Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Harbour Master – Daniel Pembrey

Crime Fiction  4*s

In this action packed crime thriller Henk van der Pol is present when a young woman’s body is pulled from one of Amsterdam’s canals. Henk soon realises that this isn’t some drunk student or tourist falling overboard. His feeling that something awful is at play on the streets of Amsterdam is only heightened when he is told he is not to be part of the investigation, in fact it looks remarkably like his bosses want him to leave the Police Force and start his retirement sooner rather than later.

This is a novella, one of three that the author Daniel Pembrey has now combined into a collection of three about this cop who is happily married, with one daughter and lives on a houseboat. His only problem is that he is clearly out of step with those higher up the hierarchy whose chief influence is politics and not the historical city that whose safety they are in charge of.

This book gives a great sense of the way that the melting pot of nationalities that is Amsterdam. Being set in Amsterdam there is no escaping the red light district, or RLD as the locals refer to it as, and in this first book some of the scenes are set there although thankfully the author avoided lurid detail.

In a novella the author has to get to the point and avoid superfluous details while still painting a realistic picture; Daniel Pembery did this and I felt fully satisfied when I turned the last page. There is plenty of action, I got a good sense of Henk’s character as well as his wife and daughter. His superior officers verged on the stereotypical but again bearing in mind the length of the book, he did well not to go too far in this direction.

I am looking forward to finding out what Henk does in the next two stories in this collection.


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

14 thoughts on “The Harbour Master – Daniel Pembrey

  1. Sometimes I think that the ‘fights with the superiors’ has become too much of a cliche in crime fiction – but then I go into my corporate world and I don’t think I’ve ever come across a group that doesn’t have something to moan about ‘senior management’. So it’s just a fact of life…


    1. It is a difficult issue, I think we are designed to pick holes in those who tell us what to do, so it will be reflected in a very hierarchal structure such as the police but I know what you mean, you don’t want to wade through pages of disagreements, fortunately Daniel managed to get the point across without labouring it.


  2. Very glad you liked this, Cleo! It’s coming up very soon in my TBR, so it’s good to know I have something to look forward to reading 🙂


  3. Sounds good! Some crime short stories do work, but on the whole I agree – novella length gives more room to make them a bit more complex. Looking forward to hearing what you think of the other two… 🙂


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