© Florian Van Eenoo
The Scorpion's Head
Pushkin Press (UK, 2022) + Arabic Rights sold to Al-Arabi (for publication in 2023)
NEWS: 22/04/2002: longlisted for the CWA Dagger for Crime Fiction in Translation
Translator: Laura Watkinson
Something bad happened to that child.
And it was because of you.
When Gaelle wakes up, the nightmare begins. She is lying injured in a psychiatric hospital in Berlin, with no memory of the tense holiday weekend she has just spent with her family. Her son is in a coma in a different hospital – and the police think she tried to kill him. Gaelle is sure she is innocent. But can she prove it?
Michael is a contract killer working for Scorpio, a shadowy organisation of hitmen led by the ruthless Dolores. Any agent who breaks the rules signs their own death warrant. When his latest assignment stirs up old memories, Michael refuses to do the job – and starts to run for his life.
Soon, both Gaelle and Michael will discover exactly what they are capable of doing to survive.
Translator: Laura Watkinson
Sample translation: https://www.flandersliterature.be
Q and A: "I like writing about secrets." https://pushkinpress.com/
"When I encountered the Scorpion's Head, I knew I found my gem." Walter Iuzzolino (Walter Presents) https://www.youtube.com/
"This intriguing story by the Flemish crime writer Hilde Vandermeeren is a reminder that there is a whole continent of thrills to discover beyond Scandinavia." The Times https://www.thetimes.co.uk
"Hilde Vandermeeren, who also happens to be a trained psychologist, has produced a small masterpiece packed with tension, menace and truly original characters. Everything in the story bears the hallmark of first-class writing, from vivid cinematic scenes to gritty plot." Daily Mail https://www.dailymail.co.uk
"This is classic crime at its very best, with a plot that takes the reader on a twisted journey and characters who are both enigmatic and compelling." (by Anne Cater: judge for the CWA Dagger Awards and reviewer for the Daily Express) https://randomthingsthroughmyletterbox.blogspot.com/
"Crime writer Hilde Vandermeeren weaves a smart tale, switching between Gaelle, who wakes up in a psychiatric hospital in Berlin, and Michael, a hitman working for the sinister Scorpio organisation who was supposed to murder her. Even assassins sometimes have a heart, but that flash of conscience can exact a high cost, as Michael soon learns." Financial Times https://www.ft.com/content
"Exactly who is guilty of what isn’t clear until the very last page. It’s written by a psychologist who is also a truly gifted storyteller. Worth reading for the character of Dolores alone. " (Chosen by reviewers in the Daily Mail) https://www.dailymail.co.uk
"A rare but welcome appearance of a contemporary Flemish mystery novel in translation (a sterling job by Laura Watkinson) again ably demonstrates that crime has no frontiers and neither do sleuths. (...) The scene is set for a race in overdrive that takes the conflicted characters through the Paris catacombs, Germany, the forests of rural Poland and Tuscany without ever faltering and becomes a compelling psychological page-turner and action-full yarn of great efficiency. More Vandermeeren, please." Maxim Jakubowski, Chair of the Crime Writers' Association (CWA) https://www.crimetime.co.uk
HONORY CITIZEN OF TORHOUT 2021
Short Bio Hilde Vandermeeren: Belgian award winning author of crime novels and children's literature. Hercule Poirot Readers Prize (2013). Shortlist Gouden Strop Prize 2016 (NL). Hercule Poirot Prize 2017 (BE). Finalist Derringer Award Best Short Story 2017 (USA). Movie rights 'Stille grond' sold to Eyeworks Belgium. English world rights 'Scorpio' (The Scorpion's Head) sold to Pushkin Press (UK), for the new series 'Walter Presents', books selected by producer Walter Iuzzolino. In 2021 she was declared an Honorary Citizen of the City of Torhout. In april 2022 'The Scorpion's Head' is longlisted for the CWA Dagger for Crime Fiction in Translation.
About Belgian crime fiction : ""Hilde Vandermeeren is one of the few exceptions in Flanders, where the literary market is still dominated by male writers." Her trilogy with criminal lawyer Walter Damen and her other work are part of this international European project of the KU Leuven http://www.detect-project.eu
Hilde Vandermeeren (°1970) lives with her family in Torhout, Belgium. She studied psychology in Leuven en started her career teaching young adults. Her first children’s book, published in 2001, was the start of a writing career which led to over forty publications for young children and teens. More than 30 books were translated into Danish, German, Spanish, Korean, French and Chinese.
