The Harbour Master is a fast-paced, 125-page read featuring Henk van der Pol, a maverick cop thinking about retirement when he finds a woman’s body in Amsterdam Harbour. His detective instincts take over, even though it’s not his case. But Henk’s bigger challenge is deciding who his friends are – not to mention a vicious street pimp who is threatening Henk’s own family. As his search for the killer of the woman in Amsterdam Harbour takes him into a corrupt world of politics and power, Henk finds himself facing some murky moral choices.
The novella was only recently published as a Kindle Single (Amazon’s curated, short e-book programme) and quickly became the #1 best selling short story on Amazon.co.uk. However, the story behind the novella goes much further back. Author Daniel Pembrey had been traveling to Amsterdam for seven years before writing it, visiting a close sister living there. He’d been surprised by the shortage of Dutch crime fiction — especially in contrast to the Scandinavian countries — precisely because Amsterdam lends itself so well to the genre (as shown back in the ’60s by Nicolas Freeling’s Van der Valk series).
In late 2012, Pembrey was researching a newspaper article about human trafficking that took him on an undercover operation with the Dutch National Police Agency. The material he gathered that rainy October night lay dormant for over a year, until Daniel visited the Dutch capital during Christmas 2013: in a typically Amsterdam experience, his bike was stolen, he found myself in the IJ Tunnel 2 police station and, click! The story came together in his head.
Throughout January and February of this year, Pembrey lived in the docklands area of Amsterdam, immersing himself in the locations and trying to catch the local ‘voice’ in bars and cafes – not to mention standing beside the harbour at dawn.
Pembrey is an avid reader of Jo Nesbo, Henning Mankell and Hakan Nesser; The Harbour Master strives to deliver for Amsterdam what fans of Scandinavian crime fiction have come to love: a fascinating light shone on the dark side of a famously liberal society, combining vivid characterisation with ice-cold suspense.