The Tulip Virus
Review: DaniŽlle Hermans' debut novel relates two tales of greed, set centuries apart, but linked through the history of a graceful, elegant but flawed, tulip in The Tulip Virus.
Though the trading of tulip bulbs had been carried out since the early 1600s, tulipomania (as it is commonly known) lasted in the Dutch Republic for a very short period, from about September 1636 through February 1637. One of the storylines in The Tulip Virus spans this period and involves the murder of a tulip merchant, a scientist who was perceived to be a threat to the church. "Those who refuse to hear God's word will feel God's wrath," he's told just before he is brutally murdered. This storyline, taking up less than a quarter of the overall book, provides a colorful and imaginative backdrop to the main plot of the book, but is rather enigmatic and sometimes difficult to follow. That this section ends in the present, subsequent to the events of the other storyline, is also a bit confusing.
The primary plot opens with the torture of an old man in London who, before he dies, calls his nephew from his home and after he arrives, hands him a book about the Dutch tulip trade, whispers the word "tulipa" and insists he not call the police. The young man, Alec, subsequently tells the police he found his uncle dead, never mentions the book, and proceeds to investigate who attacked him and how it relates to events that took place some 370 years earlier.
The Tulip Virus requires that the reader periodically overlook several stumbling points in the plot … including the ill-conceived opening sequence between Alec and his uncle. The book has an overall intriguing premise, but is lacking in execution: it is poorly structured, the pacing is uneven and the characters, though well drawn, are really not all that interesting. It's not even much of a whodunit- or whydunit-style mystery, so there isn't that element to look forward to, inevitable twist at the end notwithstanding.
Acknowledgment: Minotaur Books provided a copy of The Tulip Virus for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in The Tulip Virus: Amsterdam, Netherlands, London, England
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The Tulip Virus by DaniŽlle Hermans
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: April 2010
List Price: $24.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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