Fifteen years later, Miracle Man gets seven days to save his world. But then his past catches up with him…
Former minister Jaap Vos returns to Africa as Special Emissary of the United Nations. Back to the country he thought he had saved from destruction fifteen years ago. Once more into the spotlight to save his reputation as Miracle Man. Because despite the promise that it would "never happen again”, once more millions of refugees are on the run, hundreds of thousands murdered, Once more the international community seems uninterested.
In an ultimate attempt to bring government and rebels, perpetrators and victims together, Jaap completely loses control of the power game. He plays his last trump card, an act of desperation that leads to an unexpected reunion with an old ally – is she Jaap's rescue once more? Or is she the harbinger of his downfall?
Where it begins
Book 3 - book with a mission
In June 2007, at the start of my Book 3, I gave myself three assignments.
Never Again (first assignment)
The first assignment is born out of anger.
It is November 2006, during one of the Britannica rewrites. At that point in the process, my Judge Stills is still reading all four diaries of dead spies and soldiers, commissioned by the last Kaiser. It feels like I am drowning in my own manuscript. The wreckage on which I pull myself up is a table of contents in which I count twelve jumps spanning a century in less than four hundred pages. Numerous storylines and extra’s, plots with subplots, historical paradoxes, mirrored themes, insights and perspectives, facts and details everywhere. An ambitious manuscript, yes, but top heavy. I am lost, I am stuck. There is no way out: half the book should be – no must be - shredded. My writing has long ceased to be scrapping, as the Dutch saying goes. Writing has become demolition.
The worst thing is: I've been here before. I thought I learned this lesson while rewriting The Cassandra Paradox. But the truth is: I have not learned it at all.
Asman is a donkey.
Never again, I think.
From victim to perpetrator
Is there a difference? Of course there is.
For example, this time I am not angry with De Bezige Bij for not understanding my work at all. This time I am angry with myself, ha! From victim to perpetrator in one book – if that’s not progress, what is? I cling to this sad point of comfort like you would light a match in a dark nightmare. Relieved, you see – in that final second, in that brilliant flash – that it is not a candle you hold in your hands, but a stick of dynamite.
How do 'real writers' do it? When I respectfully inquire with colleagues, I hear horror stories about walls full of post-its and spreadsheets filled with neatly placed scenes and plot twists.
Think first, then act, is their approach, perpendicular to mine, Stephen Kings 'to begin' or Karel Appel’s 'I'm just messing around'. I forbid myself to write a word of Book 3 until I have everything figured out. Only when I have laid out the beginning, the end, the cliffhangers, the characters, their motives, their pitfalls, only then may I start.
Boom, I already have my opening line. And therefore my closing one. Paul Joosten gives me Screenplay from Syd Field, a self-proclaimed 1980s Hollywood guru. ‘Do this,’ says Field, with the certainty that seems innate to every American. ‘Do this and nothing else. Don't begin before you know your end. Every scene should move the story forward.
’ Can it be that simple? Or rather:
Can Asman make it that simple?
Indiana Jones comes to mind. High above the Himalayas the lady by Indy’s side discovers they are flying without a pilot. She wakes up Indy immediately. ‘Do you know how to fly?' she asks. Indy is already at the wheel. He straightens his hat, and replies: ‘How hard can it be?’
In June 2007 I start my outline, following Hollywood’s recipe to the letter: Act 1, Act 2, Act 3. A month later I have 45 chapters, neatly divided into three equal parts. Then I do the fill-in exercise for two months. I finish the book in September.
Amazed I take stock of my writing career so far.
The Cassandra Paradox took me two years.
Britannica fifteen months.
Book 3 four.
If I continue like this, I'll do Book 4 in a week, Book 5 on a late afternoon during tea.
Honestly: yes, but no.
Yes, happy, because I did it. Apparently I can do this too.
But no. Unhappy. I've made writing a book a piece of cake, a fill-in-the-blank exercise, a trick, something technical, mechanical, boring as hell. Paul Joosten and Pieter Hemels both warned me: whether I was sure, whether technique was not the opposite of passion and open-mindedness, but I didn't listen. I did not want to stop, I wanted to keep on raising the bar, to achieve the next step in my writing, look at me, Mom, here I go, man with a mission, no hands!
