‘I used to look for crime fiction novels set in Amsterdam, but ended up writing my own’

Amsterdam’s trading and gin heritage fascinates crime writer Daniel Pembrey, while its canals and Red Light District provide an evocative setting for his books

The Netherlands is a famously flat country, more than a quarter of which is below sea level, and it’s not rich in natural resources, which meant the Dutch learned to trade early on. The resulting canal belt of Amsterdam is extraordinary. Make sure you look up when strolling the streets; the former merchants’ houses are very beautiful. You’ll see many a hijshaak (lifting hook/beam projecting from roof lines) used to winch goods to higher floors of narrow properties – they were originally taxed on the width of street frontage. True to Calvinist traditional, ground floor curtains are typically left open – a declaration of their owners having nothing to hide.

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