Reviews from amazon.com, amazon.ca, and amazon.co.uk
5.0 out of 5 stars (amazon.com): Impressive writing! This book was a remarkable read that had my mind going a mile a minute. The plot follows three different characters who face moral dilemmas that are true to today’s world. The novel doesn’t give exact locations and so on, which helps open up the readers’ minds and goes to show that these things can happen anywhere if certain choices are made. Although the plot is well thought out and intriguing, the dialogue is one of the strongest areas of the book. I can easily see this being transformed into a movie that many would love. The characters are real to life, the descriptions are vivid and imaginative and the writing is concise. I would recommend this book to anyone that loves to have a taste of the world, even if the image isn’t the prettiest. Those that are interested in security in third world regions, might also find this story true to life.
5.0 out of 5 stars (amazon.com): This is a gripping story that you will not be able to put down. Oliver is sent to retrieve the remains of his father, who had an unfortunate accident. He isn’t told much about the cause of death, but just about anything could have happened while Johan worked in the third world country, City by the Water. Johan’s job was to better the lives of the poor people; whether it is creating jobs, improving their education, or getting the healthcare they need to live. The story then jumps back two years into Johan’s life when his job shifted to a more dangerous description. He is to find the local terrorist and make a deal with him to procure the safety of the community, or better yet, get justice for the villagers he murdered. Next, Oliver is doing all he can to find the killer since GAPI falls to give up any information. As the story flip-flops back and forth, it adds Davey to the mix. Davey was mouthing off in a bar about the guns that were being taken away from the warlords; so everyone took up a collection and sent him over to find out why they would give up their guns. He learns the hard way the evil motives of the warlord and has to team up with Oliver to escape their grips.
5.0 out of 5 stars (amazon.com) : Part "Heart of Darkness" part "Absurdistan" this novel paints a gripping and farcical picture of the corruption, violence and misguided good intentions that accompany aid work in many of the world's poorest countries. Characters' motivations are not what they initially seem to be with idealism, pragmatism and narcissism confounding each other and tormenting the character's consciousness. Poverty and conflict are man made phenomena and this book explains how many resource rich countries across the world cant seem to break the cycle of violence. This book is a thrilling page turner that I couldn't put down. I recommend to anyone who likes to experience adventure and intrigue in faraway complicated settings.
5.0 out of 5 stars (amazon.com): A great mystery told with just the right mix of subtlety, cynicism and outrage
Great story. Great characters. Great pace. Great writing (from an author whose first language is not English).
You'll enjoy the mystery, but the heart of this dark story is a master class in the frustrations, politics and moral dilemmas underpinning peacekeeping and development work around the world. Verheul brings to life a world which is really stranger than fiction. He has lived it, and he shares his tale with just the right mix of subtlety, cynicism and outrage.
5.0 out of 5 stars (amazon.com)The book was such an enjoyable and easy read.
Verheul opened up a very different place to me with A Clean Death. The book was such an enjoyable and easy read; however, I wasn't sure where the story was headed, and I really found that appealing. Its ended brought needed closure to what seemed so horrific, yet realistic. I ready enjoyed this book.
5.0 out of 5 stars (amazon.ca): Exciting, thriller and humanistic
A high definition picture from the so-called failed and conflict affected nations...The author exposed all the odds and knitted them brilliantly into a colorful portrait. Adriaan Verheul, with his long career experience in international peace work, succeeded with his artistic and linguistic talents, to dig deeper down in human minds and souls to show to what extent human beings could stretch their perpetual struggle between their roles and their values to such levels where only an apocalypse could end this very long fight...
5.0 out of 5 stars (amazon.com): Believable characters, absorbing plot-line and enormous insight into the world of back water corruption. This is the work of a very talented author.
5.0 out of 5 stars (amazon.com) : I liked this book. The characterisation, plotting, narrative and dialogue are deftly handled, and it brought out very clearly the moral dilemmas people in the NGO industry have to face, whether chasing fickle donors for funding, interacting with shifty and corrupt government officials or dealing with dangerous and violent rebel groups, and all the unintended consequences that derive from their actions. Is it permissible to risk empowering or enriching the bad guys if in doing so you can save a few innocents? And anyway, aren’t there bad guys on both sides? Though there is no identifiable reference to any existing international institution – the UN, the World Bank etc. – and the African country involved is carefully not identified, that general approach tends to enlarge the message by making it more universal. Such dilemmas, after all, do not arise only in developing countries.
5.0 out of 5 stars (amazon.com): Ok I need to recommend this great little novel, just out and written by my friend, colleague and former DDR boss Adriaan Verheul. I seriously couldn’t put it down. Adriaan you really need to keep doing this! For anybody who has lived the expat life, perhaps as part of an international or non-governmental organization, you need to read this gem. It is definitely a must read for any fellow DDR cynics out there 😉! Buy it immediately and pass it on!
