LEX PULLED the French windows open and pushed aside the shutters. The morning spring sunlight streamed into his small office. He leaned against the iron railing and looked down into the old cobbled street. To make it nearly Parisian picture-perfect, a red Citroën 2CV passed below, and his gaze followed the car as it drove up Rue Norvins towards Place du Tertre. 

He pinched himself to make sure it wasn’t a dream that he had been living in the heart of Montmartre for the last couple of months. In a way, he’d come home, as his late mother was born in the Marais, and as a kid, because of his father’s work, he’d lived in Montparnasse until the family moved, when he was eleven, to Amsterdam. 

Lex jumped when the phone behind him rang. He’d almost forgotten it was there, as the bells of the Sacré-Cœur, only about three hundred metres away, chimed more frequently. He turned away from the window, walked to the desk and lifted the receiver. 

“Private Detective Lex Spijker. How can I help?” 

Lang zal hij leven

Lang zal hij leven

Lang zal hij leven in de gloria

In de gloria

In de gloria


“Happy birthday, young man.” 

“Thanks. I didn’t know you had such a beautiful voice. Edith Piaf got nothing on you.”

“Stop teasing me.”

“I mean it.”

“How is it to be thirty? Tell me. It’s so long ago, I can hardly remember myself.”

“You’re not even fifty,” Lex protested.

“I didn’t call to discuss my advanced age,” she said, laughing. 

“How is Amsterdam?”

“Same old same old, but I want to hear about Paris. What are you doing on your big day? Tell me all about it.”

“I plan to have lunch at my local, followed by a stroll on the Champs-Élysées, and this evening my uncle has invited me to a fancy restaurant.”

“You sound happy,” she said. Roos had worked as his part-time secretary for about a year, while Lex operated as a private detective in Amsterdam. After some gangsters roughed her up and threatened to kill her pug dog by dropping it from a second-floor window during a case the previous year, she’d seemed relieved when he’d told her about setting up shop in Paris.

“How is your apartment?”

“Compared to Rembrandtplein, it’s like a palace.”

“Most apartments would be. If you pardon my French, that was a real dump.”

“It’s not fair to compare the two. My apartment here is double the size, in any direction, if you know what I mean. And as you can imagine, the ceilings are covered with beautiful stucco. And guess what?”

“You tell me.” 

“There’s a decent-sized bathroom with a bathtub. You know, one of those classic ones on cast iron legs.”

“Marvellous. That will be put to good use when Lure joins you in a few days.”  

“You mean Linda.”

“Did I say Lure?”

“That’s what I heard.” 

“Sorry, old habits die hard.” 

“No, problem. I often think of her as Lure myself.”

“You must be looking forward to her arrival?” she said.

“You bet. I’ll pick her up at the Gare du Nord on Saturday.”

“I know.”

“You talked to her?”

“I visited her last week.”

“How was she?”

“She looked well, and her beauty has gone up a notch. You would think prison life should have the opposite effect, but not on Linda.”

“Did she mention me?” Lex said with anticipation. 

“I got sick of hearing your name. If I didn’t know better, I would think she was in love with you,” Roos said with a chuckle. “You’re a lucky man, Alexander.”

“Don’t I know it.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *