Thursday, February 22, 2024

"Dutch Threat" by Josh Pachter

College student Jack Farmer gets a dream assignment from his professor: spend two weeks in Amsterdam doing research, and all expenses are paid. The next thing he knows, he’s landing at Schiphol Airport and in a taxi to his hotel. 

The man he’s told to meet is a researcher and archivist at the Begijnhof, a complex of old buildings (including the oldest in the city) originally built for a Catholic sisterhood not unlike nuns. It’s original purpose has evolved; now it’s only older women who live there, and the waiting list is long indeed. Jack’s introduced to several of the residents, including one with a live-in nurse who bowls the student over. Then his host takes off for a conference, leaving Jack as a temporary resident so he can do his research – and feed the cat.


But then one of the ladies, the one with the attractive nurse, is found stabbed to death. Given that the complex is locked at night, suspicion falls on the nurse. The police are even more suspicious when the nurse turns out to be the victim’s sole beneficiary. But Jack knows better, and he’s determined to vindicate the young woman he’s falling in love with. 


Dutch Threat is the first, but not likely the last, of the Jack Farmer mysteries by Josh Pachter. It’s a fun story, full of Amsterdam’s sights (and food), written in an almost breezy, college-student style (with a good dose of colorful language). Pachter uses real locations, and while it’s been 25 years since I visited the city, I remember the Begijnhof, the Amsterdam Historical Museum, the Liedesplein, and many of the other scenes in the book.


Josh Pachter

Pachter has been a writer and teacher in high schools and universities in the United States and Europe. He’s also a translator, writer, and editor, and has had more than 100 crime stories published in a wide array of magazines, including Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine when he was 16. He’s edited numerous anthologies and translated both fiction and nonfiction, primarily from Dutch into English. He lives with his family in Virginia.


Dutch Threat (possibly a play on words of “Dutch treat”) is a fast-paced, something-always-happening mystery, filled with the color and people of Amsterdam.


Top photograph: The Begijnhof, Amsterdam by Yoan via Unsplash. Used with permission.


Some Thursday Readings


Josephine Tey, woman of mystery – Malcolm Forbes at The Critic Magazine.


9 Historical Mysteries That Have Been Adapted to Cinema – Patrice McDonough at CrimeReads. 


The Light No Light Allays – poem by Andy Patton at Rabbit Room Poetry.

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