She was awarded several national and international prizes: Zilveren Griffel (2005), Vlag & Wimpel (2006 and 2013), White Raven (2007), Boekenwelp (2007) and the Hercule Poirot Prize 2017 for the best Flemish Crime Novel of the Year.
In 2006 Hilde quit teaching and focussed on a full time career as a writer. In 2013 her debut novel was released. Als alles duister wordt is a psychological thriller, published by Q (now changed in Publishing House Volt: department of Singel Uitgeverijen, the Netherlands). It was her first work for an adult public. Her next novel De toeschouwers was released in 2014. The third novel Stille grond (Silent Ground, 2015) is set in Scotland and shortlisted for the Gouden Strop 2016. Movie rights of Stille grond (Silent Ground) were sold to Eyeworks Belgium. Scorpio, her fourth crime novel, came out in 2016. Her fifth crime novel Schemerzone (2017) is set in London and was awarded for The Hercule Poirot Award 2017 and longlisted for the Bookspot Gouden Strop 2018. Her sixth thriller Beware of the neighbours is a haunting psychological thriller about Capgras syndrome and was longlisted for the VRT Lang Zullen We Lezen-trofee. The main character is a mystery writer.
She was shortlisted for the MAX Gouden Vleermuis 2019. This is an international oeuvre prize for crime writers, organised by Nederlands Thrillerfestival Zoetermeer (the Netherlands).
Her short story The Lighthouse was published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in 2016. The second short story Stranger in the Night was released in December 2016 in the same magazine. The Lighthouse was shortlisted for the Derringer Award 2017 Best Short Story. Both stories were translated by Josh Pachter.
Together with criminal defence lawyer Walter Damen she published a trilogy about a female criminal defence lawyer working at a prestigious law firm in Lisbon (and returning to Belgium in the last book). The first book was published in 2018 and the last part in 2020. This trilogy and her other work is selected for the international project DETECt, by the KU Leuven. DETECt is a large collaborative initiative that involves scholars, teachers, students, professionals of the creative industries, and the general public in investigating how practices of transnational production, distribution and consumption in the field of popular culture have facilitated the appearance of engaging representations of Europe’s cultural identity. https://www.detect-project.eu/
The worldwide English Rights of Scorpio are sold to the UK publishing house Pushkin Press for publication in October 2021. The book is translated by Laura Watkinson and part of a new series Walter Presents, books selected by producer Walter Iuzzolino. The Arabic Rights are sold to Al-Arabi.
In 2021 she was declared an Honorary Citizen of the City of Torhout, because of her achievements in the literary sector. In april 2022 'The Scorpion's Head' is longlisted for the CWA Dagger for Crime Fiction in Translation.
EQMM free podcast The Lighthouse: http://eqmm.podomatic.com/
Foreign rights crime novels:
- Q (Volt: Singel Uitgeverijen): mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Van Halewyck (Pelckmans): mail to email@example.com
After the dramatic ending of the Barbosa case in Lisbon, Kirsten decides to move back to Belgium. She takes upon a case of a young, intriguing man, who is accused of murdering his girlfriend. Nick Steverlinck claims he was sleepwalking at that moment and wasn't aware of what he was doing. But it doesn't take long before Kirstan sees that there's more tot the story than he has revealed to her.
In the final part of this trilogy, Vincent Bertelet and Kirsten come face to face with each other. The final confrontation.
"Meedogenloos has what every crime novel should have: a strong and intriguing plot." Het Nieuwsblad
"A compelling thriller." De Perfecte Buren
"The perfect finale of an exceptional trilogy." De Boekenkast
"A crime story that arises from true craftmanship." Mappa Libri.
"A cleverly constructed thriller." Leeskost
Since the Marnick Tanghe case, Kirsten had become a famous and succesful lawyer. She takes on more challenging cases and is well-known for her persistence and perseverance. When Llisbon is rocked by numer of gruesame murders, the police are swift to arrest ALex Barbosa as a murder suspect. Barbosa demands that Kirsten helps him. Although her collegues advise her not to, she accepts the defense of a suspected serial killer, who claims he is innocent. But can she really trust him? Or is she getting herself in trouble?
Meanwhile, Vincent Bertelet, still out for revenge, is coming closer to Kirsten.
