My Editorial Review for “INTENT TO DECEIVE”
In the creative and deceptive world of art what you see is not what you think you’re seeing.
During a conversation with a museum curator I was astonished to learn that almost eighty percent of paintings and art works we come across in our daily lives are copies of originals. In galleries, in museums, in exhibitions. The explanation however was logical. Copies are needed when the originals need maintenance or are on loan. Besides this, though, most of us cannot distinguish between the a good copy and the original – most are that well done. But if someone says its a van Gogh or a Picasso, we believe him – if it looks like one. After all, we’re there to view the works, to savour the impression they make on us – not to buy them. The exhibitors know that. And sending originals around the world to exhibitions is a risky and expensive business. Also, most collectors want the originals not only in safety but where they can enjoy them. I know, I would.
As I later discovered, though, not all works are copies. A lot are forgeries. But does it matter? Not to the majority, it doesn’t. But to me it did. I wanted to know more. I spent time in art museums and leading galleries and was appalled how little the experts really know. Or can put their feelings into simple words. I got the impression they wanted to show off rather than inform – to play on the ignorance of the listener. Rather like a guide entertaining a bunch of curious tourists.
My researches became the subject of a book in my Crime Mystery series. I entitled it Intent to Deceive. It became the third book in the DCS Frank Kruger series.
Most of the background story, including characters, locations and events, is based on my researches but is, nevertheless, a product of my imagination. I found my expeditions into the art world to be more colourful than I had ever imagined. It opened my eyes to how easily people are deluded, misled and defrauded. And not only are the admirers and connoisseurs on the receiving end, but also those who ply the trade – from the artist to the collector. I found it a colourful world of deceit. A world where the Latin warning caveat emptor applied first and foremost. Buyer beware.
The question plagued me, Why don’t we hear more about people being cheated and robbed in the world of art? Tasken to court more frequently. The answers I received form the back story to this book. However, I would like to repeat – the plot and characters are based on my personal experience in the business world and do not relate to any one person, situation or location I might have come across.
I hope you enjoy it.
ON WRITING “DEADLY REVENGE”
I came across the idea for this story while doing research for an earlier book. Only the incident itself (but less grisly) and the location are almost real. Everything else is a figment of my imagination. I found nothing on the Internet or in local papers of the moment to fill the reader in on the details or who was behind the assassination. Days later it was as if nothing had ever happened. I assume – as most other people, too – that the secret service and their political masters were covering up.
My book DEADLY REVENGE is a guess on my part of what went on behind the scenes until the culprits were finally caught.
While researching the story – as one reviewer rightly guesses – I devised a backstory of who these European terrorists were and dug deep into their psychological make-up, their mindset, their usage of the media and how they justify their brutal methods. The terrorist cell and the right-wing characters are the result of this digging. The persons are composits (to avoid possible recognition) and, for all I know, might have existed in reality.
I discovered quite a few examples of where bureaucracy and personal ambition in the upper echelons of police and politics impeded an investigation – and have built one such possibility into the story.
The figure of Andrea Christensen as well as her family are fictitious, but she is the one who keeps the investigation alive, guessing that the authorities are being impeded by politics – both internally and at state level. Especially as local elections are just round the corner and the right wing seems likely to make noticeable gains. She is prepared to sacrifice all and walks a high wire to ensure that her father didn’t die in vain.
While DCS Kruger fights to keep the now flailing investigation on track, Andrea, unaware of his internal problems and critical of the lack of progress being made, takes matters in hand and does her own investigation, but soon finds herself in danger of becoming a victim herself. Kruger is forced to allocate resources to protect her – which she arrogantly refuses much to his chagrin. She is above such considerations. She has a plan of her own.
The inspectors Mario Ziegler and Monika Tiller are again the lead officers on Kruger’s serious crime squad. This time they are forced to work with the counter-terrorism department whose concept of police work is vastly different to theirs and causes internal friction, pointing up what cooperation means in reality to the individuals involved when two methods of policing clash.
I chose Munich for the location of this crime series because it lies in the triangle of countries Germany, Austria and Switzerland and close to the Czech Republic and Italy – a perfet setting for international crime.
I enjoyed the research and writing of the story. I hope the reader does, too.
THE WINNER’S CURSE
I got the idea for this story while on an assignment in Switzerland at the same time as the investment bank Lehman Bros collapsed. Although the media gave wide coverage to the failure and its consequences for the financial markets, to an insider the real causes were hardly touched upon. Naughty bankers earning exorbitant salaries and bonuses and using the markets as gambling casinos were only part of the problem. The buzzword “too big to fail” characterised the investment banking culture, and the lack of responsible oversight on the part of the authorities and regulators did the rest. Those involved closed their eyes to the obvious. They were on to a good thing. In other words, they didn’t make waves.
