FICTION

Two Old Men and a Baby: Or, How Hendrik and Evert Get Themselves into a Jam

Grand Central. (Hendrik Groen, Bk. 3). Jun. 2021. 288p. tr. from Dutch by Hester Velmans. ISBN 9781538753521. pap. $16.99. F
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This third book detailing the antics of old geezers Hendrik and Evert is a constant delight. Of the previous installment, The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old, the series’ pseudonymous author has written: “There’s not one sentence in it that is a lie, but not every word is true.” Now comes this novel, essentially one long tall tale involving a screwup of Keystone Kops dimensions. It starts with a missing infant, who’d been conscripted to play the baby Jesus in the Christmas pageant at the local middle school. The police think she was kidnapped (their case file is labeled “Kidnapped Baby Jesus”), but she wasn’t: it turns out Evert had picked her up by accident while on his way over to Hendrik’s for a night of chess and Dutch gin. The octogenarians have to figure a way to return the baby unharmed, without going to jail for having taken her in the first place. By the time it’s resolved, 10 teenagers are in jail, Evert has broken his dental plate, someone has called the parents and demanded ransom, and the authorities have tied themselves in knots trying to figure out what’s happening to whom and why.
VERDICT A very funny book that should appeal widely.
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