Vera Stupenea was born in Siberia, Russia, in 1973 and grew up in the Moldovan town of Chisinau. It was there that she attended grammar school, and that she took her university degree in modern languages. After graduation, Vera worked for a UN agency in Chisinau. A year later, she won a grant enabling her to travel to the Netherlands to study. She took a master’s degree at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague before going on to work as a teacher of English at a secondary school in the town of Alkmaar. A few years later, Vera began writing English textbooks for a range of educational publishers, including Malmberg, ThiemeMeulenhoff and Noordhoff Uitgevers. She now has over 50 educational books to her name. When she’s not writing, she’s more than likely to be found brandishing a golf club or packing her bags for the next trip.
Moord om de Hoek (‘Murder round the Corner’) is her debut as a Dutch-language thriller writer. A charming little provincial town is thrown into turmoil when 16 year-old Sophie ends her life. A letter is found in which she blames her teacher, Jonna, for driving her to this act of despair. However, when Sophie’s neighbour is also found dead, police detective Pieter Gravemaker starts to wonder whether Sophie did indeed commit suicide. He begins his quest for the truth by questioning Jonna and it’s not long before romance blossoms between the detective and his attractive suspect. The tension mounts when Jonna’s young son is kidnapped, leading to a spine-chilling finale.
Vera is currently working on her second thriller. High class date (the working title) is another exciting read with both erotic and mystical elements – and also featuring a drone.
Stupenea has a pleasant writing style and is a dab hand at code-switching between young adults and adults in her dialogues. Her novel is well structured, exciting, direct and romantic. Moord om de Hoek (‘Murder round the Corner’) features a number of erotic scenes which the author describes with a combination of honesty and tastefulness. Stupenea complements all this with a deft, fastidious pen and a plot that is full of surprises.
In conclusion, Moord om de Hoek (‘Murder round the Corner’) is an outstanding debut that is most definitely moreish!
By Hanneke Tinor-Centi, owner of HT-C Communicatie en Marketing, literary agent, book marketeer and reviewer.