Murder now…and then. “Then” as in 1636, a watershed year in the saga that became know as Tulipamania. The Tulip Virus offers a tantalizing glimpse into the past, and a window into the human soul, where so-called Christian men “kill for Christ” and where a single, beautiful tulip, white with red streaks like blood running through its petals, inspires fortunes and murder.
In modern-day London, Alec gets a phone call none of us wants: his beloved uncle Frank, who raised him and cared for him as if he was his own son, has been attacked. When Alec races to Frank’s elegant townhouse, Frank is clinging to life after a savage beating. He points to one book on the shelf of his library: an antique volume of tulip auction prices. Frank extracts a promise from Alec not to involve the police, and leaves a tantalizing clue behind in the volume. But with every step forward Alec takes to solving his uncle’s murder, two more obstacles are thrown in his way. A ruthless killer is on the loose, one who will stop at nothing to obtain the clues leading to a precious tulip bulb saved from the 1637 auction.
The book alternates between scenes taking place now and scenes from a murder in 1636. The two murders are connected, and interwoven, to form the plot of the novel.
The text is translated from the Dutch, and it’s one of those instances where I wished I could read Dutch so I could read the original. Most of the time, the translation is adequate, but at times the book feels stilted and lifeless. I suspect the translation, rather than the story, is at fault.
Author Danielle Hermans has written an engaging, fast-paced read in which we are never quite sure if the mystery is truly solved or not. I enjoyed this book thoroughly, not just for the murder mystery, but for the history lesson around one of my favorite flowers, tulips.
Voted 4 out of 5 stars.
And here’s a tulip from my garden. Not “the” tulip that caused so much misery for the characters, but one, I suspect, quite like it!