"Hilde Vandermeeren has written herself tot the top of Dutch-speaking crime writers." De Krant van West-Vlaanderen
"Pure craftmanship. Great thrillers don't need to come from abroad.' Het Laatste Nieuws
"In this second part of the Lisbon trilogy Damen and Vandermeeren are on the roll." Biblion
"Never change a winning team." Thrillzone.nl
When the daughter of a famous Portuguese politician disappears, Kirsten is given her first real criminal case. She takes on the defense of a real estate developer who is linked to the disappearance, although he claims he had nothing to do with it. The media jumps on the case, putting Kirsten under enormous pressure. Above all, her client is tough and very demanding.
While Kirsten is struggling with the case, a ghost from her own past comes back to haunt her.
" Brilliant and nail-bitingly thrilling story." Het Nieuws van West-Vlaanderen
"Damen and Vandermeeren rightly set the story in the Portuguese capital, turning this book into the perfect guidebook to this wonderful city. The narritive is exciting, and the characters are credible. Restless is a professional piece of art. Vandermeeren won the Hercule Poirot Award last year, Damen and Vandermeeren know how to create a story.' Het Nieuwsblad
"Hercule Poirot prize winner Hilde Vandermeeren and criminal attorney Walter Damen joined forces for the first time and created a brilliant crime novel. The novel takes the reader on a revealing tour behind the scenes of the legal world." Feeling
“An incredibly gripping story that leaves you stunned and in awe.” Crime reporter Faroek Özgünes
“The fundamentals of the constitutional state and what it means to be a lawyer are beautifully and comprehensively dramatized in this exciting thriller.” Jan Meerts, President of the Bar, Antwerp, 2016-2018
English Translation Sample available: mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Pas op voor de buren (Beware of the neighbours)
Longlist VRT LZWL-trofee 2018 category Thriller
**** "A genuine psychological thriller." Hebban.nl
"Hilde Vandermeeren invariably delivers internationally oriented thrillers with an ingenious plot." Feeling
A street. Four houses. Five secrets.
Ruth is a mystery writer writing under a pseudonym. That pen name is not her only secret. She’s also holding back a terrible personal secret from her boyfriend Matthew and from the neighbours as well. Her mother taught her never to trust the neighbours. Then strange things start to happen around her, and she must face her biggest fear: the fear of being as mentally ill as her mother, whose illness had fatal consequences. Can Ruth still trust her own thoughts and perceptions, or is something more going on here?
With support for the author from the Flemish Literature Fund.
Schemerzone (Shadow Zone)
Knack Hercule Poirot-Award 2017
Longlist BookSpot Gouden Strop 2018
More than 12 500 copies sold
“Hilde Vandermeeren is in a league of her own. She is ready to make an international breakthrough. She is the standard-
bearer for a new generation of thriller writers.” – Knack
**** "Schemerzone is an atmospheric thriller with interesting characters and a fine build-up of tension. A successful psychological thriller." VN Detective & Thrillergids 2017
**** "Hilde Vandermeeren has grown to become one of the best crime writers in Flanders." (Het Nieuwsblad)
**** "She has, in any case, definitely left her mark on Flemish crime fiction." Flanders Today. Interview (in English) here: http://www.flanderstoday.eu/arts/hilde-vandermeeren-makes-her-mark-flemi...
***** "A glittering psychologicalcharged firework." Hebban.nl
Kate works as a nurse at a private clinic in London. She discovers that she suffers from narcolepsy, which means she can suddenly fall asleep at any time and has nightmares that are hard to distinguish from reality. So as not to lose her job, she keeps her condition a secret from her colleagues. The clinic where she works is located on two floors, but the building has a third floor, which has recently been renovated. High-profile individuals can stay in an apartment there for discreet treatment away from the spotlights. The nine-year-old daughter of a celebrity couple ends up in that special ward. After an incident at the clinic, the paparazzi start following Kate. But it’s not only the paparazzi – someone else is after her too. Someone who doesn’t want the truth to come to light...
With support for the author from the Flemish Literature Fund and translation sample: read here: https://www.flandersliterature.be/books-and-authors/book/shadow-zone
**** "Vandermeeren takes another step forward with Scorpio." (Knack)
**** "Scorpio is a gripping thriller." HMC-kranten
"Scorpio is a skillfully composed crime novel with a beautiful international dimension. Vandermeeren is one of our major talents of crime writing." (De Standaard)
"Keeping tight control and avoiding literary niceties allow Vandermeeren in this fourth thriller to keep the reader on pins and needles till the end." (VN Thriller Guide)
After a weekend with the family, Gaelle wakes up in a psychiatric hospital in Berlin. She is injured and can’t remember what happened. The police suspect her of attempting to murder her seven-year-old son. Gaelle refuses to believe this, and she escapes so that she can go in search of the truth. In the process, she crosses one line after another, becoming hunted prey.
