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Publisher's Summary

The incredible true story of a woman who risked everything to put her brother, a murderous psychopath and one of the world's most infamous crime bosses, behind bars.

Astrid Holleeder is in hiding because she had the courage to create this work. Her brother Willem Holleeder, best known for his involvement in the 1983 kidnapping of the CEO and chairman of Heineken brewing company, is one of the most notorious criminals in contemporary history. For decades, Wim ruled over his family mafia style, threatening death if any of them betrayed him. Astrid and her sister, Sonja, watched as their brother eliminated anyone who got in his way, and they lived in terror of inciting his rage, unable to protect even their own young children from his violence. Trained as a lawyer, Astrid served as her brother's unwilling confidante.

Now, she's turning the tables on him. Charged for his involvement in multiple assassinations, including that of his former partner and brother-in-law, Holleeder is finally on trial for murder, all due to the shocking testimony of his own family.

An international best-seller that has sold more than 500,000 copies in Holland, this stunning, edge-of-your seat memoir chronicles Astrid's terrifying experience working as a double agent, preserving her brother's trust just so she could get enough information to put him away for life. Judas is the intimate account of Astrid's deeply personal betrayal, set against the backdrop of their haunting family history and the astonishing world of the criminal underground.

©2018 Astrid Holleeder (P)2018 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Written while awaiting her brother's trial, Holleeder's engrossing story reads like the last will and testament of a dead woman walking." (Publishers Weekly)

"A harrowing, courageous account of murder and family... [R]iveting, sensational, unforgettable." (Kirkus)

"Compulsively readable...[Judas] is not only a fascinating examination of a criminal many American readers will be unfamiliar with, but also a moving and heartbreaking tale of the toll exerted on the families of headline criminals." (Booklist)

What members say

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Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Edge of seat and gripping story! Wow!

The Heineken CEO kidnapping in 1983 in the description caught my attention. I was curious what that had to do with a psychopath. Then the author literally pulled my attention into the 1996 scene of the attempted assassination of the sister's family in a car. I looked for a good stopping point so I could go to bed, but I was right there with Astrid, Sonya, and their children as the crazy, controlling, threatening brother has everyone so jumpy and on guard and 20+ years of their gripping tale had me on the edge of my seat all night. Watch for clues what the criminal investigation and judicial system in Amsterdam is like and wonder if there is a witness protection program. Just imagine the women and children through all the years of terror and death threats. I wish them quiet moments to come. The book really is worth a second listen already.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

I am being generous...

If this story wasn’t as newsworthy as it has been, I would not have stayed with it all the way through, so badly did it annoy me

It is the story of a woman in the Netherlands whose brother was deeply involved with organized crime there, and who dominated and terrorized his whole family for decades including murder and attempted murder. Nothing would ever stick to him, law enforcement wise. The legal system there is depicted as much worse than useless, at times criminalizing the victims.

So after the woman, who had become a criminal defense lawyer, finally got sick of living like a paranoid rat in a hole, she and her older sister decided to turn his butt in and testify against him. This involved a couple years of her secretly recording him by wearing equipment she cleverly altered for maximum effectiveness.

Eventually the unbearable legal escapades began which were so insane they would’ve driven the strongest, sanest person stark, raving mad, if the account is accurate. And the author is no shrinking violet.

Which brings me to my point of this review.

All the way through the book the author depicts herself as this tormented, guilty “Judas” of a sister who somehow should never think ill of her monster brother who had even had a close family member killed and shot at others including young children. She continually beats her breast about how much she still loves him and feels wretched about being responsible for having him locked up for life (no death sentence there) and even seems suicidal about it at times.

She fully documents his actions and personality and understands he is a killer who lacks any conscience and yet she carries on like this. And this is a highly educated, very clever, astute woman who insists on blaming herself for him. I found that sickening.

Eventually he does get locked up but gets the case delayed again and again so things just dragged on with the seemingly impotent legal/police system. But while in jail, brother puts out a contract on sister’s life - both sisters in fact. This was expected by them for literally years but intensified the misery and fear they had been living with. And yet, our hero continued to carry on about her guilt and regret about him being locked up. She “wanted him to be free!”

During this time while waiting for any kind of court resolution, the author continues to offend by wailing about preparing for her inevitable death, preparing her family and having little “probably last” get-togethers... everyone weeping, etc.

I’ll stop right here and say, I believe a lot of the melodramatics in this book is for the eventual purpose of a movie script. Taking into account the idea that the culture in the Netherlands is not the same as ours in the US, I still can’t accept that a woman there still sees herself as to blame for everything and deserving of death for taking self preservation actions, which she seems to say aren’t really for her because even at the very end of the book she still believes she is going to be murdered eventually, but for others.

Perhaps I am being too judgmental because the legal system there really did come across as worthless, leaving her in reality susceptible to being killed because it would be unable to prevent it. And perhaps culture there is that women are more helpless than we are here. These things tend to reasonably at least partially explain her entire way of dealing with the horrible situation she grew up with and endured well into middle age.

