Albert Savelkoul, procureur-generaal te Antwerpen, is aan het einde van een schitterende carrière. Zijn vrouw, van oude Belgische adel, heeft zich verschanst in het Opus Dei, waarvan hun zoon volwaardig lid is. Via het Opus hoopt ze een adellijke titel voor haar kinderen te verwerven. De prijs die zij daartoe moet betalen is hoog. De PG is rechtstreeks geïnspireerd op de sAlbert Savelkoul, procureur-generaal te Antwerpen, is aan het einde van een schitterende carrière. Zijn vrouw, van oude Belgische adel, heeft zich verschanst in het Opus Dei, waarvan hun zoon volwaardig lid is. Via het Opus hoopt ze een adellijke titel voor haar kinderen te verwerven. De prijs die zij daartoe moet betalen is hoog. De PG is rechtstreeks geïnspireerd op de schandalen waarin de Belgische magistratuur de laatste jaren verwikkeld was, en die elke vebeelding tarten....
|Number of Pages||:||287 Pages|
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De PG Reviews
RATING: 3.25SETTING: Antwerp, BelgiumAny success that Albert Savelkoul has had in his adult life has stemmed from his fortuitous marriage to Baroness Marie-Amandine de Vreux d'Alembourg, who comes from a family of high social standing and wealth. He has risen to the position of Public Prosecutor of Antwerp and has quite a bit of power as a result. Unfortunately, he and his wife detest each other. Although they have two sons, they haven’t had marital relations in years. Amandine has dedicated herself to a religious lifestyle; Albert has channeled his energies to his mistress of more than 20 years, Louise Dubois. One of the rules of life is that no matter how things may be going, they are bound to change, and in this case, they do—for the worse. Amandine is campaigning to have their eldest son become a part of the Opus Dei. In order to do so, she will need to give up a large part of her worldly goods to the organization. The Opus Dei also takes an interest in Albert; his various peccadilloes make for ripe pickings in terms of their taking advantage of the situation. At the same time, Albert is experiencing some decline in his sexual abilities, which leads to a deterioration of his relationship with Louise. In fact, she leaves him. Surprisingly, he deals with the situation relatively well; in no time at all, he is involved in a torrid affair with his housekeeper, Maria.I had a few disconnects in the book. For one thing, the interactions between Albert and Maria didn't feel very real to me. I failed to understand what they saw in each other. I also experienced character confusion, since several of the characters were relatively undeveloped. There were a few points in the book where the author broke the point of view. In one case, he went into a large digression dealing with his research on the Opus Dei; that background should have been woven into the narrative. In another, part of the tale was told from the point of view of Albert's favorite horse. That pulled me right out of the story.The sections where Amandine dealt with the Opus Dei, as well as how they treated their son, were fascinating. The way that Albert faced their attempts to discredit him was quite clever. However, I found the conclusion didn't fit with the rest of the book. It seemed that Geeraerts wanted to shock the reader, but it wasn't done very smoothly. What he did really well was to detail the level of corruption and abuse of power in the political system, as well as exposing the extremism of an ultra-right religious organization, most especially its bodily mortifications.Geeraerts is Belgium's best-known author after Georges Simenon. THE PUBLIC PROSECUTOR is the first English translation of one of his books. The fact that Bitter Lemon Press has made such works accessible is the reason that it is one of my favorite publishers.
So this was outside my usual reading wheelhouse. This is a Belgian political thriller about the Public Prosecutor, a corrupt functionary who is targeted by an even more corrupt shadowy Catholic organization called Opus Dei. Savelkoul is not a sympathetic guy, what with his mistress kept in a property given to him by a development company in exchange for a ruling, and the pleasure he takes in the "gifts" he receives. His wife has taken refuge in religion and in obtaining titles for her two sons. Opus Dei is out to bleed as much money from the family as they can, taking advantage of the wife's religious fervor and Savelkoul's easy ability to fall prey to blackmail. It's basically a bunch of people double-dealing and lying as they try to grab the advantage for themselves. They eat in very nice restaurants and drink a lot of wine and then plot for ways to destroy Savelkoul or, in Savelkoul's case, try to maneuver around the traps while finding a way to get laid. Belgium, Jef Geeraerts tells us, is a aristocracy-obsessed kleptocracy, although he does make the point that corruption is present everywhere. Also, the Opus Dei are weirdos. All in all, it was interesting, but still not my thing.
Geeraerts doesn’t have much time for organised religion, I gather from this fable, or for money-grubbing men or women, most of whom end up perishing in some gruesome fashion or the other. The protagonist of this parody of the paranoid thriller genre is the Public Prosecutor of Antwerp, a man who owes his position to his wife’s noble family. He leads the usual life of an alpha male – he has a beautiful young mistress; his wealth does not stop him from seeking more; and, of course, he detests his wife, and hardly has any time for his sons. The wife is a deeply religious Catholic who wants one of her sons to enter Opus Dei, the usual villain in books involving religious skullduggery, and to that end is willing to sacrifice everything, including her husband. There are other unsavoury Opus Dei operatives with connections at the highest reaches of power – both financial and administrative – and there are sundry criminals out for revenge. None of the characters has any redeeming qualities but the Prosecutor, harried and hassled, ends up being strangely sympathetic. This is so earnest a book I cannot imagine Geeraerts wasn’t grinning ironically all the while he was writing it; good fun.
Het was even wennen, het taalgebruik en de rooms katholieke en Belgisch justitiele begrippen, evenals het krankzinnige oganisme van de macht van Opus Dei. Waar ben ik aan begonnen, dacht ik na vijftig pagina's. Ook al omdat het boek bijna 20 jaar terug is geschreven en vast veel van de toenmalige Belgische actualiteit heeft verloren. Toch ging ik door, omdat ik iets van een belofte voorvoelde, en, omdat Geeraerts als schrijver van thrillers een verrassende stijl hanteert en tot heel wat fraaie sfeer- en karaktertekeningen komt. Niet altijd snapte ik even goed hoe de magistratuur in België werkt, maar als je daar doorheen leest begint het verhaal toch te leven. Voor mij op 1/3e van het boek. Vanaf dat moment werd ik getracteerd op de nodige spanning, humor en weliswaar een enigsins voorspelbaar plot, maar goed te pruimen.
MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.Very European. Dismal look at an unhappy marriage: the husband is the middle-aged public prosecutor -- cynical, corrupt, has one mistress, then starts to bed the Polish maid. Meanwhile his wife -- who has never loved him -- is off into Catholic weirdness of Opus Dei. Both are spending their marital funds - he in his affairs and as payoff to certain officials to cover up his missteps, she to purchase status within Opus Dei for their grown sons. Ends with the husband, Albert, getting offed by the gangster who did Albert a criminal job for which Albert failed to pay.Depressing that I read the whole thing through, but failed to bond w. any of the characters.
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/1980607.html[return][return][return][return]A rather nasty thriller about a senior Flemish legal official whose estranged wife is being exploited by Opus Dei, filled with cynicism about the Francophone gerontocracy which supposedly runs the country, boosted by authentic flashes of local colour (notably the expensive restaurants which are all real). None of the characters is at all attractive, and the author gives no indication that he does not share their sexual and ethnic chauvinism.
Leuk boek, erg Belgisch qua couleur locale. Typisch Jef Geeraerts-boek. Happy end ver te zoeken.
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