As if my own feelings were not dismal enough, my First Readers unanimously voice the opinion that this manuscript is the best I have ever made, a true page turner.
Crime scene: Africa (second assignment)
Ever since four red circles appeared right on the equator on the inverted world map in an abandoned school building two hundred miles northeast of Quito, Ecuador, I knew I would be visiting Africa.
Will I find a mysterious temple ruin here too, as one of the epilogues of The Cassandra Paradox suggests? For a few weeks I play with the idea of a sequel or prequel, I even call Book 3 'C2' for a while, but it doesn't interest me (or not yet) enough. Did it, done it, got a t-shirt.
What do I actually know about Africa? Paradoxes, televised clichés. Starving children above bank account numbers on one side, Sir David Attenborough's mesmerizing voice-overs on the other. Not just the continent of Nelson Mandela, but also of Idi Amin. The Origin of Man, as well as The Origin of Aids.
From my most recent trip to Africa I remember towels of German tourists on the seats surrounding the highly-guarded luxury swimming pool, souk alleys so narrow I wouldn’t dare entering, tourist shops where I had to haggle. Mainly I remember: vicarious shame. Seasoned travelers all describe similar African experiences: the contrast, the people, the heat, the drought, the poverty, the splendor, the pride, the smell.
In an attempt to discover a common thread and to understand the continent, I create an archive of newspaper clippings per country, per cliché. I read everything by Kees Broere, the Volkskrant's Africa correspondent. Thirty centimeter stories of hope and despair, guilt and innocence, heroes and villains.
Courtemanche and Eggers
When I tell Joop Meijer from the M-ABC Book Club about my African project, he gets me Gil Courtemanche's A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali and Dave Eggers' What is the What.
I read Courtemanche in September 2007, Eggers in February 2008.
Compared to my anger, Courtemanche is FURIOUS with exclamation marks. Everything and everyone gets a piece of the blame – the peacekeepers, the UN, the IMF, the World Bank, the media, Canada, France, Courtemanche himself. I think it's a terrible book. A book about hate, written with hate. It is impossible to put down, but it can't end with this despair, these accusations, with everyone to blame.
What is the What by Dave Eggers is poignantly beautiful. The horrors are given relief, depth and power through the narrator’s voice, Valentino Achak Deng – his choices, how he makes them and why. The scene in which you understand that this child hates his own people is shocking: ‘We don't deserve better,’ he thinks, ‘so let us die.’ Speaking of perpetrators and victims.
No doubt Eggers is as furious as Courtemanche, but not unbridled not impotent or helpless. Although Eggers does not provide a solution either.
Subconsciously I refine my second assignment, as I resolve that my Book 3 will begin where Courtemanche and Eggers ended.
Standpointland (third assignment)
'There is still plenty to do in the Netherlands, sir,' says a voice on the radio. The noon talk radio program is called standpunt.nl – viewpoint radio. The viewpoint today is: Darfur deserves more attention.
'Why are we always talking,' he continues, 'about what is supposedly wrong abroad, with that typically Dutch raised finger? We always know so well how to do things for others.'
I shiver. Kipling's White Man's Burden, the argument reversed.
This is the period in which Peter R. de Vries rules the airwaves with his ‘solution’ of the Nathalie Holloway case.
Why do we always, I ask myself, pay so much attention to viewpoints? The rule of the street gets broadcasted daily, amplifying our lowest gutfeel opinions, not hindered by any factual knowledge on the issue. Since when is speaking gold? The Maurice de Hond-virus? Since Pim Fortuyn, wrongly understood? Who has decided that listening and dialogue are suspect and that reflection and nuance by definition lead to “poldering”? How is it possible that Wilders' ‘the minister is lying’ makes all the headlines (and four seats extra in Parliament)?
The third assignment to myself is born: How do you fight viewpoints without viewpoint? Loudness without being loud?
‘People are dying! We must act!’
Fortunately, there is still engagement and involvement. These are the words of Ira Newble, an American professional basketball player. Darfur has become sports news, the NBA playoffs are coming.
‘We cannot tolerate this any longer,’ says Ira.
Athletes with millions in salaries who keep an eye on the misery in the world, the hundreds of thousands of deaths, the millions of refugees, that is to be commended.
