(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Nicolas Freeling objected to comparisons of his work with that of Georges Simenon (Van der Valk hates jokes about Jules Maigret), and the reader can see that Freeling’s work has dimensions not attempted by Simenon. Nevertheless, there are points of similarity. In both the Van der Valk and the Castang series, Freeling offered rounded portraits of realistic, likable police officers who do difficult jobs in a complicated, often impersonal world. Freeling’s obvious familiarity with a variety of European settings, ranging from Holland to Spain, also reinforced his place as a writer of Continental novels. His concerns, however, were his own. Freeling stated his conviction that character is what gives any fiction—including crime fiction—its longevity, and he concentrated on creating novels of character. Van der Valk changed and grew in the course of his series, and Castang did the same. In A Long Silence (1972), Freeling took the startling step of allowing his detective to be killed halfway through a novel. Freeling’s style evolved in the course of his career, and he relied increasingly on dialogue and indirect, allusive passages of internal narrative.

Nicolas Freeling Bibliography

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Bakerman, Jane S. “Arlette: Nicolas Freeling’s Candle Against the Dark.” The Armchair Detective 16 (Winter, 1983): 348-352. Contemporary review of Freeling’s novel, Arlette, comparing it to earlier works and comparing the title character to her fictional husband, Van der Valk.

Benstock, Bernard, ed. Art in Crime: Essays of Detective Fiction. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1983. Includes an essay on Freeling and his contributions to the detective genre.

Dove, George N. The Police Procedural. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1982. Discusses the distinctive features of Freeling’s police novels and their influence on the genre.

Freeling, Nicolas. The Village Book. London: Arcadia, 2002. Biography of the Freeling family and history of the village in which they lived, written by Freeling himself. Provides invaluable background on Freeling’s cultural heritage.

Hausladen, Gary. Places for Dead Bodies. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2000. This study of the settings of crime fiction includes a chapter discussing Freeling’s representation of provincial France. Bibliographic references and index.

Oates, Joyce Carol. “The Mysteries of Literature.” The New York Times Book Review, October 2, 1994, p. 735. Oates uses this review of Freeling’s collection of nonfictional essays on detective fiction, Criminal Convictions, to discuss the author’s own work, as well as his critical views on the genre.

Penzler, Otto, ed. The Great Detectives. Boston: Little, Brown, 1978. Argues for Van der Valk’s place among the pantheon of fiction’s greatest detectives.

Schloss, Carol. “The Van der Valk Novels of Nicolas Freeling: Going by the Book.” In Art in Crime Writing, edited by Bernard Benstock. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1983. Essay on Freeling’s most famous detective-fiction series, exploring the author’s particular craft of writing.