Because of the cats

By Nicolas Freeling

A book with a perhaps more thoroughly Dutch athmosphere than the others, less cosmopolitan, this last of the Freelings we took on our holiday to Greece was also one of the best. A nice mystery, a very close look at our Inspector van der Valk and some excellent writing make for an engaging, fast read.

  • Author: Nicolas Freeling
  • Title: Because of the cats
  • Pages: 192
  • Published: 1965 (1963)
  • Publisher: Penguin Crime

However, not all is well with Because of the cats. The main villain is in all senses of the word a weak character; not just the person, but also the portrayal. Weaker still is the opportunity this particular German barkeep offers Freeling to beat his favourite drum again: immaturity, immaturity. Anything out of the ordinary is caused by immaturity, and that begins to bore me a bit as an explanation for criminal behaviour. Likewise, there is another rich, self-made man who fits his house out in the worst possible taste, a taste applauded by Freeling.

Of course, this is a book from the middle sixties; it is neither long nor terribly sophisticated. And one wouldn’t expect a show of good taste from the Era of Orange Furniture. Still, one wonders what Freeling was getting at. Perhaps his own youth was a bit too full of good taste or something like that. I don’t know.

On the plus side, Feodora, an immigrant whore in Bloemendaal, has been painted with care, love and immaculate detail. The more’s the pity that she doesn’t get what she deserves. No doubt in the interests of ‘realism’, but it’s a pity nonetheless.