Ira is right. This is a call to arms. We have to do something. We. Something.
But who? And what? The army is elsewhere engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan. What is Ira’s plan? To collectively donate a monthly salary? To fly out there, shut down the NBA, meet in Sudan, join the barricades, start an epic battle between the forces of good and evil, Hemingway style?
No, Ira's plan is less ambitious, I read. To start with, he is contemplating a petition on the web, perhaps followed by a torchlight procession and eventually possibly an open letter to the government of China, because (says some professor) Beijing is responsible for the fact that only two hundred of the promised twenty-two thousand peacekeepers are deployed in Darfur.
Too bad, Ira, I think. You say we but you mean them, them in China.
Et tu, Asman?
The world is on fire, Ira does his best to contribute, and Asman knows better? Nice and comfortable, from the sidelines, Monday morning quarterbacking?
I always know better. Then what's the difference between him and me? That I don't shout it from the rooftops? Can I seriously maintain that? What is my position actually? In my books and my weblog I can be quite haughty in the spirit of Multatuli's ‘nothing is true and not even that'?
What would I do? What if Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, calls me during the haunted twilight of his last term in office?
It is Sunday evening.
Unknown number, I see on the screen of my cellphone.
I answer. Immediately I recognize his tone, his diction, the world famous, tired, husky voice, soft but compelling. ‘Willem, we need you. Time is running out.'
No one can refuse.
Happy now (2)?
Pack your suitcases and go there? Here I am with my laptop. I think of Paul Theroux's words: ‘Because it seems like Africa is not finished yet, it attracts mythomans, people who want to convince the world of their values.’
So not go there. I am no hero by nature. I would become a Courtemanche – hopeless, powerless, delirious – and one Courtemanche is enough.
What then? Call Jan Pronk?
I don't actually get any further. In the end, I am like Ira. I have nothing to offer but loud words of indignation. Like Ira, I delegate the problem and expect the solution from somebody else. I therefore decide not to call Jan Pronk, but to take responsibility myself. Writing, as my colleague Renate Dorrestein says, is solving problems created by yourself.
Of course this is no longer writing. Enraged, I am chasing Asman's solution to The Great African Issue, which will be so surprising and obvious that in retrospect it is unbelievable everyone has overlooked it all this time. It is no coincidence that my Book 3 has become the story of the man who came to believe his own reputation. It is no coincidence that I read Anger by Salman Rushdie and I am always right by W.F. Hermans (both at the top of their game). It is no coincidence that my Book 3 has become an angry manuscript with a nasty protagonist and an impossible and inhuman ending (boom). It has become the tale of the great indiscreet project of a man whose ambition blinded him. A man who has killed the magic with his self-set goals and assignments. A man who has forgotten his origins, a man who almost kills his great love in the process. A pushy man, a man full of anger, blind to the world, so committed and convinced and full of himself and his own good intentions that everything and everyone must give way to his viewpoint.
Happy now (3)?
Book 3 almost ended up in the trash.
But Pieter Swinkels, my unsurpassed partner in crime, convinces me in May 2008 that Wonderman deserves a second chance.
'What is the story about?' he asks.
Question below the belt.
ou write more than 120,000 words and then you conclude you have overlook the obvious. Did I fall into my own trap once again? That summer my doubts begin to take on almost existential forms: Should I take myself more or less seriously? Is this book actually about Africa? The United Nations? The role of the West? Guilt? Good intentions? About what is left without hope (an alternative?)?
Or is it about a man? If yes which one? The main character? The author? Maybe he should look at himself in the mirror? Maybe he should become less blind, less convinced? Maybe he should relax? Imagine that: trying to relax while the world is on fire?
What twist did Book 3 have in store for the man it's all about? What revenge, what rescue, what unexpected endgame? The answer is waiting for you, from January 15, 2009 in bookstores near you.
(WA, December 2008, with thanks to Nanda Brouwer)
How it continues
January 15, 2009
The book presentation takes place in the upper room of café Reijnders on the Leidseplein. Piles of my Book 3, its beautiful cover with the yellow glow designed by Studio Jan de Boer, are stacked against the back wall.
All those people, all those different tracks of my life, suddenly united.
