Laurens van Veen
Reviewed by M. Cristina Lanzi for Reader Views (12/13)
When Gunnar Brume, a lonely Late Modern History adjunct professor from the east coast, is contacted by a completely unknown man offering him a trip to Berlin to draw someone’s inheritance, he could have never thought of what would have happened next.
Not only does Gunnar inherit a daughter and a father-in-law which he had no idea existed, but he also gets involved in events that bring him from one place to another. Following Blue, a mysterious and incredibly charismatic teenager met on the plane to Europe, Gunnar flies from the States to Berlin and from there to Hawaii, in search of answers that only the past could have answered to.
“Moon River” by Laurens Van Veen is without doubt a thought-provoking novel, enriched with romance, mystery and some philosophy. But how many topics should be discussed in about 250 pages? Reading this novel was like jumping from one book to another: from mystery to historical memoir, from spirituality fiction to slight romance.
Some books compel the reader to turn the pages because they are so full of events and suspense that the reader can’t wait to find out what happens next. In other books the characters are so well described and realistic that the reader almost gets involved in their lives, wanting to read as much as possible, almost believing that he can have a share in their story. This time, reading “Moon River,” at times I found myself flipping through the pages very fast, wanting to discover what would happen next and then, after a few chapters, I was just puzzled as to how the events had been connected and I felt almost deceived by the author.
All the characters in this book get to interact with each other in very unlikely ways and the development of their relationship is hardly believable. Through the book, all the individuals barely know each other, most of the time they actually don’t, but nevertheless they all make life-changing decisions on a whim for no apparent reason. It seems that they all feel that they have to be part of other people’s life, embarking on transoceanic trips and dangerous exploits. At the end of the story though, very few are the characters involvement made sense. More than once I had the impression that I was reading a movie script.
Anyhow, “Moon River” by Laurens Van Veen is well written, I liked the descriptions and the way the plot was developed. The author touches the important and upsetting topic of the Russian mafia business involving under-aged girls; but I think he makes too much of an effort to create an incredible story around it.