A review of Love in Amsterdam by Nicolas Freeling

Originally written in the 1960s; a bit dated now…

Although it’s kind of a classic, Love in Amsterdam, by Nicolas Freeling, was published in the early 1960s, and sadly, shows its age a bit.  From the time early on when Inspector Van der Valk asks the main suspect whether the victim was a “nymphomaniac”, I realized that the book’s background, while perhaps acceptable at the time it was written, might be problematic in the 2020s.   And, sure enough, a fair amount of discussion was spent on the victim’s sexual mores, in a way which felt judgmental to me, with shades of “blaming the victim”.  Not to say that the victim was a good person – she had multiple facets of her personality that were unattractive – but the emphasis on this particular one annoyed me.

I did like the writing style a lot, however, and I enjoy mysteries set in foreign (to me) places, so I persevered.  And I found that if I suspended my judgement about the victim-blaming, underneath there was an enjoyable, if somewhat unconventional, police procedural.   I especially liked the twists and turns as even the main suspect, Martin, seems to wonder if maybe he did it after all.

All-in-all, though, I was underwhelmed by this particular book, the first in the series, and so I’m giving it only three stars.  Please note, however, that I do fondly remember reading and enjoying several other titles in this series in paperback, many decades ago, closer to when they were written.   So please don’t take this review as necessarily representative of the whole series.   Also please note that I was provided with a review copy of the recently re-issued e-book version of this title by Hanover Square Press/Edelweiss, and my thanks to them.   And finally, please also note that Love in Amsterdam was also published with the alternate title, Death in Amsterdam – kind of a big difference between the titles, but who am I to judge…

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