فصل 03

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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Chapter three

Amsterdam spring

I arrived in Amsterdam at 9.30 on Monday morning. I rang Elly van Praag of the Dutch police from Schiphol airport. Elly was the friend I had made during the case of the stolen paintings two years ago.

Elly wasn’t working that morning and we arranged to meet two hours later at a cafe we knew in the Jordaan, an old part of Amsterdam. That would give me time to go to my hotel and check in. I caught the train from the airport and took a taxi into the centre from Central Station. The Echo had booked me into a hotel on the Keizersgracht. There were a lot of visitors to Amsterdam in spring and good rooms were difficult to find. The hotel wasn’t very nice, but I didn’t expect to be staying long. I left my bag and went to meet Elly.

Elly was already at the cafe when I arrived, sitting at a table outside, next to the Prinsengracht canal. She smiled and stood up as she saw me coming, and kissed me three times in the Dutch way. ‘Hey, Kate, wonderful to see you,’ she said.

Elly was typically Dutch, if there is such a thing. She was tall and very blonde, and looked like a sportswoman. In fact, she was a very good cyclist, and when she wasn’t fighting crime in Amsterdam, was usually to be found cycling hundreds of kilometres around Holland with a number on her back. She looked like the daughter of a Dutch farmer, which she was, with red cheeks and bright blue eyes. And like most Dutch people of her age - she was in her early thirties - she spoke English very well.

We sat down and ordered coffee. It was a fine spring day; the sky was blue with little white clouds here and there. ‘I’m sorry about your friend,’ Elly said.

‘Yes,’ I said, staring at the red and white tablecloth. ‘It’s really sad.’

I told her about my meeting with Max just a few days ago. ‘He seemed to be happy and said the club was doing OK,’ I added.

Elly wasn’t a football fan and knew nothing about the Rotterdam club. She did know about crime in Amsterdam though.

De Pijp, where Max had died, was one of the oldest parts of the city, a lively place with a wonderful street market at its centre, on a street called Albert Cuypstraat. Last time I was in Amsterdam I had gone shopping there for Dutch cheese and tulips to take home. It was strange to think that this lovely colourful place was where Max had lost his life.

‘De Pijp is getting quite dangerous these days, Kate,’ Elly said. ‘There have been quite a number of stabbings and shootings. We’ve been busy down there.’

‘So, it just looks like it was a mugging that went wrong?’ I asked.

The waiter arrived with the coffees, Elly’s black and mine koffie verkeerd or ‘wrong coffee’, the Dutch name for coffee with milk. Elly had ordered a cake too. All that crime-fighting and cycling made her hungry.

‘Mmm,’ said Elly, drinking some of her strong black coffee. ‘I’m afraid that’s what it looks like, Kate. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Poof guy,’ she added. ‘Of course, there will have to be a postmortem.’

The police always asked “for the examination of a. body found like this. I thought of Max lying dead with twenty knife wounds in his body. I felt cold, although the spring air was warm.

‘So who found him?’ I asked.

‘We did. Well, one of the police teams going round the city late Thursday night,’ Elly replied.

Thursday. Just two days after I had met Max at the Queen’s Head. I looked out over the canal. It was a lovely warm day and the streets and bridges over the canals were full of people on bikes or on foot. It was beautiful. It was hard to think that Max was dead, and even harder to imagine that he had died in Amsterdam. It was such a lovely city.

‘He was staying at the Tulip Inn on Spuistraat,’ said Elly.

I didn’t know the hotel, but I knew that Spuistraat was right in the old centre of the city.

‘They didn’t find much on his body at all. Just the usual,’ she said.

Just the usual. In death people were almost the same. Some money perhaps, a few business cards, perhaps some photographs of the family. Except Max didn’t have much family: his wife had died years ago and they didn’t have any children. There was just his brother, Tom.

‘Did the killer take his money, then?’ I asked. If it was a mugging, surely the only reason could be money.

‘Well, the police couldn’t find his wallet,’ she said.

Of course, that meant nothing, I thought. If someone wanted to make it look like a mugging, the first thing they would do was take money.

‘We think that he probably fought back and his attacker went mad. It happens,’ said Elly.

It certainly did.

‘Why did he stay the night?’ I asked. ‘Why didn’t he just go back to The Hague? It’s only forty minutes or so on the train.’

I knew that Max lived near The Hague. He had asked me to stay at his house a few times, although I never had. I never seemed to have time. Now I would never have the chance.

‘He must have had a business meeting the next morning. Apparently he often stayed in Amsterdam,’ Elly said. ‘The hotel manager said he’d stayed at that hotel before.’

Elly got up to go to work.

‘Who’s in charge of Max’s case?’ I asked.

‘Joop de Vries, Murder Squad’ she said. Her face told me that she didn’t like him much. ‘Oh yes,’ she added as she unlocked her bike and got on it. ‘There was a card with a name and address in Max’s pocket. I took a note of it.’ She put her hand in her jacket pocket and brought out a piece of paper with something written on it. She gave it to me. It said: ‘Jos van Essen, Oude Schans 141.’

I didn’t know much about football, but I knew that name. Jos van Essen was one of the greatest footballers of all time.

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