Question, ‘How do you know Mr. Asman, if I may ask?’
Answer: 'Little Wimpie? I've known him since the day he was born. '
I gave my first interview live on the radio that afternoon, at BNR. Twenty questions in five minutes. It is not about answers, it is about speed.
I will not want for attention tonight. ‘Willem Asman is no longer the writer he wanted to be, nor the writer who wrote as he believed Willem Asman should write,' my partner in crime Pieter Swinkels mythologizes. 'Once again, Willem’s devilish cleverness succeed in making you think and look at the world around you once again with different eyes. And just like in the best What if-thrillers, it produces a somewhat disruptive experience.'
'This book is an excellent glass of wine,' says Pieter Hemels, somewhat bewildered with the first copy in his hand, confirming Swinkels' thesis, 'with in the last sip the taste of lees.' Deep in the night, he reads seven words to his young children, which they immediately understand.
I’ll never complain about reviews, but with Wonderman's endgame I have entered an entirely different new level. My third is being applauded everywhere, from NRC, Trouw, de Volkskrant to Panorama, KRO and Veronica, from Flair to Elsevier and HP / De Tijd, from the Dagblad van het Noorden to the Brabants Dagblad. I also receive praise from the diplomatic world. How many comparisons to John le Carré can a writer survive? 'Wonderman's endgame meets the demands of the genre to perfection,' Grand Old Man of the genre Tomas Ross declares publicly. Also noteworthy are: 'Asman's passionate message to the world,' by Korevaar and 'Asman has created his own genre,' by Jürgen Joosten. Traditionally Vrij Nederland abstains: 'Weird book,’ says Hans Knegtmans, awarding one star out of five.
This time I spot the first pile myself, during Simone van der Vlugt's party on January 20, 2009, in the Kooyker bookshop in Leiden. My first live buyer at the same time, Loes den Hollander. When I walk into Selexyz Scheltema in Amsterdam two weeks later, to buy Linda Polman’s The Crisis Caravan, I begin to realize how high Kooyker’s pile actually was: in this so-called quality bookshop there is a measly stack of four, hidden somewhere in a dark corner.
‘Is your book an accusation?’ I am often asked. Even if would have attempted one, I would stand corrected after reading Polman. The title of Chapter 1 gives me goosebumps: Imagine ... you get a phone call. Boom.
Polman wrote a stunning stupefying book. I'm so glad I didn't read it sooner – I wouldn’t have been able to resist the temptation to incorporate all of Polman’s tragic anecdotes into Wonderman. From Polman I learn that the discussion about R2P, the Right to Protect, to intervene on humanitarian grounds or not is almost as old as Methuselah. Florence Nightingale of all people was one of the strongest opposing voices, writing angry letters to Henry Dunant, politely questioning his sanity when he founded the International Red Cross. ‘By improving aid to the warring parties,’ she reasoned ‘we will prolong hostilities.’
This she wrote In 1863.
A century and a half ago.
No wonder nobody listens anymore.
Later Gijs Korevaar tells me an angry Red Cross spokesmen called him, demanding a retraction of a two-page interview with me in the Algemeen Dagblad (January 31, 2009) in which I stated my book was a plea to make the Red Cross think.
At the Oba Live radio broadcast I am the main guest for two hours. Tip: only have a round table discussion if all participants have more or less the same idea about the topic of the conversation. Arguably it would have made a difference. Without a clue we keep looking at the clock, talk and talk some more, and pretend to understand each other.
Another first: an invitation to the Boekenbal! On March 10, 2009 we exchange friendly greetings with Beau van Erven Dorens and Hans van Mierlo in the Stadsschouwburg. We smoke a cigarette with Jules Deelder and watch, with some amusement, the celebrities circling the news crews hoping to be noticed.
Power of Plots
Disbelief, bewilderment, anger and a call for the public hanging of jurors and the abandonment of the prize. All these and more land in my inbox after the announcement of the nominations for the Gouden Strop 2009. NRC and Trouw are outraged Wonderman’s endgame is not on the shortlist. Heartwarming, such reactions, ofcourse. The longlist of the most prestigious Dutch prize in our genre appears to be the highest attainable for Wonderman's endgame. Gert-Jan de Vries had more or less warned me, when he wrote in his NRC-review (‘Asman should win all prizes’) that it was arguable if Wonderman was still a thriller?
