An upscale Amsterdam restaurant and an opportunity for an evening of conviviality. But brothers Serge and Paul are there with their wives, not to enjoy themselves, but to resolve a dilemma they never imagined they would face: their teenage sons have been in involved in a distressing crime that although caught on CCTV, leaves the boys unidentifiable except to their parents. In their efforts to decide on a course of action, old sibling rivalries are laid bare, juxtaposed with their instinctive desire to protect their own.
This riveting story offers up the conflicted morality of modern life while serving as a disturbing reminder of how thin the veneer of civilised behaviour truly is.
Comments from Groups
The style initially is cynical and negative but this seems to fade, or perhaps one becomes accustomed to it. We were surprised by the violence, deceived by the smoke and mirrors, annoyed by the inaccurate medical information (at least the doctors were) but generally had a robust discussion, as we had been intrigued enough to finish the book. Auckland 166
A book which had a mixed reception. We all, however, found it thought provoking, and discussed patterns of violence, how co-dependent relationships work, and what is 'really loving' your children etc Lower Hutt 004
A good holiday read. I found it quite chilling, and had trouble putting it down. A great discussion resulted from various 'issues' in the story. Whangamata 002
Not really believable. Writing style fine, but author did not portray relationships as we understand them. The story had potential but didn't quite deliver, and took a very long time to unfold. Auckland 050
This book provoked a vigorous discussion. A powerful, disturbing read that exposes many issues confronting modern parenting ! Hokianga 001
Some liked the book because of the twists and the way they unfolded over the meal. Some thought it would make a good movie, or make a great play. Some did not enjoy the book, and didn't have any sympathy for the characters. We had a good discussion for a book which was not enjoyed by most. Thames 005
Most people enjoyed the story, and the twists and turns that the plot provided.
No one in our group really enjoyed this book, mainly due to the unlikeability of almost all the characters. The whole setting was a little difficult to relate to. Moments of humour!
Mixed reaction - confusing at times but great style of humorous writing. Resulted in a lively discussion and many more ideas.
An interesting storyline, rather disturbing. A few too many loose ends and unlikely events.
This book was not loved by our members. It was hard to have any sympathy for any of the characters as were unlikeable. One member gave it a 1/5 others 2/3 out of 5. A lot didn't enjoy the detailed descriptions of the food and some didn't finish it.
This was one of those rare books that everyone in the group enjoyed. Some read it in just a couple of sittings because they found it too compelling to stop reading, one member deliberately slowed her reading pace down so she could savour the writing style. We liked the way your sympathy for the characters changed throughout the book, liked the use of dinner courses to lead you through the plot, and the way it evoked a range of emotions in the reader. There were a few flaws, but we forgave the writer these because we'd enjoyed the book so much. All are planning to look for more by this author.
Although a compelling read, not one member enjoyed the book. The plot was slow to unfold but gained momentum in both pace and horror as it progressed. There was much discussion, from Dutch culture to European behaviour to city youth night time activity worldwide in these times. Lots of dark humour bordering on satire gave lighter relief. We found it unbelievable that one mother knew of the incident from the beginning and deviously protected her son even as other family members discussed the impact on their lives.
This is a book we loved to hate and hated to love. Such complex characters and unexpected twists.
Generally the group liked the book, and it led to an interesting discussion. It was well-structured, easy to read, and the shocking revelations kept coming. The discussion was more about, "How would we react" than about the book itself. We would recommend this one to other groups.
This was a good read, but we found the content difficult. Created a good discussion.
Overall the group felt the book was good in the way it portrayed how low some people will go in order to protect their own interests. The characters in the book were very unpleasant and lacked humanity towards others worse off than themselves. There was a lot of unnecessary description about the food in the restaurant.
An interesting read - a challenging moral/ethical dilemma. We had a lively discussion about what readers would do in the same situation.
This book certainly got everyone talking! A compelling but horrifying read.