I’m happy to once again bring you a book from the Katla Sieltjes series, one of my favorite modern-day series about the bad-ass assassin Katla! I reviewed both Book 1 and Book 2 in the series, and this new one is an amazing continuation in a great series.
Freelance assassin and corporate troubleshooter Katla Sieltjes runs her business of disguising homicide below the radar of law enforcement, but when her latest target is a judas goat intended to draw her out into the open, the hunter becomes the hunted.
Fooling local law enforcement can be challenging, but hiding from intelligence communities aiming to enlist Katla for their dirty work might prove impossible.
With Homeland Security, DEA, and the German BKA joining forces with Dutch Intelligence in an effort to track down Loki Enterprises, not only Katla’s future is threatened, but also the lives of her lover and his friends.
My Review: 5 Stars
I breezed through this book in a couple of days—I just couldn’t put it down! From the first page, the rich descriptions of Amsterdam (and other cities the characters visit) drew me in, and it was a true pleasure to return to the world of Katla, Bram, and the other awesome characters created by the author.
The story was fast-paced, with not a dull moment. I can’t wait until I get to read the next book in the series!
Here’s a Taste:
Unlike his girlfriend, Bram Merleyn seemed unperturbed by the situation. Or maybe it was the VIP lounge instead of an interrogation room. He had taken off his shoes, and sat cross-legged on a leather sofa, hands resting on his knees. Together with the half-smile on his face, the blind man exuded a Zen-like calm, as if he was detained by the police on a regular basis. Polak planted the tripod and switched on the camera while the Chief Inspector sighed and took a seat opposite Merleyn.
“I’m sorry,” Basalt said. “This must be quite a blow for you.”
“This?” Merleyn tilted his head. “You have to be more specific.”
“Your girlfriend being questioned for killing someone.” The Chief Inspector paused, then said, “How long have you known her?”
“Long enough.” Merleyn rolled his head like a boxer. “Long enough to know you’re wrong.”
“Absolutely. Business is war, but she’s only shrewd and ruthless within the confines of a boardroom.”
“Strange. I look at your girlfriend and I see a headstrong young woman. Not the type to cuddle babies or pet puppies, but the cool executive type.”
“With the emphasis on executive, right?” Merleyn gave him a smug smile. “She works in a male-dominated environment, where femininity equals subservience. To command respect she projects a tough image. Apparently convincing enough to fool you.”
“You’re saying her attitude is an affectation? I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that. I saw her stab a man to death.”
“Stab?” Merleyn leaned forward. “With a knife?”
Merleyn flashed the Chief Inspector a wry smile. “Quite an achievement for someone who cannot stand the sight of blood.”
“What do you mean?”
“She can’t even look at a rare steak without going woozy.”
“We recorded her every move.” The Chief Inspector’s soft voice grew apologetic. “She killed someone in front of a security camera.”
Merleyn sat up straight again. “Seeing is believing.”
“You don’t believe me?”
“If you have her on tape, what are you talking to me for?”
“Meaning, she wouldn’t tell you anything.” Merleyn snorted. “Maybe she made the correct assessment and I should follow her lead.”
“You paint a different picture than what I’ve seen so far,” Basalt said. “You sound convincing, but can you prove she’s like you say she is?”
“Prove?” Merleyn titled his head. “You’ve seen her limp?”
“Did she tell you how she got it?”
Basalt shrugged. “I didn’t ask.”
“Last summer she spent a week in England for business meetings. I wasn’t able to accompany her, I had other commitments.”
“What is it you do?”
“I’m a musician. Anyway, she rented a motorcycle to ride around the countryside. Her way of unwinding. Despite her considerable experience riding motorcycles she ran off the road into a fence and skewered her thigh.” Merleyn paused to let it sink in. “You know what caused that accident? She nearly killed herself swerving to avoid running over a hedgehog. She might not look the type to pet puppies, but appearances might be deceiving.”
The Chief Inspector fell silent. Polak was still translating the last words and the blind man cocked his head. His English was impeccable. “Do I have an audience?”
“A small one,” Polak said. “I’m also with Amsterdam Municipal Police, and translating for a colleague from the United States, Ms. Cohn.”
Laure automatically inclined her head, sighed at her own stupidity, and said, “Hello.”
“What agency are you from, Ms. Cohn?”
