Flanders Sky

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

FLANDERS SKY is written in the form of extended journal entries by former French police official Henri Castang and his wife, Vera. It begins with Castang describing his “promotion” to a position as France’s representative in the joint European department of judicial services. The promotion is illusory, as a way to get Castang out of the French police system. Castang has done something unnamed which makes his absence preferred and establishes him as a renegade.

It is not completely accurate to call FLANDERS SKY a murder mystery, since the crime does not hold center stage. The first quarter of the book describes the Castangs’ adjustment to Brussels and Vera’s trip to Czechoslovakia, her native country. Even when the murder of Iris Claverhouse, the wife of Castang’s boss, takes place, the event is treated as of little apparent consequence. Castang agrees to do some investigating, even though he is no longer officially a police officer. His investigations are not the heart of the book. Instead, he describes his involvement, as a part-time social worker, with two runaway girls and his efforts to find out who is trying to get him to act as a spy within the bureaucracy of the European Community.

Eventually, Harold Claverhouse is arrested for the murder of his wife. Vera’s later sections of the book describe her visits to him in prison while he awaits trial. There is little discussion of how Claverhouse’s defense is to be organized, and his trial is anticlimactic. FLANDERS SKY thus is more an amalgam of events in the Castangs’ life, one of them the murder trial of an acquaintance, than it is a murder mystery. As a collection of tidbits, it is entertaining and insightful. As a murder mystery, it is light on detail but nevertheless engaging.