Am I disappointed? Disappointed doesn't begin to describe it. But not for long, there is work to do. ‘Juries are supposed to be incomprehensible,’ I hear myself say. ‘That's the magic of jury awards. If we could agree by ourselves, we wouldn't need them.’ And: ‘The only thing worse than a jury that's wrong is a jury that will explain why they're right.’
I am the chairman of the foundation that organizes the prize and I must behave.
For the genre and the prize, five new names nominated, and finally a female Dutch winner, it was the best result we could wish for. In any case far better than a Chairman of the Board crowning himself. And, I keep telling myself, it was never about awards, now was it?
Do I remember what was it about?
In one word, it was a pleasure to meet him. Unexpectedly, perhaps because I had also prepared myself mentally for the most headstrong and unlikable version of my fictional Jaap Vos – once again entangled in my own world, expecting the worst of my fiction to come alive.
'You have never worked for the UN? You were never in politics? You have never been to Africa? You have never met Jan Pronk?' Questions of both disbelief and admiration, which I heard repeatedly and with some pride.
For 45 minutes Jan Pronk spoke candidly about Africa, the UN, and last but not least about himself, his role and his relative achievements. Open, charming, friendly, generous, there are no other words to describe him. One of the members of the audience calls it a 'respectful, intimate meeting between two connoisseurs and enthusiasts'. Finally – as if I almost forgot – Jan Pronk is very complimentary about my book. He effortlessly mentions six aspects that struck him as completely accurate. The Sunday evening call from Kofi Annan? Sure, it happened to him, twice even. That's the way it goes.
My father and Pronk shake hands, look at these two old skool socialists, believers in a makeable world. My father beams with pride for so many reasons. 'Some paragraphs,' Tineke Pronk, Jan’s wife, tells Mac, 'Jan read several times, he thought they were so good.' She speaks of the high price the family has paid, for example when Jan stayed in Darfur for three consecutive years and she couldn’t for safety reasons. ‘The children were still young.’
One more nice detail: their son called from Uruzgan, a bit of alarm in his voice. 'Dad, they’ve written a book about you'.
Pa was shocked, he admits.
‘I contemplated calling you,’ I admit, ‘at the very beginning.’
‘Good thing you didn't,’ he replies.
How did he endure, all those years?
‘I chose this profession thirty years ago,’ he replies. ‘And after that it was more or less out of my hands.'
I am speechless.
De Diamanten Kogel
I am almost as stunned on November 24, 2009, at the announcement of the winner of De Diamanten Kogel 2009, the Belgian award for best crime novel of the year, when jury chairman Henri-Floris Jespers' voice sounds:
‘The sophisticated game of power and deception, the merciless reality and the battlefield of good intentions; the main character revolves around, is cheated, threatened, confronted and jaded, and at the end turns out to be a different kind of hero than expected. Willem Asman has certainly succeeded in the sober, realistic and poignant evocation of Wonderman's last days. But the author also and especially knows how to bring African reality into the limelight. Often incomprehensible to the uninitiated, but Asman makes it clear, thanks to a combination of information and insight, embedded in suspense, although not the usual suspense and certainly without the exaggerations that typify and sometimes disfigure the genre. With Wonderman's endgame, Willem Asman adds a strong psychological crime novel to his two previous titles. Both The Cassandra Paradox and Britannica proved to be the work of a creative mind with a sharp and stylistically strong pen. Wonderman's endgame, an intelligent book that provides insight into a complex matter, superlatively confirms this talent.'
(WA, March 2010)
Post Scriptum: During the holidays of 2009, Wonderman's endgame features in the VVV television commercial on Nederland 1, 2 and 3, thanks to Ilse Alblas (Hemels van der Hart)
Post Scriptum Scriptum: Wonderman’s endgame is re-released in 2019 by Gloude Publishing and available as audio book from Kobo Originals.
'A relevant political thriller beautifully written with typical Asman poise.' – HP / De Tijd, Marcella van der Weg
'The sophisticated game of power and deception, the merciless reality and the battlefield of good intentions; the protagonist wanders around, is cheated, threatened, confronted and jaded, and at the end turns out to be a different kind of hero than expected.
