Oh, Sweet Child O' Mine

"There's enough chocolate in there to fill every bathtub in the entire country! And all the swimming pools as well!"
- Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 1964)
Last month, I came across a collectible curio, The Dell Mapbacks (1997), during a minor rearrangement in order to create shelf space and it wasn't the only forgotten "bibelot" I rediscovered during this project.

The unimaginatively titled De moord uit woede (Murder Out of Anger, 1998) is a little book of sixty-odd pages containing a script of an episode of the TV-series Baantjer, based on the characters created by the late A.C. Baantjer, and were commissioned by Droste B.V. – a Dutch chocolate manufacture. Peter Römer tasked one of the series regular scenario-writers, Gerrit Mollema, with fleshing out an idea, and the result was the episode/book Murder Out of Anger. The book was send out gratis with free chocolate, if you wrote Droste and asked for it, but that wasn't public knowledge until people began noticing overpriced copies surfacing on the internet a few years later.

"Our Day Begins, When Yours Ends."
I'm sure there were a few who shelled out a couple of bucks for this "rare" edition, and boy, they must've been disappointed when finding out they even paid the postage for something they could've gotten for absolutely nothing and were denied the goodliness of the free chocolate samples. That's just a torturous state of being for the cheap penny-pinching tight-fisted Calvinistic nature of the Dutch, but than again, I think Sir Simon Milligan was C.E.O of the company at the time.

Anyhow, the story is better than I remember from the episode, which I recall as being only so-so, but the scenario for Murder Out of Anger is remarkably well written, plotted and even clued. Opening scene is of a group of soccer playing children looking for their ball in the shrubbery when one of them stumbles over the body of woman. Inspector DeKok (Yes, I'm using the spelling from the English translations here) and Vledder are called-in and they are able to make a quick identification by following up on a missing person’s report filled a few hours before.

Martine de Wech was a partner in a stockbroker's firm and heir to her father's multi-million business empire, "De Wech Chocolade," but her unusual private (and professional) life leaves DeKok with more half-motives and half-alibis than are needed in a murder enquiry. Martine's husband, Pepijn Drijver, is a talented pianist/composer laboring for the past decade on an operatic masterpiece, called "Bismarck," but Pepijn is completely absorbed in this work – and Martine looked elsewhere to get Pepijn couldn’t give her. There's also a disgruntled, ex-collegue who kept bothering her on account of having ruined his career and with many millions changing hands in the background, there’s more than enough suspicion to go around.

Murder Out of Anger is a fairly dark story, if you get down to the barebones and resolution of the plot, but there's still a humorous undercurrent to the story in the playful insults/comments the characters bounce of each other. I also appreciated the scene in which DeKok unwisely allows the deceived wife of Martine's lover in on a round of questioning with her husband or Vledder ignorantly accusing Pepijn of commercialism by riding the coattail of the Titanic-hype with his opera about the Bismarck, because it sank too. However, the biggest joke in this book is that as a product of pure commercialism it gives its consumer a grotesque exaggeration of First World problems of the Upper Class with a bleak message: there's no hope. I know this sounds terribly dramatic, but every bit of good and humanity that could be saved and nurtured back to health was violently stomped out by the end. No. I don't remember the original episode being this depressing 

Well, this review has taken a turn for the worse, but while the subject material of Murder Out of Anger can be on the depressing side it has a decent enough plot and it's publishing history/double life as a TV episode makes it a fun collectible to own.  

Speaking of decent writing: I feel like I gutted through this review like it was the wee hours on the Sunday morning of September 30, 1888 again.


  1. I can't even start to imagine how a morning in 1888 must have been.

    Going through something Dutch too now! Might take a while before the review appears though...

    1. Well, I was referring to the morning when Jack the Ripper killed two victims in the span of an hour and that's pretty much how I gutted through this review.

      I'm guessing the something Dutch is (finally) a District Heuvelrug novel?

    2. Not even close! I hope to finish it this weekend, so maybe a review next week? (I need to shuffle a bit with my review schedule though... I have enough unposted reviews to last me more than a month!)

      And: aaaaaaaaaaha. Makes sense. I'm not unfamiliar with JTR, but I just didn't make the connection ^^'

  2. TomCat, it's as if you're speaking a foreign language here...