Tuesday 10 May 2022

Jonathan Wilkins, "Utrecht Snow"

About Jonathan Wilkins, by himself

I am sixty-six. I have a gorgeous wife Annie and two beautiful sons; I love to write. I am a retired teacher, lapsed Waterstone's bookseller, and former Basketball Coach. I taught for twenty years and coached women’s basketball for over thirty years before taking up writing seriously.

Up until Covid, I regularly taught Creative Writing workshops in and around Leicester and also via zoom. I currently take notes for students with Special Needs at Leicester University.

I have always loved books and reading, but nine years at Waterstone’s nearly put paid to that!

I’ve had a work commissioned by the UK Arts Council, and had several non-fiction pieces published traditionally as well as fiction online. I have had some of my work placed in magazines and anthologies and also exhibited in art galleries, studios, museums and at Huddersfield Railway Station Waiting Room. I have my writing on various blogs. I love writing poetry.

I enjoy presenting papers at Crime Fiction conferences. It keeps my mind active through the research process and is a great way to meet new people and gain fresh ideas for writing.

As well as my Utrecht Murders Trilogy, I am writing a crime series set at the end of the Great War and into the early 1920s. 

My website is here

About Utrecht Snow, by Jonathan Wilkins

In Utrecht Snow, a crime novel initially written as my MA Creative Writing dissertation, we meet widow Caes Heda, Hoofdinspecteur at Kroonstraat police station, and his daughter Truus, a student at the local University. Caes is head of crime whilst his daughter is fed up with her studies and links up with private investigator Thijs Orman. Girls go missing from Utrecht and the police and Truus investigate kidnapping and murder. This is the first of a trilogy set in the beautiful city of Utrecht.

From Utrecht Snow

Caes Heda was normally about six foot two inches tall; but today he was hunched up against the cold and felt like a goblin, at half his normal size. He shivered yet again and breathed out the cold air, imagining it freezing on his neatly trimmed beard and moustache.

Caes could just see the Gothic Dom Bell Tower outlined against the grey morning sky. It was towering above everything, and it made him smile. Even as the snow feathered down it was still the centre of their universe. It watched over Utrecht from a height of what, over one hundred and ten metres, and could more or less be seen in Utrecht from wherever anyone stood, whatever the weather. True, it was a bit faint today, covered as it was in snow. No melting due to no heat leaving the building, the Dom was always cold, always frozen, it mirrored how he felt. Cold and alone, he just wanted to be alone. All of a sudden, Caes just didn’t fancy going to work. He just wanted some peace and quiet and to be left on his own, to wallow in his sudden misery.

Unfortunately, all his defence mechanisms didn’t stop the woman from sitting next to him - well, almost sitting on him in fact, as the bus picked up from Bleekstreet. She wedged Caes against the window and started talking to herself, or was it to him? He opened his left eye and taking a closer look, saw what it was. Dirty faux fur coat and then the sickly smell of snowy dampness and then, yes it was urine. Caes had to start breathing through his mouth to try to avoid the smell. He couldn’t get his arm away from her; he was stuck and she muttered on, words incomprehensible to him, Greek? Russian? He couldn’t tell, maybe it wasn’t a language at all; he was suddenly too tired to think. The half hour it took the bus to get to his office on Kroonstraat was a torment, where had she arrived from? He’d never seen her before on this route, though to be honest he did spend most of his journeys to work with his eyes closed.

It was such a welcome relief when she stood and got off the bus. Her smell, though, was hanging in the air. He hoped it wouldn’t hang on his clothes. The pressure on him at last relented as she moved; typical, it was also his stop. She shambled to the exit. Caes followed the smell.

He got off and found himself trailing the woman as she shuffled across the road and through the snow. Her muttering increased, talking to no one but everyone. People avoided her, even in the snow they could see her and they must have thought she was mad. She was going his way; in fact, she was going all the way. She entered the Bureau at Kroonstraat. Caes followed.

Caes Heda was Hoofdinspecteur in Utrecht. Thirty-nine and in charge of Crime at Kroonstraat Police Bureau, not committing it obviously, but tidying up after it had been committed. If he could catch them great, but he felt there was not much chance of stopping them all. It was a full-time job!

He did enjoy it, though, it was a bit like a game, but he was never sure who was winning. They had success and then the criminals had a win. They locked some up, but more and more were getting community service and prisons were closing due to lack of customers. He had always thought that saving money this way was a false economy as there seemed no deterrent anymore, but there again, he was but a simple policeman.

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