Item description for The Dinner Club by Saskia Noort, Paul Vincent, Kathi Trawver, William Boelhower, Russell Bell, Paul Collier & Jon Buller...
Overview On a cold winter's night, an elegant villa goes up in flames. Evert Struyck, happily married, father of two and successful business man, dies in the fire. His wife, Babette and the children manage to escape. This story talks about a group of people desperately hanging on to the outer varnish of their lives, at any cost.
Publishers Description When Evert dies in his burning villa, everything points to suicide. The other members of the 'dinner club', a group of five women who meet regularly and whose husbands do business together, rally around to support Babette, his grieving widow. But events soon spiral out of control. Within weeks a member of the club falls from the balcony of a hotel and dies. Something is poisoning their smug world of flashy 4x4s, coffee mornings and wine-filled evenings and bringing death in its wake. This is a tale about people desperate to hang on to the trappings of success - at any cost.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 5.25" Height: 7.75" Weight: 0.55 lbs.
Release Date Apr 1, 2007
Publisher Bitter Lemon Press
ISBN 1904738206 ISBN13 9781904738206
Availability 0 units.
More About Saskia Noort, Paul Vincent, Kathi Trawver, William Boelhower, Russell Bell, Paul Collier & Jon Buller
Saskia Noort, 38, is a free-lance journalist and she writes regular features for, among others, the Dutch editions of Marie Claire and Playboy. Her first thriller, Back to the Coast, was published in 2003 and has sold over 150,000 copies in the Netherlands. The Dinner Club followed in 2004 and, with over 300,000 sold.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Dinner Club?
Confusing at the end, but pervaded with a quiet menace Sep 25, 2008
After Karen moved into the village from Amsterdam with her husband, Michel, and their two daughters, it took her a while to make friends. But finally she found Hanneke, and through her three other woman, and the five of them became fast friends. They dubbed themselves "The Dinner Club" and became a mutual support group--they drank and ate and vacationed together, watched one another's kids. Their husbands did business together. But when the book opens one of their houses is on fire. Someone dies. And the tragedy, together with another which follows shortly afterward, lays bare various truths, among them that the relationships among the members of the Club are more superficial than Karen had supposed. Nor were the members' five marriages as happy as she had supposed.
Saskia Noort's The Dinner Club follows the downward trajectory of the Club's relationships. As things disintegrate, Karen comes increasingly to suspect that the fire was fueled by something more than middle-aged angst and alcohol. The book is filled with a quiet menace, and Noort does a great job of keeping us guessing, our suspicions alighting now on one character, now another. After this slow, steady build-up of tension the book's conclusion, an explosion of violence, is jarring. It doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the book. The conclusion also left me thinking I might have to re-read some chapters to figure out what, precisely, was the truth behind the complex of relationships among the five Dinner Club members and their husbands.
The Dinner Club, which was originally pubished in Dutch in 2004, has been a best-seller in the Netherlands, and film rights to the book have been sold. It would, I think, translate well to the screen.
Good Summer Read Jul 19, 2007
This is not a literary masterpiece of mystery writing a la Ruth Rendall, but a good summer read.
You can finish it in a few train rides or on the beach.
The characters are at first interesting but become stock figures by the end. The one sour note for me was the obvious dyke stereotype of the female detective (who turned out to be straight) who's character never added anything to the plot except for a cheesy device where she knew one of the other characters because he had cheated her father but there really wasn't any depth to the side story.
Although I've only given the negatives, I still felt it was a worthwhile read. The plot goes back a forth in time and I liked this device for this story, but I would have really wanted more in the way of character development. I believe Ms. Noort has talent and I look forward to reading more novels by her and hope she develops her skills in storytelling.
Disappointing Apr 28, 2007
I agree with a previous reviewer that the writing was sort of banal. It seemed like a true representation of the point of view of the character Karen. And I feel a little unfair in knocking the book for not being something else.
It was interesting to see the depiction of the lives of a certain strata of dutch society. Except for the frequent use of bicycles, things seem pretty much the same as the analogous suburban american social set.
fine Dutch mystery Apr 5, 2007
The inferno destroyed the villa killing wealthy Evert Struyck; his wife Babette was injured but their two children, Luuk and Beau, managed to escape. Babette's four female friends (Karen van de Made, Patricia Vogel, Hanneke Lemstra and Angela Bijlsma) who make up along with her the female part of "the dinner club" couples, try to help the distraught woman. Adding to the shock is that the police found Evert's "farewell" note in his car asking the others for forgiveness leading to the police to conclude suicide.
However, not long afterward Hanneke falls from a hotel balcony. Unable to ignore what is happening to her friends and fearing her family is next, Karen begins to piece together the motive behind the two deaths as she begins to understand that The Dinner Club and its male spousal equivalent are tied not by friendship and caring, but by crime and adultery.
The tale starts off as an extended family drama in which the audience sees how each of the surviving seven members of the Dinner Club and their offspring cope with the first death of one of them though that look is mostly filtered by Karen. Half way into the story, when Karen calls to speak to Hanneke, but instead gets an Amsterdam cop the story line turns into an amateur sleuth mystery. Thus the audience will know the key players at least through the Karen sieve before the thriller kicks into first gear. Well written but somewhat slow at first, this is a fine Dutch mystery.
Tremendously Disappointing Apr 5, 2007
After finishing this Dutch import, it's not at all clear what took this book to the bestseller list in Holland, nor why anyone would find it necessary to publish it in translation. The back cover asks the reader to: "Imagine Desperate Housewives scripted by Patricia Highsmith." The Desperate Housewives part is dead on, but any comparisons to Patricia Highsmith are purely aspirational and way off the mark in realization.
The story focuses on Karen, a married mother of two who has moved to a village somewhere in the Amsterdam suburbs. She's a self-employed graphic designer, her husband's a TV producer, and they've fled the city for a better life for their children. The story charts their transition to full yuppiedom, as they meet several other white collar city transplants with kids and plenty of cash. Of course all is not well behind the facade of designer clothes, fancy cars, and upscale foodstuffs. When one of their circle dies in a fire apparently of his own devising, doubts, suspicion, and recrimination threatens to destroy the circle of friends, not to mention their own marriages.
The chief problem here is that who cares? A bunch of wealthy yuppies wreck their lives due to their shallow greed and selfish desires. So what? Why should anyone care a whit for their squabbles and self-inflicted misery? We spend page after page with Karen as she agonizes over whether or not to cheat on her husband, whether or not her new friends really like her, which of her new friends is her best friend, etc. This is not thriller material -- this is Sweet Valley High material.
The secondary problem is that the writing is utterly banal (this is not the fault of the translator, who has done some fine work elsewhere). Here's a representative sample of Noort's prose from pages 147-48: "I had no idea what I felt: was I in love with him or just a bored mother longing for risk and adventure? At the same time I was consumed by a fear as violent and stormy as the wind outside. I was as much afraid of _______ as I wanted him, but I was even more afraid of myself, of the feeling that drove me towards him and over which I seemed to have no control. Self-destruction, that's the name of the game I was playing." If you like that sample, well, there's plenty more where it came from.
Finally, the book doesn't have much to offer those of us who read crime from other countries in order to gain insight to foreign cultures. Other than smoking cigars on a regular basis and a propensity to hop on a bike instead of into a cab, the Dutch yuppies at the heart of this book might just as well be living just outside London or Houston, or any number of Western cities. Overall, the paint-by-numbers plotting, utterly shallow characters, and awful prose result in a tremendously disappointing book.