Author of the Month

Name: Jake Woodhouse

First Novel:

Most Recent Book: Into the Night

'This may only be his second novel but Woodhouse is definitely one to keep an eye on.'

A man's body is found on a rooftop, the palms of his hands have been blowtorched, his head removed. Another day in Amsterdam - murder capital of Western Europe.

The man tasked with finding and stopping the killer is Inspector Jaap Rykel. But as he searches the headless body for clues to its identity, what he finds makes his blood run cold. Why on earth are there pictures of himself - and his home - saved on the victim's phone?

And then a tweet from the killer reveals the location of another mutilated corpse.

The second of the Amsterdam quartet is a brutally dark and absorbing thriller. The opening chapters are terrifically paced and set the scene for a race against time drama set over four days.

For fans of Rankin's Rebus and Mankell's Wallander, this is a novel you cannot afford to miss.

The central characters are conflicted and troubled which adds an extra dimension to an already multi-layered story. Inspector Jaap Rykel is an interesting protagonist with inner demons he's battling on a daily basis. He wants to keep law and order yet his personal responsibilities don't always allow it.

I still find Tanya more of a credible character than Jaap and she too has a difficult journey in this second novel. She's vulnerable yet feisty, tormented yet forceful. I wasn't a fan of Kees for the majority of the book but he redeemed himself by the end and I will look forward to book three immensely. All three main characters have many more stories to tell.

The many threads of plot knit together nicely as the story builds into a heart-stopping finale that will stay with you long after you've finished reading.

Jake Woodhouse is an original voice in crime fiction and is giving the long standing writers a run for their money. This may only be his second novel but Woodhouse is definitely one to keep an eye on. If the final two books of the quartet are anything like the first two, this is going to be a mind-blowing and unforgettable series.

Reviewed by: M.W.

CrimeSquad Rating


1) As a British crime writer why did you choose Amsterdam for your location?
I studied in Amsterdam for two years and fell in love with the city. Years later, when I started to write, Amsterdam appeared on the page, it wasnít really a conscious decision, it just felt right. For a writer itís a great city to explore, interesting visually and culturally. And unlike a lot of crime novels coming out of countries which actually have very low crime rates, Amsterdam usually has the dubious honour of being Western Europeís murder capital.
2) The books are set in Amsterdam and you live in London. What are the difficulties when placing a novel in a different country and do you have to do many visits when researching each novel?
Spending two years immersing myself in the city I think is enough to get a good feel for it. I donít visit whilst Iím writing a book, but tend to go over for a couple of days after Iíve finished a draft, just to check there was nothing obvious Iíve missed. I find I canít write about Amsterdam when Iím there, but the minute I get back to London then I can really get into it again. I kind of need that distance to let the imagination flow.
3) The crimes are very dark and disturbing. ĎInto the Nightí involves a body on a rooftop with scorched hands and a missing head! Where do you get your chilling ideas from?
Worrying, isnít it? They just come to me when Iím writing. Do you think I should see someone? Seriously though, I think thereís a balance to be had between depicting something shocking and actually making it relevant to the plot. In this case, both the head and hands areÖ
4) Can you explain the role of I Ching within the books and why Rykel in particular uses it?
The I Ching is an ancient Chinese method of divination. Jaap learnt about its use from his Zen master in Kyoto, who was fascinated by its use, history and folklore. Itís not really a fitting thing for a Zen monk to be seen doing, it is after all pretty much nothing more than superstition, and not a stepping stone to Satori. But he gave a copy to Jaap when he left Japan years previously. For Jaap, the I Ching is a chink in his armour, a sign that allís not right as he starts to rely on it.
5) Your novels are very filmic; what is your writing process to give this effect to your reader?
My process is to sit down in the room where I write, which is completely bare. On the wall behind where I sit thereís a painting my wife did for me, so when Iím stuck or get bored I swivel the chair round and look at that. But the rest of the room is pretty sparse, bare walls, no furniture apart from the desk the computerís on. I think this emptiness helps me with visualising things as I write, if I had interesting stuff in my room I would forever get distracted!
6) Are you a fan of Nordic authors and if so, who are you influenced by?
I sort of came to all that a bit late and have read a few, but Iím not sure if Iím influenced by them as such. The writers who really made me want to write were the ones I read growing up and I read a lot so itís hard to name them all. But T.C Boyle is always an inspiration, and in crime Don Winslow is, I believe, a genius.
7) This has been billed as a quartet from the beginning. Do you have Rykel's journey mapped out for all four novels? Is there any chance of the quartet becoming a series?
I donít map things out, I just have a vague idea of where things need to get to, then sit down and write, hoping it works out! For me the fun is in the journey, how it changes as I write and ventures off in unexpected directions. So although I have an Ďend pointí in mind for the fourth book Iíve recently started to have a few ideas about continuing it further. Maybe weíll have to go with an octet.
8) If you are not continuing with Rykel after this quartet, what do you plan on writing next?
Iíd been wondering about writing something else for a while, but nothing was really getting me excited. But about a month or so ago an idea hit me. I canít say much at this stage, other than Iím hugely excited about it, and its set in the UK.
9) For writers who are just starting out on their Ďnovel journeyí, what one piece of advice would you give?
Donít listen to any advice until youíve finished the whole manuscript then rewritten it a few times. You need that time to develop your own style before asking other people what they think. If you ask too soon youíll get all sorts of opinions which will only tramline you. So stick it out, writingís a solitary pursuit, youíd better get used to it.
10) Are you a fan of crime fiction in general? What would you say are the top three crime novels that have made a lasting impression on you?
I like reading pretty much anything, so this is a tricky one, though the one casualty of writing full time is that I read so much less than I used to.

American Tabloid by James Ellroy is a stunning work Ė a massive sprawling look at a period in American History I knew very little about. Ellroy writes character that feel real, thereís nothing cardboard about them, and the way their stories intermingle in this book is fascinating.

Savages by Don Winslow Ė not to everyoneís taste, just read the first chapter to see what I mean, but here Winslow is pushing the novel into the territory of poetry, albeit rough, SoCal drug-infused, surfer-inspired poetry.

Drop City by T C Boyle. Okay, so itís not a Ďcrime novelí but itís still a damn fine book, charting the rise and fall of a hippy-era community in California and Alaska. Itís immersive, perceptive, funny and moving, not sure what else youíd want from a book.