I have read the 148th book for the book challenge. It was The Square Of Revenge: The Pieter Van Ip Mysteries By Pieter Aspe.
The De Groof jewelry store has been broken into, the police discover one night as they patrol Bruges, Belgium. An investigation reveals that everything is gone and a note left in Latin. It is a Latin cross. But a more disturbing thing is found. The jewelry was not taken, but dumped into an acid bath in the shop that dissolved all the precious metal. Who would do such destruction?
Pieter Van Ip, Commissioner and Hannalore Martens, Deputy Magistrate, set out on their investigations. They try without success to interview the elder Degroof, Ludovic De Groof. He wants absolutely no publicity on this matter. Why?
The pair find his daughter Aurelie in an insane hospital. She has been there for years. Why? Hannalore interviews another daughter Nathalie, a heroine addict. She tells a tale of incest, of her sister Aurelie’s abortion and subsequent hopsitalization, of her sister Benedicta’s run to a monastery. Now they can see why the elder de Groof wants no publicity.
Then De Groof’s grandchild, Betrand Delahaye, is kidnapped. They received a fax of the Latin cross as a proof that the kidnappers have him. It is the same people who trashed the jewelry store. They are demanding that Patrick Delahaye, the boy’s father, burn a number of multimillion dollar paintings in the public square of Bruge on a certain date or they will kill the boy.
Van Ip and Martens figure out that one of the kidnappers is a very tall young man with an eye problem and the other is an older man. They start to look for them.
Van Ip is convinced that the elderly man is Aquilin Verhaye, formerly De Groof’s best friend. They both knew the Latin cross, but supposedly Verhaye has been dead for two years. But the birth date on the tombstone is not right. Van Ip is convinced that Aquilin switched identities and is alive. He pursues this line of investigation. But preparation for the burning of the paintings goes on.
On the day of the burning, Delahaye fakes fainting so that the team can make a raid on the farm villa where they think Betrand is being held. The team finds that Aquilin is dead of natural causes and they rescue Betrand. They radio to call off the burning and Daniel, the tall man, tries to escape. He is caught.
Aquilin was the lover of De Groof’s wife. He had an affair with her after De Groof was married. De Groof thought that Aurelie was Aquilin’s daughter and raped her. She bore De Groof’s child, who was Daniel. Then she was hospitalized. But she was not Aquilin’s daughter. The second daughter, Nathalie, was Aquilin’s daughter.
Van Ip and Hannalore have worked closely together through the case and have grown together. They spend the night together. Van Ip explains the case to Hannalore. She hopes they work together again. At any rate, they will be seeing more of each other.
This was a fascinating book. The plot was very good. Van Ip is tenacious in his search for the truth. He confront De Groof time and time again to get to the truth. He and Hannalore make a good team in this investigation. I really liked this story.