Re: RARA-AVIS: Baantjer

From: Etienne Borgers (
Date: 26 Oct 2002

As complement to Jim's interesting introduction, I would like to add some comments about this Baantjer's series from the Netherlands. I knew the writer but never had read any of his novels; these, funny enough, were NOT translated in French, even with the pass over that normally Belgium is (a bilingual country: French and Flemish -a slight variation of Dutch).

Even if known and followed in the Flemish part of Belgium, De Cock 's series is not a huge popular success there, and it was never translated in French as far as I know, exercise that would be easy in that country.

I finally found here a book by A.C. Baantjer: " De Cock en danse macabre", 1991 (De Cock and the Danse Macabre) in Dutch, its original language
(published by Fontein Paperback). OK, my Dutch is a little bit rusty now, but living in Belgium it is slowly coming back, and certainly good enough to read Baantjer's prose.

To answer some of Jim's questions:
- it's certainly not hard-boiled (in the way we understand it in R-A)
- the dialog is somewhat colloquial from time to time, but not to the extend of using tough slang. And colloquial is more something as "familiar language" here.

On the other hand it is true that Baantjer is good at creating moods and evoking Amsterdam. A friend of mine - a specialist in popular literature- who is deeply interested in whodunits, and their modern variations, red quite a number of De Cock's series and he told me that a second interest was to see all along the years the evolution of Amsterdam in Baantjer's books, which was in tune with the real evolution of Amsterdam as a cosmopolitan city that became even more "international" the last 15 years.

Albert Cornelis Baantjer also wrote two books of "memoirs", based on his own experience as police detective (rechercheur) in Amsterdam. In 'Danse Macabre', the ageing De Cock explains to Vledder, his assistant, that the boss of the Fontein publishing house is in contact with him to :
...publish his memoirs in which he will explain all the difficult investigations he, De Cock, had to solve during his long lasting career as police detective... Amusing mix of reality and fiction, as Fontein is publishing Baantjer.

E.Borgers Hard-boiled Mysteries ===> see a new article: NIPPON NOIR

At 18:10 23-09-02 -0700, you wrote:
>This week I'll be looking at a few cop-writers from
>other parts of the world. First up: Albert Cornelis
>Baantjer of the Netherlands.
>Baantjer spent more than 25 years as a homicide
>detective in the Amsterdam police. After retiring, he
>began a long series of novels featuring a Maigret-like
>Amsterdam cop named DeCock. There are now over 50
>books in the series, which began appearing in the
>early '60s. about 30 or 40 of them have been
>translated and published in the US. Oddly, in the
>American editions the character's name is spelled
>"DeKok," apparently because of the sexual connotation
>in the word "cock."

# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
#  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 26 Oct 2002 EDT