Title: Double Deceit
Author: Julienne Brouwers
Publisher: JB Uitgeverij
My GoodReads Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Jennifer Smits, a doctor, and her husband, Oliver, a hotshot lawyer, are facing trouble in their marriage. They go off with their two-year-old son Tim to a weekend getaway to rekindle the spark. But after a quarrel, Oliver goes out for a walk, has a fall and dies. Jennifer is left bereaved.
While looking through his stuff, Jennifer finds evidence of an affair. She calls the woman, Sandra, from his phone and questions her. Soon she is convinced that Oliver was consumed by some irregularities at his firm, Mason and McGant.
Meanwhile, police reveal that there is no evidence of foul play. The only aberration is that Oliver is found wearing lacy panties inside his clothes at the time of his death.
Unsure of what to believe, but knowing only that something feels wrong, Jennifer calls Sandra for answers to her questions. Together they break into the premises of Mason and McGant and find a DVD of Oliver caught in a compromising situation. They also find some cryptic notes that Oliver had made just before his death.
Then Sandra dies in an accident. And a charming man, Dan Bernstein, who also happens to be a lawyer at Oliver’s firm, befriends her. Are all these incidents mere coincidences? Or is her life in danger?
Friends Lindsey, Frederique and Karen warn her to stay off the case, but Jennifer won’t listen to any of them. She is determined to find out the truth, no matter what the cost.
The book is written in the first-person past tense PoV of Jennifer.
I liked Jennifer. The determination with which she keeps going ahead, in spite of the risks, is admirable. She is completely believable as a woman who is unwilling to come to terms with the death of her husband, and whose home life, work situation and friendships are all affected by her search for her truth.
But there were still some character traits that I found naïve, at best, and stupid, at worst. She would ask suspicious people the most difficult of questions and then believe the answers they gave her. It was really a stroke of luck that things didn’t backfire on her immediately.
Another example of this naivete, out of place in a medical doctor, is her insistence on touching the dead body of her husband, even though the policewoman has warned her that according to the rules, the coroner must first examine the body so as not to tamper with forensic evidence.
I also dislike the much abused tendency on the part of female protagonists to consume alcohol in such copious quantities that they are no longer in control of themselves.
Among the friends, I liked Lindsey. She had a life beyond her friendship with Jennifer. Such a rare thing for a minor character. Also, she says it like it is, and is rock-solid dependable. The friendship between the two women was captured well, the desire to be supportive, yet the exasperation when one’s friend does something that one clearly disapproves of.
Hans was another character that was reliable and solid. Jennifer was lucky to have him in her corner.
I also liked the way the author made Amsterdam come alive. A few more descriptions about the city, its sights and its people would have helped though.
Dan Bernstein was just too good to be true. I also had an issue with the speed with which things were resolved. Literally, in one chapter. I would have liked to have more details regarding the resolution. That was a bit of a disappointment.
Overall, a good read.