Saturday, May 4, 2013


"Slechts even flitste het door hem heen, dat het geen wijkmoord leek te worden: en dan nog wel in de wijk, waar hij zoveel jaren van zijn jeugd had doorgebracht en na zijn trouwen opnieuw was gaan wonen: Overschie. Dat de moord op de rijksweg was gepleegd, scheen die mogelijkheid al uit te sluiten. Want de weg liep wel dwars door Overschie, maar bleef er tegelijkertijd... buiten. Wat op de weg gebeurde hoorde bij het doorgaande verkeer en maakte van het bestaan in de wijk geen deel uit
"Puur geheim op rijksweg 13"

"For a second, it flashed through his mind that this probably wouldn't become a neighbourhood murder. And this was the neighbourhood he had spent many years of youth in and had come to live in after his marriage: Overschie. The fact the murder had been commited on the highway seemed to eliminate that possibility. The road did run through Overschie, but was also... outside it. What happened on the road, was part of the ongoing traffic and not part of the neighbourhood"
"Pure Secret on Highway 13"
Still waiting for Japanese books. Still waiting.

Oh, and a happy Reichenbach Falls day! 

We were presented with a classic whodunnit and a locked room murder problem in Cor Docter's first two mystery novels and the final entry in his topographical mystery series, Rein geheim op rijksweg 13 ("Pure Secret on Highway 13"), brings us a dying message, written in red paint and written on the inside of a van parked on the emergency lane of highway 13. The accompanying dead body (that's what makes it a dying message) was found by two thieves who wanted to steal parts from the van, but that plan kinda blew up, with a murder and all. But there are plenty of clues to follow for the police, and with events like a woman falling from a building, a suspicious old man popping up here and there and the escape of a high-profile convict from prison seemingly related to the dead guy in the van, commisioner Vissering has lots to do, and he isn't even sure whether he'll be free for Christmas in a few days!

Rein geheim op rijksweg 13 has similar the same problems to Koude vrouw in Kralingen, but it's a bit more balanced, making it the better of the two. Both novels are a bit disorienting halfway through their stories, because Docter keeps on moving the plot, feeding the reader (and the police) more events and revelations that might or might not be related to the main murder. Sure, an occasional red herring is welcome, but with these two novels the development of the plots felt a bit too arbitrary. Like I said in the Koude vrouw review, at times it feels like Docter is just padding out the plot to fill pages. It's entertaining padding, that I will admit, but if you think about it too much, you'll see that sometimes the way one part of the story connects to another is a bit uneven.

Overall though, Rein geheim op rijksweg 13 is a very entertaining story. The opening pages are captivating, being a narration of how the two thieves stumble upon the body. Already in this part Vissering comes up with some great logical deductions that just ooze Queen-spirit (and the book is about a dying message!). The conclusion is no less impressive, as one might have expected considering the previous two novels.

One of my favourite parts of the series on a whole are the way commisioner Vissering and his subordinate Grijphand work: every now and then one tells the other his theory, with the other acting as the Devil's Advocate. Deductions thus develop through discussion, not unlike the way it's done in the Gyakuten game series or the Revoir series. I personally enjoy this a lot, as ever-changing deductions in the realm of the imagination are at least as fun to read as actual developments in real investigations, in the real world. I felt this element at his best in this last part of the series.

Cor Docter's little series on Rotterdam has been fun though and it's a pity the books aren't available in any other language. But then again, that can be said of most of the books I discuss here... Oh, and yes, this review is a bit shorter than usual, but that's because I mentioned the most interesting points about the series on a whole and such in the earlier reviewy already (leaving next to nothing for this review!).

Original Dutch title(s): Cor Docter, Rein geheim op Rijksweg 13


  1. The uneven connection and side-distractions can be explained by Docter being a writer of pulp fiction instead of straight forward mysteries, but they're hardly real weaknesses when placed in the overall picture of the story. They keep you reading and interested, even if they're disconnected from the main plot and they can be clever to boot (not just entertaining). Like the clue of the glass of diluted bleach in the suicide case. That’s how a detective story should be padded, if needed.

    Glad you enjoyed the series.

    1. By the way, I posted a link to your Cor Docter reviews on the GAD group (post).

      It's a criminal that you hardly get any views on these reviews.

    2. ^Thanks!

      I did like the suicide part (though it needed a bit more hinting to be considered really fair), but it would have been so much better on its own (as its own story), I think!

    3. I think it was fairer to readers in 1971 than now, because it hinges on a piece of now obscure household knowledge from that period. Not sure if this would have worked better on its own, but it would be one of those rare stories that I would’ve accepted the suicide verdict from.