The Dutchman’s Dilemma

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In THE DUTCHMAN (1992), the husband-and-wife team known as Maan Meyers introduced a new detective, Pieter Tonneman, sheriff of seventeenth century New Amsterdam. THE DUTCHMAN’S DILEMMA takes place eleven years later. Although he no longer has a government post, Pieter is a prominent citizen of what is now called Manhattan Island. With a new wife, Racquel, and a rapidly growing family, he is a much happier man than the lonely widower of the earlier book.

Pieter, however, is only too aware that Racquel, who is Jewish, longs for her husband to accept her own traditions. He is also troubled about new demands from the unprincipled, powerful Nicasius De Sille, on behalf of the governor, whose prized stallion has been mutilated and slaughtered. Pieter is expected to find the culprit.

Before long, there are additional offenses involving animals, and then two human beings are murdered. Pieter is in a particularly difficult situation since the evidence points to a Jewish butcher, perhaps the highly respected Asser Levy. Racquel, too, has her problems. A skilled physician, she hastens to Levy’s bedside when she hears that he is ill, only to have her reputation among her own people blackened by Levy’s jealous wife, then, when her patient recovers, to be accused of witchcraft by the Christians.

In the end, Pieter has to save Racquel’s life, as well as her reputation. Thanks to a useful clue, clever deduction, and a bit of luck, he also solves the crimes. Like the earlier books in this series, THE DUTCHMAN’S DILEMMA is not just a well-crafted mystery, but also a fine re-creation of an interesting period in American history.