Rob Vente is a Feyenoord fan, a writer of thrillers and a cult hero. He just published his ninth thriller in four-and-a half years: ‘The Erasmus Murder’. He’s churning out books at breakneck speed. The main ingredients? A murder, Feyenoord, and Detective Fred Groen.

“An interview? Always a pleasure!” was Vente’s reaction to an interview request. “Watch out though, I’ll talk your ear off,” he joked. He’s living in Papendrecht with his second wife Jane in a stylish, modern house. Even the coat stand is out of sight, concealed in an elegant closet set in the wall. At first glance, there is no outward sign of his fanatical support of Feyenoord, but the football anecdotes of the retired football reporter and son of a professional footballer reveal his passion.

‘The Erasmus Murder’. Does Desiderius die in your book? Or does the murder take place on the campus?

Vente laughs: “No, the murder doesn’t take place at Erasmus University; it takes place at the Erasmussingel. That’s why the police commissioner always referred to it as ‘The Erasmus Murder’. It’s about a murder of someone who on the surface seems to be nothing more than a boring bank employee, a yes-man. But as the story develops it turns out that still waters run deep.”

“The cover was however created at the university. The publisher found that the most attractive in the artistic sense.” Jane, who used to be a photographer for the Feyenoord magazine, took the picture. She reads everything Vente writes and he can always ask her for help if he needs to know anything.

Many of the covers feature a ‘cover girl’ with Feyenoord related apparel. “It doesn’t have to be a banner, sometimes it’s a t-shirt or leggings with a Feyenoord logo printed on it. That appeals to my readers”.

What is your bond with Feyenoord?

“You could say I grew up with Feyenoord.” With modest pride, he relates the story about his father Leen Vente, a story etched in his memory. “On 27 March 1937, my father scored the very first goal in De Kuip stadium. Two weeks later, he also scored the first goal in Feyenoord’s stadium with the Dutch national team, in the same goal. I was brought up with Feyenoord.”

“As a ‘lad’ at the Higher Civic School, I was only good at one thing: writing. During his military service, he applied for a job at the newspaper Rotterdams Nieuwsblad, and spent the next forty years writing for this paper. “I was what you would call the head football writer. I followed Feyenoord across the world: Europa Cup, World Cup, Argentina, all the championships” he says in his Rotterdam accent.

“That was at a time when newspapers still had money,” recalls Vente. “Back then I would come back from a trip and I would ask: ‘hey, where is Rob Rensenbrink playing these days?’ And the boss would say: ‘Now that would make for an interesting story!’ Of course I knew all along he was playing in Toulouse, and then I would be given an assignment to go there. I loved that world. ”

Do you still visit the club often?

Vente shakes his head sadly. “I don’t go very often during matches. I always did a lot for Feyenoord behind the scenes and I never asked for any kind of compensation. This put me in a position to get all kinds of inside information for the newspaper. As a thank-you I was given a club card for life along with a parking spot. But times change and there are new people at the club with a different mentality. They said ‘That’s finished, we’re going to put an end to this.’”

But he doesn’t need to be at the club every week. “I watch matches on TV and I’m active on Facebook. Yesterday I posted “In my book ‘The Erasmus Murder” I’m still a modest chap. I only let Feyenoord defeat Sparta by a score of two-nil.” I immediately had 200 likes. We Feyenoord supporters love that kind of thing.”

You’re sometimes compared to Baantjer. Is that insulting considering you’re from Rotterdam?

“No, it’s not an insult,” says Vente with a grin, “that man has written a lot of good books. But there are some big differences. I’m Rotterdam through and through, while Baantjer embodies Amsterdam, down to that infuriating Ajax flag on his car.”

And do they sell as well as the Baantjer books?

“Oh, I have no idea. I’m not really materialistic so I leave that to the publisher.” He gets a lot of praise on Facebook. “From all over the country, whether it’s Brabant, Limburg or the United States, people like the books. But I should add that these are reactions from people with roots in Rotterdam. My books are about Rotterdam. I use street names and write about the city. People like reading about their own city in a book. It’s a bit of nostalgia for them.”

And how about readers from Amsterdam? Vente once read comments from someone living in area code ‘020’, about one of his other books about detective Fred Groen: ‘Feyemoord’ (a play on the words ‘noord’ and ‘moord’, meaning ‘murder’). That was less complimentary than other reviews of his books. “The good man said ‘well, it’s about time that club was murdered’.”

He’s most proud of what he hears from some Feyenoord supporters. “Among the Feyenoord supporters I’ve got guys reading who have never cracked open a book in their lives. On Facebook they would say to me ‘I don’t read, man.’ I replied ‘give it a try sometime, man’. And then they started reading more of my books.”