#BEDM - 17th: 'The House of Dolls' (book review)

I have said many times before that I love reading.  I am a fickle reader, quickly moving from one genre to another, flicking between authors, and abandoning a book after a few chapters if it's failing to engage me.  I will read pretty much anything, other than sci-fi (I have tried reading such books, honestly, but I just didn't like them).  However, one genre of books I don't read much of is crime fiction.  I went through a phase a few years ago of reading Agatha Christie books, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but I've not really read anything more modern.  Well, I have, but they were mainly books I picked up whilst travelling, and as I can't even remember what they were about that just shows how much attention I paid to them.

Always willing to broaden my reading horizons (how else are you to discover new books and authors?  I had The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood on my bookshelf for about two years before I read it, and wished I'd read it sooner as I loved it, and she's now one of my favourite authors) I received a copy of The House of Dolls by David Hewson.  Admittedly, not someone I'd heard of, but he wrote The Killing novels set in Denmark (now those I have heard of!).

The House of Dolls is set in Amsterdam and very handily has a map at the front of the book.  With books set in foreign-to-me places (although I have been to Amsterdam twice, I've no idea what roads are called, or different areas of the city) it is handy to have a map, or at least a diagram, so I can follow what's happening where.  The story follows Pieter Vos, an Amsterdam detective who left his job when his sixteen year old daughter went missing a few years ago and he couldn't find her, despite his very best efforts.  He now lives on a houseboat and spends his time at the Rijksmuseum looking at a doll's house which he believes to be connected in some way to Anneliese's disappearance.  One day he meets Laura Bakker, a new detective, who informs him that Katja Prins, daughter of a prominent politician has gone missing in circumstances which appear similar to those of his daughter's.  Vos finds himself back in the police force, trying to solve these disappearances.

The book is very fast-paced, with very short chapters (occasionally only a few pages in length) which helps to keep up the pace of the plot.  Doesn't help with bedtime reading, here I am saying I'll read a couple of chapters in bed, but that's only about 12 pages and I have to keep reading as the chapter has ended in such a way that I want to know what's happening next...

I did get confused in a few places, possibly due to the unfamiliar names - I had to keep thinking that you're a bad guy and you're a good guy, both having dealings with another bad guy who sees himself as a good guy and not a bad guy like the first bad guy who possibly thinks that he too is a good guy, but I think I got the hang of the names after a while!

I admit I got a tad bored towards the end, I think by this point the short chapters were annoying me slightly, I wanted to read a bit more about what the characters were doing before the plot moved swiftly on to someone else.  However, I stayed up late to finish this book last night, and the ending didn't disappoint.

That's my fix of crime literature for a while, although I'd probably read more by this author in the future.

*A copy of this book was sent to me for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are, of course, my own.


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