The second novel in the acclaimed, best-selling Euro-crime series that began with the Hercule Poirot Award winner, Absinthe.
If the world will end in flames, who is stoking the fire?
Walter Eekhaut (rhymes with “stakeout”), the veteran chief inspector from the Brussels police force who has a problem with authority, remains in Amsterdam, where he was dispatched to assist the Dutch security service. When his boss, Chief Superintendent Alexandra Dewaal, receives a tip from one of her informants, the two find themselves across the border tramping in the Belgian Ardennes on a frigid January day. What they discover is macabre and horrific: seven charred human bodies, attached to tall stakes with chains, in an almost perfect circle. From the look of it, these people were burned alive in some sort of ritual. On the wall of a cabin, Eekhaut and Dewaal make out an enigmatic message written in blood: "This World seems to last Forever. But it is merely the Dream of a Sleeper."
Similar events occur elsewhere in Europe as well as Africa, where Eekhaut's new girlfriend has gone on assignment for an international aid agency operating in Somalia. There have long been stories of an apocalyptic religious cult, The Church of Supreme Purification, along with a more shadowy militant offshoot. Are they connected to these events? Is this some conspiracy to cleanse human society by fire, or is there an even more sinister explanation?
In Eekhaut's thrilling sequel to 2018's Absinthe, irascible Belgian Chief Insp. Walter Eekhaut and his feisty current boss, Amsterdam Chief Commissioner Alexandra Dewaal, confront an intensely disturbing scene a snowy clearing in Belgium's Ardennes Forest where seven people have been chained to stakes and burned alive. Walter and Alexandra's investigation points them to the Society of Fire, a cult whose members believe they must cleanse impure people in flames before the imminent end of the world. Bureaucratic hindrance and personal conflicts hamper the police efforts to close in on the fanatics. The stakes rise when the Society of Fire strikes back by kidnapping a detective's girlfriend. Meanwhile, Baphomet, the head of the cult, plans an atrocity that will incinerate a crowd of thousands in the heart of Amsterdam. Eekhaut expertly ratchets up the tension while providing insights into the cultural differences between the Belgians and the Dutch. Fans of Thomas Harris's Black Sunday will find a lot to like.