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Van de Wetering, Janwillem 1931–2008

Van de Wetering, Janwillem 1931–2008


See index for CA sketch: Born February 12, 1931, in Rotterdam, Netherlands; died of cancer, July 4, 2008, in Ellsworth, ME. Police officer, business director, novelist, children's writer, and author. Van de Wetering's travels took him around the world, his work history defied simplification, and all of his life experiences fed his creative imagination. He is best known for his detective stories featuring three Dutch detectives, Adjutant Grijpstra, Sergeant de Gier, and the commissar known only as Jan. The novels, more than a dozen of them, and several related short stories are set in Amsterdam, where the author spent several years in the municipal police reserve as an alternative to military duty. One novel, Tumbleweed (1976), was adapted as a motion picture in 1981. At least one of the novels was set in Maine, where van de Wetering had moved in 1975 and where he spent the rest of his life. The series won praise for its engaging and strongly delineated protagonists, whose collaboration was liberally infused with their outlook on life. If the detectives' worldview hinted at a Zen undertone, it may have emerged from the years that van de Wetering spent in a Buddhist monastery in Japan and a Buddhist community in Maine. He wrote several nonfiction works in these years, including The Empty Mirror: Experiences in a Japanese Zen Monastery (1974; published earlier in Dutch) and Afterzen: Experiences of a Zen Student Out on His Ear (1999). Van de Wetering's career and his writings took many turns. He worked as a salesman in South Africa, a company director in South America and the Netherlands, and an estate agent in Australia. His writings included newspaper columns, television scripts, cartoons, and even children's books such as Hugh Pine (1980), but his crime novels are the works that readers remember. In 1984 van de Wetering earned the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière for the Grijpstra and de Gier volume called The Maine Massacre (1979).



St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers, 4th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.


New York Times, July 16, 2008, p. C12.

Times (London, England), July 18, 2008, p. 58.

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