Review: Lonely Graves by Britta Bolt
Highlights: The relationships between the characters are fairly complex; many characters' storylines intersect or overlap in surprising ways.
I love a good mystery, thriller, or crime series. In author Britta Bolt’s novel Lonely Graves, I get all three. One of the best novels I have read in a while, Lonely Graves offers a whopping dose of excitement, and because it is subtitled as The Posthumus Trilogy Book One, that means there is more good writing to come with this promising new series.
Lonely Graves follows the misadventures of Amsterdam’s Lonely Funerals team. Part of Amsterdam’s Department of Emergencies and Internment, the Lonely Funerals team has the unappreciated task of following up on the city’s unclaimed, and often unknown, dead in an effort to get the deceased back to their loved ones. If they cannot find someone willing to claim the body, then the team serves as the chief mourners at the funerals they organize. It’s a thankless job, but a necessary one.
New to the Lonely Funerals team is Pieter Posthumus. His last name is very close in spelling to “posthumous,” which means occurring or awarded after death. The irony of his name’s meaning as it is connected to his job isn’t lost on Pieter.
The first book in the series, Lonely Graves, begins with the recovery of a young Moroccan man’s body from the city’s canals. At first, the man’s death looks accidental, as if he simply fell into the water and drowned. But, Posthumus has an uneasy feeling that there is more to this young Muslim’s death than meets the eye. Considering the police, who play a secondary but important role in the unfolding events, are currently investigating a supposed terrorist plot by the Moroccan Muslims of that city, then perhaps Posthumus is onto something after all! Getting in way over his head, Posthumus quickly finds himself entangled in a case that isn’t at all what it first appears to be.
Author Britta Bolt has created a fascinating concept with this new series, but perhaps one should first understand that “Britta Bolt” is a pseudonym for the two authors who penned Lonely Graves. Well-known author Rodney Bolt accounts for one-half of this writing team. He was born in South Africa, later moved to London, and is now a naturalized Dutch citizen living in Amsterdam. For years, Rodney Bolt was a travel writer, but he later turned to playwriting as well as fiction. The other half of this fabulous team is Britta Böhler, a criminal attorney. She was born in West Germany, but later became a Dutch citizen as well. She holds political office, and has written several pieces related to the law.
As for their writing, the authors have cooked up a plausible tale that will both excite and intrigue readers. The plot is so carefully crafted that no detail can be dismissed as being unimportant. The characters are pleasant, but flawed. Even Posthumus has idiosyncrasies. For one, he’s a snappy dresser and a little bit of a neat freak. He almost reminds one of Agatha Christie’s determined detective, Hercule Poirot. Overall, though, the novel simply works, and it is a pleasure to read. The only drawback, if it is one, is that some American readers may have difficulty with the Dutch and Muslim names.
Although Lonely Graves was written and originally released in 2012, it’s just making its way to English and Australian readers now. Hopefully, American readers won’t be long behind them in discovering this new series!