This is an extract from my first crime novel, Utrecht Snow. I love Utrecht, its a beautiful city. It was a shame to place so much crime in what appears on the surface to be such a law abiding city. But who knows what lies beneath? Covers of both my Utrecht books are photographs from Liselotte Gijzemijter. Her website is www.ligiphotography.com and is well worth a look,as she is very talented. Anyway, over to Kroonstraat Police Station in Utrecht:
At the morning briefing, Caes sat on the edge of his desk. He had a good team around him, they all worked well together. Freddie Meijer, he liked, he was young, so enthusiastic, he used his initiative and he was always asking questions, wanting to get better, wanting to improve. His fellow Police Agent was Maaike, his twin sister, she was lovely, and if possible had an even brighter future than Freddie.
Freddie was tall, blue eyed and blond with a chiselled face., a handsome young man, his sister Maaike was attractive as well, she had auburn hair with sparkling emerald green eyes. They were big and happy eyes.
“Oké, listen up everyone. We have had a resurgence of pickpocketing, especially around the Stadhuisbrug area, I want Freddie and Maaike to go plainclothes and just stroll around together for a couple of mornings, oké?” Caes said.
“Baas,” agreed Maaike, “Should I hold his hand?”
“Baas, please no!”
Freddie complained. Everyone else laughed.
“Moder always made me hold his hand when we went shopping, she says Freddie can’t be
trusted on his own.”
There was even more laughter as Freddie went redder by the moment.
“Anything you like, Maaike, but best hold onto your purse first.” Caes smiled.
He couldn’t understand why people had started delving into other peoples’ pockets during this weather, he’d have thought their fingers would have been frozen solid before they could start. Wasn’t everything tucked away, or did people not bother, thinking this would only happen during the summer. Oh well, such was life.
Madelon Verloet, one of the two Hoofdagenten, and most recent addition to the team spoke:
“As you know we had a nasty rape last week and as you know two sexual assaults last week. We know they are linked and we think we know who it is; we are waiting for DNA tests, but we’ll see. I’ll be looking after that and may need Maaike at some stage.”
Madelon was newly divorced and had moved from Tilburg, another attractive woman about the same age as Caes. She was professional and capable with a sense of humour most of the team were getting used to.
“An unprovoked attack on a French visitor, not sure if it was robbery or race related, but we need to have our wits about us, at the moment, it’s you, Danny and Adrie looking into it?” Caes asked.
“Yes, baas, we think it may be one of the Moroccan gangs going by early descriptions. The victim is concussed, but described them well, but still asking around… May or may not be linked to the pickpocketing so we’ll keep in touch with the Meijer siblings. But I think they will both need to take care.” Adrie said.
“That’s very thoughtful of you, Adrie,” Maaike smiled, “But knowing you are on the case as well, I feel so much safer already!”
“Oké dank for that, Maaike.” Caes intervened, “Right, I know that Ernst is still looking into this stolen car business?”
Ernst was a monster. Brigadier Ernst Hoewegen. Nearly two metres of solid muscle, a mountain of a man. He had an amazing moustache, just like Hoofdagent de Gier in van der Weterings Amsterdam Cops series of crime novels; but without the Zen influences. Ernst thought he was Gods’ gift to women, just like de Gier. He made Caes smile, but he was a hell of a police agent. He was unique at Kroonstraat. He could go back to his very first day at work and recall events that he had covered then or had read up in files. He was the ‘go to’ guy if you needed any information. He was like a magician. Ask him a question and he would always come up with the goods. They didn’t need computers when he was about. Sometimes staff thought he took files home to learn them off by heart. It didn’t do them any harm that’s for sure!
“We think it is a local gang, but I’ve some help from Organised Crime.”
He looked around the room.
“I have a few ideas of my own as to who it is, but need confirmation. Wait to be updated.”
Caes smiled, this meant they were doomed.
“Madelon is also looking at some violence towards some working girls by their pimps.” Caes said moving things along.