Willem Asman has certainly succeeded in the sober, realistic and poignant evocation of Wonderman's last days. But the author also and especially knows how to bring African reality into the limelight. Often incomprehensible to the uninitiated, but Asman makes it insightful, thanks to a combination of information and insight, embedded in suspense, although not the usual suspense and certainly without the exaggerations that characterize and sometimes disfigure the genre.
With Wonderman's endgame, Willem Asman adds a strong psychological crime novel to his two previous titles. Both De Cassandra Paradox and Britannica turned out to be the work of a creative mind with a sharp and stylistically strong pen. Wonderman's endgame, an intelligent book that provides insight into a complex matter, superlatively confirms this talent. ' – Jury report De Diamanten Kogel 2009
'With Wonderman’s endgame, Willem Asman prominently accepts the candidacy for all Gouden Stroppen en Diamanten Kogels that can be won in the Low Countries. Wonderman's endgame is the culmination of a rapidly developing writing career. It is an continuous dive of exciting elements, uncertainties, plot twists and big surprises. It has a rich theme, round characters and the style in which it is written is formidable. Asman uses a staccato that tends towards literary pointillism in both his descriptions and the act. Asman draws his readers closer to discern the details and then forces them back to see the connection from a distance. The big question is whether this literary book is still a thriller. A politically-angehaugte novel set at UN level surely cannot be a whodunit? No, it certainly is not and almost all other clichés of the genre are also missing. Wonderman's endgame has more in common with Tehran, a swan song by F. Springer, than with Grisham or Baantjer.’ – NRC, Gert Jan de Vries
'Wonderman's endgame responds enviously and to perfection to the demands you can make of the genre.' – Tomas Ross
'Super exciting and exciting thriller' - Flair
'A beautiful combination of information and insight, embedded in suspense, although not the traditional tension. Western powerlessness converted into visual language. ' – de Volkskrant
'Foremost is Asman's smart description of the actions of the international community. You cannot blame the writer for naivety. The way Jaap Vos is drawn is also clever. Like a modern Don Quixote who does not know when to give up, Jaap Vos is confronted with his past in a bizarre and at the same time poignant way. What a relief after all that Dutch-thriller-psychobabble: finally a wonderful and exciting book that is really relevant. ' – Trouw
'Wonderman's end game is as poignant as it is thrilling, intense and intelligent. Asman shows himself to be a great connoisseur of political mechanisms, with a fabulous insight into power relations. His description of protagonist Jaap Vos is magical. Wonderman's endgame is reminiscent of the beautiful books of Graham Greene, John Le Carré and Robert Harris. Asman is a thoroughbred storyteller, he writes extremely expressively and empathically, his language carefully polished down to the last detail. His dialogues are flawless. The story rages on with great depth. An extremely well written book that arouses indignation and makes one think. A book of international quality, Asman is the absolute top.’ – Crimezone
'Wonderman's endgame is an intelligent political thriller. Sharp and exciting.’ – Veronica Magazine
'Asman has a strikingly crystallized style. There is cleverness in every sentence. It is reminiscent of John le Carré, laced with Dutch swagger. The cadence is also pleasant. It goes from exciting jeep tours to musings on the bankruptcy of Africa, from bomb vests to a reflection on the merits of family life. Saving Africa comes at a price. Wonderman's endgame is perhaps more literary than thrilling. It makes you curious whether Asman can do that other thing too: writing a thoroughbred novel.' – Elsevier
'Asman's anger at the injustice and violence jumps off the pages. In Wonderman's endgame, Asman knows amazingly well how to capture the atmosphere in an African country. Moreover, he strikes exactly the right note in his descriptions of the national and international political world.' – Algemeen Dagblad
'From his debut it was clear that Willem Asman was an asset – even if it had remained with that one burst of creativity. But the writer hardly allows us time to catch our breath. Now there is number three already: Wonderman's endgame. Once again an excellent book, with a wise lesson included. ' – Boek Magazine
‘At the back of the book, Asman provides a comprehensive overview of books and historical individuals who inspired him. This mixture of facts and fiction makes the book extra exciting. As a reader, you imagine yourself to be a witness to a peace mission that could have happened last week. As if the author was conducting disclosure journalism. At the same time, Wonderman's endgame is a true novel. Asman is a clever, engaging storyteller. Although it is clear from the outset that Jaap's mission is doomed to fail, the denouement is still very surprising. 364 pages that you’ll read in one go.' – re.public