5.0 out of 5 stars (amazon.com): Anyone looking for a well written novel with layers of depth and subtle satire, in an interesting setting with the bonus of combining an insider's eye on today's conflict zones and the international development and security industry, should read this! I'm looking forward to more by this soon-to-be celebrated author.
5.0 out of 5 stars (amazon.co.uk): Insight to a disarmament program where the wrong decisions are made. Beautifully written, gripping, flowing and believable. Verheul writes from personal experience. He knows the challenges experienced in implementing disarmament programmes. He knows the moral dilemmas that the field operatives face in satisfying donors and international organization HQ ... while keeping a programme on track in addressing real needs in reducing armed violence. Here Verheul offers some insight to the stressful environment in a disarmament situation and to the constant scope for the wrong decisions. His characters are real and rounded. Practitioners will know them well. The story is beautifully written, gripping and flowing. He took me there.
5.0 out of 5 stars (amazon.com): Verheul's riveting page-turner deftly exposes the complex emotions of a son who comes to understand his father better after death than in life as he confronts, firsthand, the challenges, joys, and adventures his father had faced, working in a Third World country. Verheul accurately portrays the nonprofit/NGO world where grant-seeking may come easy, relative to the burden of spending large sums in productive ways that achieve heretofore stated goals. Other captivating characters draw the reader in as well. A refreshing read for those looking for something a bit different.
5.0 out of 5 stars (amazon.com): A great thriller which may sound unreal to some but bears a great reality to certain parts of the world where the rule of law is unknown. Keeps you on your toes as you discover the intrigues surrounding the local political scene after a mysterious murder .
5.0 out of 5 stars (amazon.com): Surprising
Pulled this one out of my “pile” of unread books for a long trip. Engaging, I couldn’t put it down at times, good read.
4.0 out of 5 stars (amazon.com): A skewering of a large and unaccountable foreign aid organization in the form of a murder mystery.Verheul delivers, in the form of a murder mystery, a skillful and knowledgeable skewering of decision-making in a large, unaccountable aid organization. As one who spent a career delivering foreign aid to sometimes dubious recipients (and playing the game of Hearts and Minds), I can attest to the accuracy of the author's farcical vision; his deadpan exploration of bureaucratic chaos and political idiocy is, in a word, delicious. In the fictional construct that carries Verheul's larger message, he is careful to annotate the soul-deadening consequence to those delivering the fruits of the idiocy: cynicism is the final bulwark of self-respect. He is not unmindful of the misfortune that well-intentioned pot-stirring can rain on intended beneficiaries. For those not familiar with realities of some instances foreign aid, this novel is -- and is meant to be -- an eye-opener. The author's maiden voyage into mystery fiction is somewhat less engrossing. As noted elsewhere, his decision to anonymize locales and supporting details of the narrative, done I'm sure as an intentional device to universalize the scope of the message, unfortunately, hobbles the reader's suspension of disbelief; it is not until well into the work that the characters become real and engaging and the plot comprehensible. FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a friend and neighbor of the author.
4.0 out of 5 stars *amazon.com): A crazy conspiracy theorist who fits the typical stereotype of gun nut and always looking for the worst. Then we get the Captain. Adriaan Verheul’s, “A Clean Death,” is a story that follows three very different men within the depths of the jungle. When initially starting the book, I was briefly reminded of “Heart of Darkness,” but Verheul develops a different storyline, looking at Davey, a crazy conspiracy theorist who fits the typical stereotype of gun nut and always looking for the worst. Then we get the Captain, who is honestly just crazy for what he attempts with a horde of actual crazy people. Last, you see Oliver who is the most normal, but has quite a bit of heartbreak and uncertainty after he loses his dad. I think the combination of such wildly different characters is something that makes it more believable because everyone knows someone who fits into the criteria of a loose cannon. They complement one another though, because of the extreme differences that makes them question everything they stand for.
3.0 out of 5 stars (amazon.com): It took a while for me to really get into this book and start to enjoy it. I came really close to putting it ... . This book had a slow start for me. It took a while for me to really get into this book and start to enjoy it. I came really close to putting it down and not starting it up again. I did find that the author did a wonderful job of providing enough information to get the point across but not over load the reader with too much gruesome details. I do feel that the author could have taken time to give the location of all the story a better name and really come up with some better character names. It felt like we weren’t trying that hard with a name like Captain Christmas. Do feel that this is a good start and would really like the author to put a little more work into this story and expand on the book. The book does show a light on what really happens with our support groups and aids in other countries.
(All BOLD highlights by AV)