Photo of Zurich
But as all markets where buying and selling takes place work on the zero sum basis, at the end of the day winners and losers cancel out. Now we know who the losers were – the taxpayers. Hundreds of billions had to be written off by banks across the world only to be rescued from bankruptcy by the central banks and thus the exchequer at sky-high cost while elsewhere in the world millions were homeless and starving.
But who were the winners? Who pocketed the billions raised by national treasuries across the world by printing money to save their banks? Somebody did.
While in Switzerland, I began to get interested in this question. Soon it became obvious that nobody in authority really wanted to know about cause and effect of the market collapse, but just to to make the problem disappear. Which the politicians did – at huge expense but without eliminating the origins. Under this global cover-up the “criminals” among the investment bankers had a free ride to do their thing: skimming and scamming. This is the story of such a scam which could have happened in the shadows of the world financial crisis.
But it is not just a story of a clever scam to defraud the foreign exchange markets – that is just the backcloth – but about the interactions of a group of people, some motivated by ethics, others by greed, who are sucked into the epicentre of the scam, and their individual fates. It is a people-oriented story with a character-driven plot told with dark humour and in a style reminiscent of Jimmy Breslin’s classic “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight” until the dramatic – and for two persons – tragic end.
DCS Frank Kruger
He is a new figure in Crime Fiction, is chief of the Munich Serious Crimes division and the lead figure in the Series.
A revival of the noir type of anti hero, he is a cynical, worn down top cop with a wry humour and a romantic vein for the good old days but nonetheless very much in tune with the needs of a modern police force. He sees the grimy and shadowy aspects of big city crime emanating from the unplumbed depths of the criminal environment – his conviction being that the courts invariably choose to punish the most obvious culprit and not the criminal mind behind the crime. In this first case, he is fighting an uphill battle against an ingrained judicial system and comfortably ensconced bureaucrats, but succeeds in the most subtle of ways of seeing justice done.
Read the three books in the Frank Kruger Trilogy — either as separate standalone novels or the three books bundled together.
Photos of Munich
THE WAYS OF JUSTICE
This is the first book in a white-collar crime fiction series. I have set the stories in Munich. The city’s location in south western Germany and its proximity to Austria, Switzerland, Italian and the Czech Republic make it the ideal choice for a mystery crime thriller series. International white-collar crime flourishes in this large area and the geographical complexity makes the work of DCS Frank Kruger that much more difficult.
The city’s history goes back more than 900 years when it was a major city in the Holy Roman Empire. Now, it is better known for the October Fest and its football team, Bayern München, but also for the spectacular court trials which have taken place there in recent times.
Writing a crime fiction book based in a Central European environment has its problems, however. Especially as police work is differently organised and the rank designations differnt to Anglo Saxon grades, but I have tried to anglicise them and to make them more easily understandable to a non-German reader.
Each book in the series will be a standalone story covering a major case set against a specific background. Volume 1 deals with a murder in the fashion industry, Volume 2 with a terrorist attack on a leading politician who, it appears is being sacrificed for political reasons, and Volume 3 is set against a background of corruption and fraud in the world of art. Volume 2 is in the final stages of preparation and will be published soon. Volume 3 later in 2016.
Photos of Cape Town
THE WAYWARD WIFE
South Africa is a beautiful country full of beautiful people – black and white. But it is better known for its high rate of criminality. Mostly among the poor black communities. But among the whites, tragedy looms around each corner. In this story, I attempted to capture one such tragedy that could have taken place below the post-apartheid, happy-go-lucky Capetonian surface.
A finely spun, psychological mystery thriller full of deceit, drama and wry humour, this story centres around Margot Rowlands, a restless, married woman whose obsessive affair with a younger man turns out to be more than she bargained for when her lover dies under mysterious circumstances.
A secret woman by nature and a talented amateur actress, Margot successfully avoids becoming a suspect in a murder scenario which the police are developing. But the more intricate the web of lies and cover-ups she weaves to prove her innocence and the more she draws on her acting skills, the more she unsuspectingly directs attention to her secret life, alienating husband and daughter as their suspicions grow.
The case against her is not conclusive, but her distant past – purposely hidden from friends and family – comes to light in the investigation and weighs heavily against her. In court, she fights with the weapons of a desperate woman and edges her trial to a surprising conclusion.
SHADOWS OF DARKNESS
Photos of Sanremo on the Italian Riviera
The peace and tranquility are deceptive! For a lawyer from the Big City, it becomes a never-ending nightmare.
(To follow: On writing Shadows of Darkness)