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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Tim Krabbé

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To purchase Delay

Title: Delay
Author: Tim Krabbé
Genre: Novel
Written: 1994 (Eng. 2005)
Length: 192 pages
Original in: Dutch
Availability: Delay - US
Delay - UK
Delay - Canada
Verspätung - Deutschland
  • Dutch title: Vertraging

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Our Assessment:

B : decent if far-fetched little thriller

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Guardian . 30/7/2005 Alfred Hickling

  From the Reviews:
  • "And to think it could all have been avoided if he'd just spent a couple of hours tooling around the duty free instead." - Alfred Hickling, The Guardian

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Flying back to the Netherlands from New Zealand, where he had been part of a group of Dutch cultural figures presenting Dutch culture to expatriates living there, author and TV personality Jacques Bekker takes advantage of an unexpected delay of a few hours in Sydney to head into town. He only has a few hours, but instead of just getting a meal or doing some sightseeing he opts to try to contact a figure from his past, Moniek Ilegems, since married and transformed into Monica George and also known as Madame Twenty, a very successful businesswoman.
       Moniek had made a great impression on him when he was seventeen, but what exactly happened between them is only slowly revealed over the course of the novel, brief flashback sections alternating with the present. It's a story of betrayal and cruel playing with people, of a vicious self-interest; Krabbé can't let on what happened immediately because it would make Bekker's actions in the here and now even more unbelievable than they already are.
       Bekker is determined to do his best to find her, even going to her home. With what turns out to be very convenient timing he finds her pretty much heading out the door, bags packed, getting set to leave. And when he shows up she asks for his help.
       She needs it: it turns out she has embezzled millions from her company with a partner and that the house of cards is about to come tumbling down, with the police expected at any moment.
       Bekker still has time to catch his plane, but she causes him to miss it; instead of just waiting for the next flight he decides to go on the lamb with her. He doesn't really seem to be turning away from his life -- he figures he can pretty easily always return to it, and that this might be a fun adventure -- but he is in way over his head. Moniek has millions (though most is waiting in a Swiss bank account), and her carefree way is seductive, but she is also one cold, calculating bitch. Still, things never get bad enough for him to bail out while he still can.
       No, things only get bad enough once he's in too deep. Moniek is a good fugitive, one step ahead of the police pretty much all the way, but the incredible amount of money isn't as easy to hold onto or get to as they had hoped, the partner is captured -- and eventually the authorities and the media make the connexion between the embezzler and the missing Dutch celebrity, which pretty much blows their cover.
       Moniek isn't one to give up, but Bekker finds himself way out of his league. They wind up in an isolated, condemned house appropriately called Fort Madness.
       The past catches up with them too, and the whole story of their youthful encounters is revealed. Krabbé effectively shows how Bekker couldn't get over his infatuation and his hurt: despite his occasional bursts of spontaneity, letting go seems to be something he has a good deal of trouble with. Both love and hurt fester and linger for some three decades here, the mix the worst possible combination for Bekker (especially when the hurt of the other women in his life -- haunting him in unhelpful TV appearances -- comes into play).
       The short novel is quite gripping, but it's always just a bit too hard to forget how contrived both the situation and, ultimately, this fiction is. The unrealistic plunge into this life on the run, and the hurried descriptions of that life are all a bit unsatisfactory, but Krabbé does create some decent atmosphere, and there are a few good scenes (the parts are better than the whole). And in Moniek he has created a nicely devilish devil-may-care figure.

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Delay: Reviews: Tim Krabbé: Other books by Tim Krabbé under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Dutch literature

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About the Author:

       Dutch author Tim Krabbé was born 13 April, 1943. He is the author numerous works of fiction (and several books about chess). His novel The Golden Egg was filmed twice (once in Holland, once in Hollywood -- as The Vanishing).

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