Michel Van Loo leads the investigation in 1950s Belgium
The sixth volume of the adventures of Michel Van Loo, the famous Belgian detective who first appeared from the pen of Brussels writer Alain Berenboom in 2008, has just been published. In "Michel Van Loo disparaît" (Michel Van Loo Disappears), readers find themselves on a ghost hunt in Hainaut, in the autumn of 1950
At first, Michel Van Loo thinks it is a joke, but he barely has time to enjoy life at the castle before a succession of murders and disappearances occur and then the ghost hunter himself disappears.
From Périls en ce Royaume (Perils in this Kingdom), followed by Le roi du Congo (The King of the Congo), La recette du pigeon à l’italienne (The Italian Pigeon Recipe), La fortune Gutmeyer (The Gutmeyer Fortune) and L’espion perd la boule (The Spy Loses His Mind), these investigations plunge readers into the vicissitudes of the immediate post-war period: a country scarred by hostilities, the poorly resolved conflicts and fractures of the Occupation, the quarrel over the return of the king, the fate of hundreds of thousands of Italian workers, the inability to respond to the colony's demands for independence, and the Cold War.
The author, who has an excellent knowledge of the period and the country in which his character evolves, allows readers to project themselves into the atmosphere of mid-twentieth century Belgium. It is a melancholy journey for older readers and a voyage of discovery for younger ones thanks to a host of details throughout the novel that give it a fascinating touch of realism. Readers also enjoy the humour that runs through these adventures. With fifteen novels to his credit, including the Les enquêtes de Michel Van Loo series, Alain Berenboom has become a major figure in Belgian French-language literature.