But at some point, it seems to me that rational living demands taking full responsibility for everything in life that one can and refusing to assign responsibility too oneself for things out of one’s control. Not saying this is easy by a long shot. But anything else leaves a person in misery and conflict for life, or as long as one clings to things that can’t be reconciled in real life.

Deep down, I suspect the author played up opportunities for drama with an eye to capitalizing on her story with more than a book. And I definitely have no problem with capitalizing on it. It could be a way to ultimately accept and understand all that transpired and compensate for all the sacrifice involved.

However, slanting the character of the main person in the story as less than it would appear she would’ve had to have been to do all she did seems to cheapen the whole story, somewhat reducing it to a soap opera, instead of just stating the truth of it, which offers all the mellodrama the story needs.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • deb
  • 08-23-18

Edge of seat and gripping story! Wow!

The Heineken CEO kidnapping in 1983 in the description caught my attention. I was curious what that had to do with a psychopath. Then the author literally pulled my attention into the 1996 scene of the attempted assassination of the sister's family in a car. I looked for a good stopping point so I could go to bed, but I was right there with Astrid, Sonya, and their children as the crazy, controlling, threatening brother has everyone so jumpy and on guard and 20+ years of their gripping tale had me on the edge of my seat all night. Watch for clues what the criminal investigation and judicial system in Amsterdam is like and wonder if there is a witness protection program. Just imagine the women and children through all the years of terror and death threats. I wish them quiet moments to come. The book really is worth a second listen already.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • farmhouselady
  • 09-09-18

I am being generous...

If this story wasn’t as newsworthy as it has been, I would not have stayed with it all the way through, so badly did it annoy me

It is the story of a woman in the Netherlands whose brother was deeply involved with organized crime there, and who dominated and terrorized his whole family for decades including murder and attempted murder. Nothing would ever stick to him, law enforcement wise. The legal system there is depicted as much worse than useless, at times criminalizing the victims.

So after the woman, who had become a criminal defense lawyer, finally got sick of living like a paranoid rat in a hole, she and her older sister decided to turn his butt in and testify against him. This involved a couple years of her secretly recording him by wearing equipment she cleverly altered for maximum effectiveness.

Eventually the unbearable legal escapades began which were so insane they would’ve driven the strongest, sanest person stark, raving mad, if the account is accurate. And the author is no shrinking violet.

Which brings me to my point of this review.

All the way through the book the author depicts herself as this tormented, guilty “Judas” of a sister who somehow should never think ill of her monster brother who had even had a close family member killed and shot at others including young children. She continually beats her breast about how much she still loves him and feels wretched about being responsible for having him locked up for life (no death sentence there) and even seems suicidal about it at times.

She fully documents his actions and personality and understands he is a killer who lacks any conscience and yet she carries on like this. And this is a highly educated, very clever, astute woman who insists on blaming herself for him. I found that sickening.

Eventually he does get locked up but gets the case delayed again and again so things just dragged on with the seemingly impotent legal/police system. But while in jail, brother puts out a contract on sister’s life - both sisters in fact. This was expected by them for literally years but intensified the misery and fear they had been living with. And yet, our hero continued to carry on about her guilt and regret about him being locked up. She “wanted him to be free!”

During this time while waiting for any kind of court resolution, the author continues to offend by wailing about preparing for her inevitable death, preparing her family and having little “probably last” get-togethers... everyone weeping, etc.

I’ll stop right here and say, I believe a lot of the melodramatics in this book is for the eventual purpose of a movie script. Taking into account the idea that the culture in the Netherlands is not the same as ours in the US, I still can’t accept that a woman there still sees herself as to blame for everything and deserving of death for taking self preservation actions, which she seems to say aren’t really for her because even at the very end of the book she still believes she is going to be murdered eventually, but for others.

Perhaps I am being too judgmental because the legal system there really did come across as worthless, leaving her in reality susceptible to being killed because it would be unable to prevent it. And perhaps culture there is that women are more helpless than we are here. These things tend to reasonably at least partially explain her entire way of dealing with the horrible situation she grew up with and endured well into middle age.

But at some point, it seems to me that rational living demands taking full responsibility for everything in life that one can and refusing to assign responsibility too oneself for things out of one’s control. Not saying this is easy by a long shot. But anything else leaves a person in misery and conflict for life, or as long as one clings to things that can’t be reconciled in real life.

Deep down, I suspect the author played up opportunities for drama with an eye to capitalizing on her story with more than a book. And I definitely have no problem with capitalizing on it. It could be a way to ultimately accept and understand all that transpired and compensate for all the sacrifice involved.

However, slanting the character of the main person in the story as less than it would appear she would’ve had to have been to do all she did seems to cheapen the whole story, somewhat reducing it to a soap opera, instead of just stating the truth of it, which offers all the mellodrama the story needs.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful