Bernice Berkleef (1986) has been named the winner of the Golden Strop 2021 thanks to her thriller Bloedsteen, the young thriller writer and freelance journalist received this award on Saturday for the best Dutch exciting book, consisting of a cash amount of €10,000 and a sculpture by the Amsterdam sculptor Marianne van den Heuvel.
The jury, led by journalist Koen Voskuil, called her book “a handsome and exciting thriller that connects past and present.” There were also compliments for ‘the well-witted characters’ she performs and the build-up of her story, which is largely set in Indonesia and ends ‘in an unexpected way’.
Bloodstone, about a hidden family history on the island of Java, is the second thriller by Berkleef. Previously she impressed with Cody, a poignant story about a mother who finds her son‘s crib empty one day, while the father reported to the police station with the maxi-cosi of their missing child. Is he to be trusted?
Berkleef, who completed an education in Tourism and a study of HBO law, did not see a career in these subjects. Writing was her secret passion from childhood, and she decided to try her luck as a writer. Her first was a youth book, De Missie van Kim Dakerveld, which immediately stood out: it was nominated in 2012 for De Zoute Zoen, a well-known Flemish youth book prize. She released her own series Flame, aimed at young people, before she took the step to publish her first thriller.
Other writers also fell in the prizes on Saturday. For example, the Fleming Toni Coppers received the Hebban Thriller Prize (a readers’ prize from this online community) for his book Val. Debutant Floris Kleijne was awarded the Shadow Prize for Klaverblad, an incentive prize for the best thriller debut. De Zilveren Strop, a professional jury prize for the best Dutch exciting story that was awarded for the first time this year, was for Hugo Luijten.