Michael is a hitman who works for Scorpio, an organisation that spares no one. Breaking its rules means signing your own death warrant. Then an irreversible decision changes Michael’s life.
One lives by killing, the other kills to survive. What will happen when their paths cross?
With support for the author from the Flemish Literature Fund: https://www.flandersliterature.be/grants/translation-grants
Read more: Synopsis and English sample: https://www.flandersliterature.be/
Translation: Brian Doyle
English and Arabic Rights sold
Shortlist Golden Noose 2016
TV- AND MOVIE RIGHTS SOLD TO EYEWORKS BELGIUM
"A powerful and compelling read that earns a spot on your bookshelf." (Jury’s report of The Golden Nose 2016)
**** "With Silent Ground Hilde Vandermeeren proves to rise high above mere mystery writing." (AD)
**** "The narrative is intriguing and simple, and just like the quiet Scottish setting, it adds to a pleasurable reading experience. A case of less is more." (NRC Handelsblad)
'Excellent, excellent, excellent! I enjoyed every moment!' Josh Pachter, American crime writer and translator
'A fresh and fluently written page-turner.' http://www.flanderstoday.eu
An oppressive psychological thriller about a dark secret in Scotland
Glasgow, 1983. One stormy November night, six-year-old Rosie Thompson vanishes from the bedroom she shares with her twin sister. No trace of her is found. Eve, the twins’ younger sister, grows up with this family tragedy. Thirty years later, Eve is working as a maths lecturer at the University of Glasgow. Her life is turned upside down by a message that someone leaves in a chapel: “I am sorry about what happened to Rosie Thompson. May God forgive me.” When the police investigation reveals nothing, Eve decides to take action herself. Her search becomes a matter of life and death.
With support for the author from the Flemish Literature Fund: https://www.flandersliterature.be/grants/translation-grants
Read more: Synopis and English sample: https://www.flandersliterature.be
Translation: Laura Watkinson
Award winning author Hilde Vandermeeren (1970) has written over 40 books many of which have been translated into several languages. Her first thriller Als alles duister wordt was awarded the 2013 Knack Hercule Poirot public award. Stille grond is her third thriller and, being half of an identical twins herself, it is also the most authentic one so far.
Als alles duister wordt
One evening on a footbridge near an abandoned railway station, 27-year-old Claire Maenhout bumps into a man. She’s in a hurry, trying to catch the last train home and doesn’t pay much attention to the incident. Not until a few days later, when she reads in the papers that a man’s body has been found in the thicket near the station. Witnesses are requested to get in touch with the police.
Unfortunately young Claire has lost her ability to remember faces, having just recovered from a coma after a serious car accident. But the murderer did see her that evening, and he never forgets a face.
Awards and nominations
Knack Hercule Poirot Public Award 2013 (Prize awarded by the public for the best Flemish thriller novel)
Nomination for the longlist of the Diamond Bullit Award 2013 (award for the best Dutch thriller novel)
**** "The author lifts the story to a higher level and deserves a great compliment! An excellent debut!" www.hebban.nl
"Als alles duister wordt is a well written and meticulously composed thriller debut" John Vervoort, www.cobra.be
"Vandermeeren invented a simple plot and developed it into a great tale." Anita Terpstra, Leeuwarder Courant
Marion works as a freelance webdesigner and is a kickboxer in her spare time. Events from the past force her to keep away from people. Her friend Dana goes abroad and puts her 12-year-old daughter Chavi under Marion’s care. The girl attends an elite boarding school in a woody neighbourhood. Very soon however Marian gets the feeling that the place isn’t safe. And then a murder is committed at the school. Will Marion be able to protect Chavi or will she make the same mistake she once made in the past?
Hilde Vandermeeren dares to venture beyond the concept of the traditional Flemish thriller. No sleuth and his Watson but characters struggling with life and themselves. A story of power, impotence, making choices, crime and punishment. In the end, who’s watching? It might be the reader himself.
Vandermeeren weaves a nail-biting, original intrigue that will surprise the reader till the very end.
***** An oppressive thriller. (Algemeen Dagblad)
**** Knack Focus : Vandermeeren wrote a crime novel that is relevant but never explicit
Vrij Nederland Detective- en Thrillergids: De toeschouwers is a tightly composed narrative and Vandermeeren firmly pulls the strings right up till the unexpected and tragic climax.