A.F.Th. van der Heijden / A.F.Th. van der Heijden – By Force

A.F.Th. van der Heijden – By Force

A.F.Th. van der Heijden – By Force

Read a sample translation of By Force


About the book

The relationship between publicity agent Nico Dorlas, in his late forties, and his younger girlfriend Desy is in trouble. His paranoid fear of abandonment, amplified by drink and drugs, makes him hell to live with. When Desy clears out, Dorlas pulls out all the stops to win her back – first willingly, and eventually unwillingly. Whether he has the right prey in his sights him remains uncertain for a long time.

Dorlas is supported by Ernst Quispel, the criminal lawyer who has grown greyer and more cynical. Despite his efforts Dorlas’s universe crumbles within one infernal period of twenty-four hours. Other lives rise again from the rubble.

In a new variant of the classic murder mystery, By Force is not so much a ‘whodunit’ as a ‘whotookit’, rooted in current events but universal in its scope.

The longer you keep reading, the more addicting the reading experience becomes. […] This is a novel that demands to be read very slowly, so as to see what language artist Van der Heijden, because that’s exactly what he is, is really doing here. […] The writer knows how to swallow us up in a masterful narrative by pulling out all of the stops. […] Flexing his verbal muscle. Kwaadschiks is an exceptionally written and well-told novel. Enthralling. - Parool

With a sequence of intoxicatingly beautiful sentences, Van der Heijden successfully weaves a world full of surprising associations, reflections and allusions.**** - Leidsch Dagblad

In the wild thriller 'By Force', part six of the 'The Toothless Time' cycle, A.F.Th. van der Heijden lets his characters gaze lustily. What they see is finely worded. **** - De Volkskrant

Switch off your cellphone and computer, lock your door and just read. – Vivian de Gier, Algemeen Dagblad

All in all, Van der Heijden has delivered an outstanding sequel to his series—one that not only allows itself to be read as an exciting, literary police novel, but above all also offers a picture of a society wherein individuals can easily derail. – Friesch Dagblad

You can recognize his signature on every page. Cross-links, parallels, analogies galore, all testifying to that same vital, cavorting imagination and worded in that characteristic, robust as it is baroque style. […] The novel is a meticulous casestudy of destruction and self-destruction. […] there is a lot to enjoy in the unbridled dialogue. - NRC Handelsblad

Van der Heijden demonstrates again that he is a master at combining fact and fiction, sharp dialogues and unmistakeable references to the social reality of the last ten years. - Wykein

Van der Heijden is a born storyteller. […] [Kwaadschiks] is a seamless novel that dashes from one rapid to the other—for almost 1300 pages long. - Trouw

Van der Heijden endows that story with universal proportions by embedding it in an idiom of love, adultery, violence, revenge and retribution. **** - Knack

The author clearly enjoys stretching the suspense and describes the failure of an angry white man with a wonderfully grand gesture. **** - Elsevier

A magnificent novel from an author who knows how powerful [the Dutch] language can be. You blink, your jaw drops. And you bow. Deeply. ***** - De Limburger

It is a superb story, refined into typical Van der Heijden mythology [….] – De Groene Amsterdammer


A.F.Th. van der Heijden (b. 1951)   is one of the greatest of living Dutch authors. His oeuvre consists mainly of two sagas: The Toothless Time and Homo Duplex. In 2011 he won the Constantijn Huygens Award for his oeuvre as a whole. In the same year the published Tonio, a requiem novel about the sudden death of his only child, which won him the Libris Literature Prize and the ns Readers’ Prize. In 2013 A.F.Th. van der Heijden received the P.C. Hooft Prize for his entire oeuvre.  The Hellcat will be published by Suhrkamp Verlag in September. The film version of The Hellcat was released in March 2016 by Sigma Pictures and the film adaption of Tonio, produced by NL Film & TV, in October 2016.

© Tonio van der Heijden

Additional book information

  • Novel
  • ISBN 9789023458135
  • Number of pages: 1408
  • World rights: De Bezige Bij
  • Price: € 29,98
  • English sample translation available