'If a writer allows a fictional political drama to take place in this time, with well-known contemporary politicians and recognizable situations, he does not make it easy on himself. After all, to be credible, the events and characters should not deviate too much from reality. This verifiability of facts places high demands on the story. Not every author is capable of such a feat. John le Carré succeeded very well with his book on Africa, The Mission Song, and now author Willem Asman delivers a current political thriller of comparable quality with Wonderman's endgame.' – Dagblad van het Noorden
'With this book, the KRO Detective website makes a side step, but one that your reviewer hopes you, reader, will appreciate. This book is not a whodunit in the classic sense, nor a detective novel or psychological thriller. A quest, written with compassion and knowledge of (diplomatic) matters, into the very essence of human failure. Does that sound too literary to you? No worries: there is ample suspense, enough cliff-hangers to enjoy for the fan of a story told with speed that can be seen as a political thriller. In his fight against windmills, Jaap Vos and his battle will become dear to you. Wonderman's endgame is more than a thriller. A painful story by the inevitability with which the downfall of a continent is described. But also on of hope, the belief that the Wondermen of this world will eventually achieve their goal, a peace. “There’s always hope. And if not, there’s an alternative,” Jaap concludes. The world can only hope he is right.’ – KRO Detectives
'Asman writes about Africa and world politics as if it were his daily work. The clever thing about Asman's books is that the reader does not realize that the writer is not an eyewitness nor an expert. He knows exactly how to find the right tone for the description of Africa’s nature, but also of the warring parties and the horrors of an African civil war. At the same time, it feels like he knows how things work within the United Nations.' – Plantagebooksandmore
'How much more current can you be? Asman tells the story straightforward. Each scene propels the story forward at breakneck speed. Wonderman's endgame is a committed, intelligent political thriller written by an author who cares about what happens in Africa. Full of intriguing characters and powerful dialogues. Wonderman's endgame is a haunting book. A white raven among the multitudes of boring relationship thrillers.’ – de Spanningsblog
'An elegantly written political thriller.' – bloedspannend.nl
'At times Asman reminds us of Le Carré, a great compliment. A committed political thriller. Solid, well-written. ' misdaadromans.nl
'Asman is one of the most talented Dutch thriller writers. Wonderman's endgame is a very exciting book.' – NRC Next
'Wonderman's end game is a humorous, sometimes cynical book. The predicate 'literary thriller' of this book is not an empty slogan. Asman writes accurate dialogues and shows without psychology how Vos encounters the limitations of himself and the people he has to deal with in Africa.' – Brabants Dagblad
'A political thriller, well written in the style of John le Carré.' – Noordhollands Dagblad
'Wonderman's endgame is a well-written thriller that even offers a glimpse into the kitchen of the United Nations. At the same time, the story makes us think about the dilemmas of peacemakers in wartime.' – International Collaboration Magazine
'Asman writes in a high paced, accessible way, and gives an interesting insight into the kitchen of world politics. At the beginning, you have to dig through African politics and the diplomatic world, but after a while you must keep reading. An exciting punchline too. This is a good book!’ – Panorama
'Wonderman's endgame is exciting, has momentum, is critical and committed, and last but not least extremely well written. A must read!' – Blz
'Wonderman's endgame is a very different kind of thriller than we have gotten used to in recent years. It's not a psychological story about women and their relationship problems. No, it is a harsh political thriller about the powers that rule the world. This immediately places the book at a higher level.' – scholieren.com
'Wonderman's end game is an impressive, committed, intelligent political thriller. Willem Asman has a great insight into political mechanisms, power relations, group processes, negotiation techniques and psychological warfare. If the first two are just as good as his third, I should definitely read those too.' – Radio 1, KRO's Nacht van het Goede Leven
'Wonderman's endgame is one of the best Dutch thrillers of this year, a definitive Gouden Strop candidate. Of the level that John Le Carré achieved in his recent Africa books.' deleunstoel.nl