“What makes you think I’m from an agency, Mr. Merlin?”
“It’s Merleyn. You’re too far from home for local or state police. What are you? FBI? CIA?”
“Mr. Merleyn,” Basalt interrupted. “You implied that your girlfriend affected a tough attitude.”
“I didn’t imply anything.” Merleyn turned back slowly to the Chief Inspector and spoke in measured tones. “I know she affects a tough attitude and I told you the reasons why to save you confusion on the issue.”
“Could you be wrong about this?”
Merleyn didn’t hesitate. “No.”
“Are you telling me you’re infallible?”
“Can I have some water?” Merleyn held out his hand with the commanding presence of someone used to having his wishes fulfilled. Basalt nodded at Polak, who went to the water fountain in the corner and filled a plastic cup. His free hand touched Merleyn’s wrist before he lowered the cup in the blind man’s grip. Merleyn drank the water and licked his lips. “Thanks.”
“So,” Basalt said. “How do you—”
“How long have we known each other?” Merleyn smiled in the Chief Inspector’s direction with an easy familiarity. “You and me?”
Basalt steepled his fingers. “I don’t think we met before today.”
“Right.” Merleyn put his hands together, as if unconsciously mirroring the Chief Inspector, then pointed at Basalt with his fingertips. “How do I know you are fifty‑plus years old, smoke cigars, don’t pay much attention to trends or fashion, are overweight, Protestant, and recently divorced?”
Basalt moved back imperceptibly, as if Merleyn had pushed him back in his chair.
Merleyn placed his hands on his knees again. “Am I right?”
“Yes. Yes, you are. How did you guess?”
“I didn’t ‘guess’, Chief Inspector. I pay attention.”
“Don’t try to reduce my deduction to a parlour trick. You’re easy to read. You refer to my girlfriend as a ‘young woman’, so you’re obviously twenty or more years older. The cigars wasn’t difficult, nor the trends and fashion bit. The atrocious scent you doused yourself in to mask the smell of your unwashed body can’t have set you back more than a few euro. The floor vibrated as you entered the lounge, you wheezed when you sat and the chair complained under your weight. And like most married Protestants, you used to wear a wedding band on your right hand, long enough to form the indentation I noticed when I shook your hand.”
Basalt folded his arms. “I could’ve been a widower.”
“Doubtful,” Merleyn said. “If your wife had died, you would’ve worn both your wedding bands to honour her.”
“Not my wife,” Basalt said, drawing a chuckle from Polak.
Merleyn didn’t crack a smile. “You’re too bitter to have lost your wife. So she left you.”
“Listen, we’re not here to—”
“You missed the point, Basalt. I don’t care about you. Now, if I know this much about you after,” Merleyn ran his finger over his watch, “seventeen minutes, imagine how much I know about the woman I live with and actually care about. You arrested the wrong person. I’d know if my lover has homicidal tendencies.”
The Chief Inspector held up his hands. “Ms. Sieltjes is being questioned, not arrested.”
“You saw her kill someone and you didn’t arrest her?” Merleyn wrinkled his nose. “You ought to be ashamed, lying to the blind. Your evidence is virtually non‑existent, isn’t it?”
“We have a recording of your girlfriend committing a murder, Merleyn.”
“Something that would hold up in court? That would unmistakably show my lover, a respectable and successful businesswoman, without a criminal record or even a parking ticket to her name, stab someone to death despite having an aversion to blood?”
The silence in the room became oppressive. Merleyn leaned forward and said, “You know what I’d do? I’d swallow my pride and apologise to her before she’ll make you eat your mistake in court.”
About the Author:
Martyn V. Halm lives in Amsterdam with two children, two cats, two rats, and countless imaginary characters vying for attention.
Writing realistic crime fiction is hard work, especially when you’re a stickler for verisimilitude. When your protagonist is a seasoned killer, research can take you right up to Nietzsche’s abyss. Luckily, things get easier after the first few killings…
Apart from being an accomplished prevaricator, Martyn already possessed an eclectic variety of skills that qualified him to write the Amsterdam Assassin Series. Skills he shares with his deadly fictional characters…
Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GO6VQ8O/
Read Martyn’s thoughts on his blog: http://amsterdamassassin.wordpress.com/
And his website http://tao-of-violence.weebly.com/