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Literary true crime about a master con artist

The Miracle of Belgium

Maarten Inghels

Over a period of forty years, master con artist Piet Van Haut has presented himself as a diplomat, as director of Johnson & Johnson, as an examining magistrate, as the CEO of Belgian Railways and as a billionaire. He has thereby stolen millions and now has a luxurious lifestyle featuring sportscars, private jets and classy hotels. Maarten Inghels became fascinated by the man and realized he had his hands on a brilliant subject for his next novel. He went in search of Piet Van Haut, and after countless meetings and telephone conversations gained unique insights into his life. He discovered that Piet is not merely a compulsive liar with a pathological craving for attention – he carries with him the burden of traumas and complexes that originate in his loveless childhood.

A subtle interplay between fact and fiction
Het Nieuwsblad

The better Inghels gets to know Piet Van Haut, the bigger the puzzle becomes. The author’s hunger for a sensational story carries him into a web of fiction and megalomania that the charlatan weaves tighter and tighter. Inghels also realizes that he is not immune to the criminal’s allure, since he finds himself all too keen to believe in the illusion of a guaranteed international bestseller that Van Haut puts into his head. Things take a truly menacing turn when Piet Van Haut changes his name to Maarten Inghels.

In an engaging style, Inghels tells the story of a real-life swindler, but at the same time ‘The Miracle of Belgium’ demonstrates what a perilous undertaking the writing of the book was in itself. He looks at the role of lies on many levels, in literature, for instance, and in life and authorship. The novel holds up a mirror both to the author and to the reader, compelling us to engage in moral introspection. Inghels meanwhile plays and interesting game with the boundary between fact and fiction. ‘The Miracle of Belgium’ is a shocking story about heroism, vanity, greed, ambition and manipulation, not just on the part of the con artist but on the part of the author too.

A brilliantly written novel
De Telegraaf
A true page-turner