and family we’re allowed to visit, it may have sparked the intention of investing in our loved ones as much as we can.
As a result of the pandemic, the number of books that people are reading has increased, in particular ebooks, which as an author I’m thrilled about. Books have proven to deflect, to give distraction from the dire straits we as a society are in. It’s lovely to be able to create something, that gives other people pleasure and makes them forget about the problems they’re facing, albeit for just a few hours. Let’s hope that 2021 will be a year so good, it will make us leave behind the pandemic for good.
I wish you all the best for 2021, stay safe and a Merry Christmas!