Love in Amsterdam by Nicolas FreelingLove in Amsterdam by Nicolas Freeling
Series: Van der Valk #1
Published by Hanover Square Press on January 5, 2021 (first published January 1, 1962)
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery, Police Procedural
Pages: 192
Format: Paperback
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Meet Van Der Valk, Amsterdam’s best detective, in Nicolas Freeling’s classic novel

A woman, Elsa, is brutally murdered in her Amsterdam apartment. Her ex-lover, Martin, is seen outside the building around the time of the crime. The witness who saw him? A policeman.

It looks like a straightforward case—but police inspector Van der Valk is not convinced. Despite all the evidence—and the fact that Martin originally denied he was at the apartment—he believes Martin is not guilty of murder. Instead of charging him, Van der Valk takes him on a tour: a tour of the investigation, a tour of Martin’s own past and a tour into the darkly obsessive world of Elsa…

Love in Amsterdam was not what I expected. I have not watched the tv series, the cover just grabbed my attention when I was browsing at a bookstore a few weeks ago. From the blurb, I expected a typical, maybe dated, police procedural, and we get a little of that, but more about the relationship between the dead woman and the number one suspect.

The mystery revolves around a woman named Elsa who is shot one evening in her apartment. The murder occurs about the same time that Martin, a former lover, happens to be walking on the same street where Elsa’s apartment is located, seen by a policeman. Van Der Valk, our Dutch detective, decides to bring Martin in and question him. The first section is Van Der Valk’s questioning Martin. The second section is the backstory of Martin and Elsa’s relationship. The third section is Van Der Valk solving the murder with help from Martin of course.

It’s a strange book. Van Der Valk is clever and thoughtful, but I’m not really sure about his tactics. The part that goes into Martin and Elsa’s relationship is long and while very descriptive and colorful, more than I really needed considering how little it had to do with the case. The book is more drama than mystery. But it did keep me reading and kept me interested. I’m not sure I’ll pick up the next in the series though.

  • Unlikeable charcters
  • More interested in relationships than the case

About Nicolas Freeling

Nicolas Freeling born Nicolas Davidson, (March 3, 1927 – July 20, 2003) was a British crime novelist, best known as the author of the Van der Valk series of detective novels. A television series based on the character was produced for the British ITV network by Thames Television during the 1970s, and revived in 1991–92 and again in 2020.

Freeling was born in London, but travelled widely, and ended his life at his long-standing home at Grandfontaine to the west of Strasbourg. He had followed a variety of occupations, including the armed services and the catering profession. He began writing during a three-week prison sentence, after being convicted of stealing some food.

Freeling’s The King of the Rainy Country received a 1967 Edgar Award, from the Mystery Writers of America, for Best Novel. He also won the Gold Dagger of the Crime Writers’ Association, and France’s Grand Prix de Littérature Policière.


  • The setting intrigues me, mostly because I’ve been to Amsterdam and it’s a fun place to read about, but I’m not sure I’d love the story.

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