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the Complete Review the complete review - fiction

Advocaat van de hanen

A. F. Th. van der Heijden

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Title: Advocaat van de hanen
Author: A. F. Th. van der Heijden
Genre: Novel
Written: 1990
Length: 573 pages
Original in: Dutch
Availability: Der Anwalt der Hähne - Deutschland
  • Advocaat van de hanen has not been translated into English
  • Advocaat van de hanen is the fourth volume of the series, De tandeloze tijd
  • Advocaat van de hanen was made into a movie in 1996, directed by Gerrit van Elst

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Our Assessment:

B+ : solid, big novel of Dutch life in the mid-1980s

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Ernst Quispel is the Advocaat van de hanen of the title -- the "lawyer of the cocks", referring to the multi-coloured plumage favoured by the Dutch punks of the time. The novel is set in 1985. As with all the periods covered in van der Heijden's multi-volume saga, De tandeloze tijd, these are restless, uneasy times.
       Quispel is an attorney. He finds himself drawn into the local squatter- and punk-milieu. A young squatter, Kiliaan Noppen dies after being arrested, allegedly of a drug overdose, but Quispel has his doubts and tries to determine the truth. The case forces him also to look at his own life more closely -- a difficult thing for him to do.
       Quispel is an excessive substance-abuser, though in his case it is merely alcohol. But he takes his drinking very seriously and when he goes on a bender he really goes around the bend. As usual, van der Heijden revels in the excesses of alcohol and describes Quispel's escapades in great detail. Neither work nor love seem able to release him from the depths he feels he has to regularly plunge into.
       The Noppen case turns out to be a complex one, with political implications. Quispel faces some ethical dilemmas along the way (along with domestic and alcohol-related problems too). And friend Albert Egberts -- another Quispel client -- also plays a small but pivotal role.
       Advocaat van de hanen is not your usual Grisham (or even Scott Turow) legal thriller. It offers something very different, though there are sufficient legal thrills and issues too. The focus on Quispel's alcoholic excesses can seem a bit much, but that is his great weakness -- and perhaps an appropriate one in a country shown here also not always willing to face up to the truth. Van der Heijden again offers a neat, broad picture of Dutch life, this time in the mid-1980s.

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Advocaat van de hanen - the film: A. F. Th. van der Heijden: Other books by A. F. Th. van der Heijden under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • Index of Dutch literature at the complete review

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About the Author:

       Dutch author Adrianus Franciscus Theodorus van der Heijden was born in 1951. He is the author of numerous highly acclaimed novels, including the multi-volume saga, De tandeloze tijd.

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© 2002 the complete review

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