“Yes, we have seen quite a few girls with bruising recently and it seems that some pimps are becoming more violent. I cannot understand why. We know they don’t have to be with a pimp, but think this is affecting the foreign girls more than our Dutch ladies, so there may be more to it. The girls, as usual, aren’t too keen to talk, but again if Maaike and I can have some time to talk together and then interview the girls?”
“Yes, no problem. Do we interview the pimps?” Caes wondered aloud.
“We’ll have to see what their girls want us to do, it is pointless talking to the scum if we cannot prosecute them. They will just laugh at us.”
“It could make them think twice?” Caes ventured.
“That sort don’t think!” snarled Maaike, “We need to find a way to make them…”
There were murmurs of approval from the group.
Caes could not understand why the girls seemed to feel they needed a pimp for protection; still…
“This is when we should have some type of vigilante group, to beat the crap out of a few of them,” said Freddie with evident anger as red again flared up on his cheeks, but he was not embarrassed this time.
“I know it is difficult, Freddie, but we are the law and even though it might not seem to be working at times, we have to abide by it. I hope their time will come and I want to be there when it does, but in the meantime, we go with the flow.” Caes said grimly.
Caes truly believed this and wanted all his team to have a bit of faith in the system. It didn’t always work out, but more often than not it was successful.
“Leave this to Madelon, if anyone can persuade the girls to lodge a formal complaint I am sure it will be her.”
Madelon nodded just as grimly,
“I’ll try my best, baas, Freddie…”
“Do we need to talk to the Rode Knop?” Caes asked.
“The Rode what?” asked Danny.
“Prostitutes’ collective, Danny!” said Maaike sharply.
“Oh, yes, sorry Maaike.”
“I have an appointment fixed, we’ll see what they think.” Madelon said.
Looking at the group Caes moved on,
“Adrie, the increase in drunks, anything?”
“Baas, it’s not me, but I am talking to bar staff at a few targeted pubs and clubs. There is no real pattern.” Adrie laughed.
Hoofdagent Adrie Voelmans and Surveillant Danny Meeuwen were both good solid men. They were like two peas in a pod. Dark haired, both with beards. Danny was a little taller, but they were both very athletic and tough. They played rugby for our local team.
“Sorry, baas, one last thing, the friend you brought in this morning with you…” Freddie started.
“Agent Meijer…” Caes warned.
“Sorry, baas, anyway she reported her daughter missing, details on the sheet, one Elise Cuijper, no age known, but at Universiteit Utrecht, it’s odd though, strange she doesn’t seem to know too much about her.”
“A fantasist perhaps? She was quite strange; I shared my seat on the bus with her this morning.”
“Not sure, baas, but I recorded it all the same.”
“Oké, to recap. Madelon you will be teamleider on the rape case and also on the prostitutes. I’d
like Maaike to work as informative coördinator on both. Ernst remain teamleider for the cars, Danny informative and Adrie look after…”
Having allotted everyone a role, some with more than one, it was meeting over and they went their separate ways.
Caes loved Utrecht, it was the perfect place to him. Students overflowed in it while in term time, but, even though they were a city, it always seemed like a small village. They all knew each other. Walking across the Stadhuisbrug or along Vredenburg you would always see someone you knew. It did upset him that crime would always be there just like the poor, but they tried their best and kept taking them off the street. Sometimes though it didn’t seem quickly enough.
He went to his office to catch up on paperwork. They had so much on their plate at the moment as he had outlined in the briefing. There were reports on the sexual assaults, on the attack on the Frenchman, Utrecht didn’t want to get a reputation for being a no go area for tourists. Drunkenness could be controlled; it wasn’t usually nasty. It was the violence Caes didn’t like. The most worrying thing to him was the increased violence against prostitutes. More were appearing bruised or battered and they couldn’t see a reason for it. The girls didn’t need a pimp, they were free to act independently, but it seemed someone wanted to control them. He wondered if it was because of where they came from. Dutch girls knew the ropes and their hard-won rights. Foreign girls were another matter. They were soon going to face a crisis in this he was sure.
He badly needed to catch up on things he had put to one side. He didn’t fancy going outside again, his feet had just started to thaw out and he still felt damp and needed to warm up and get dry.