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Crime novels of Appie Baantjer translate well to TV

Author awarded Dutch mystery prize

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

HILVERSUM, the Netherlands - The sixty crime novels written by Appie Baantjer (80) have achieved a huge following among readers in the Netherlands. A television series based on the cases investigated by fictional Amsterdam police detective De Cock and his adjutants reaches even more people.

Recently, the 100th episode of the series which was launched nine years ago, aired on Dutch channel RTL4. ‘De Cock and the Murder of a Clown’ again had a number of wellknown actors and other performers in guest roles, as has been the case with many of the other episodes.

Detective Jurriaan de Cock, who always has to spell out his name (cee-oh-cee-kay) since most Dutch people would assume it to be De Kok, has been portrayed since episode one by veteran Piet Römer. He is the embodiment of the older, slightly disheveled plain-clothes po-liceman, in part based on Baantjer himself.

Mr. Baantjer worked for a record 27 years as a police detective, in the same police station in Amsterdam, located on the notorious Warmoesstraat, right in the centre of one of the city’s busiest entertainment districts and in the Red Light district.

Five million in print

In large part due to the television series’ draw, the popularity of De Cock’s investigations in print has increased dramatically over the past number of years. In 2001, the 5 millionth copy of his books was sold, a number never before reached by a Dutch author. That year, Baantjer also was the best-selling Dutch author.

The first De Cock book was published in 1965. Baantjer’s literary exploits started in 1959, when he and Maurice van Dijk penned 5 x 8 grijpt in!: politie-ervaringen uit de grote stad (‘911 Responds: Police Experiences in the Big City’). At that time, the police alarm number was 88888, hence 5x8. The latest De Cock novel, (the 60th), was published in 2003 as ‘De Cock and No Excuse for Murder’

Few in translation yet

The series has been published in China, Russia, and Korea, while Ullstein has previously published the series in Germany (though rights reverted in 1989) and Inter-continental has published eight novels in the US, but passed on recent titles. Rights have never been sold in the UK. For U.S. markets, the name of the protagonist had been changed to Dekok. Some of the English translations are ‘Dekok and the Sorrowing Tomcat’ and ‘Dekok and the Naked Lady’. In the more recent ‘Murder in Amsterdam’ two De Cock plots were combined.

Albert Cornelis Baantjer, born on Urk, then still an island, recently was honoured with the first-ever Master Prize of the Society of Dutch-language Crime Writers. The society praises the author for the ‘un-Dutch scope’ of his work.

Episode 98 in the continuing De Cock-series - ‘De Cock and the Murder of Elvis’ - was seen by 3.144.000 viewers, a record for the series.