What does 'Copycat' mean?
+ + +
The word 'copycat'

The word 'copycat' is used for a certain action or behaviour that is imitates another. Imagine for instance that a bank has been robbed in an unusual and ingenious way. If afterwards, other bandits rob another bank in the same ingenious way, you can call that a copycat crime.

In chapter 23 of Copycat you can find the following dialogue between Zara and Steve. Zara pointed to the building..
'Professor Rimsky had the following plan: after the secret arrival of his twelve men on the island, his plan was that they break into the Clothes Depository Building at night. There they could grab some uniforms used by the guards: green overalls and army caps with visors. In these clothes they could easily mix in with the staff.' 'Good idea. We're going to copy that plan,' Steve muttered.

This is a case of 'copycatting'. By the way, the title of the book also refers to subjects other than just copying. Can you name which ones?

Movies and books with the title 'Copycat'
Copycat is also the title of an American movie from 1995 about a series of murders that resemble each other. The movie has nothing to do with the theme of biological cloning or with the book Copycat.

In 2003 the British writer Gillian White published a book with the same title. The storyline is a woman who imitates a girlfriend with an alarming precision. The subject of 'cloning' doesn't play a part in the story.

'cloning' doesn't play a part in the story. In 2009 another novel with the same title was published by Luc Deflo, a Belgian crime-fiction author. Just as in the above mentioned American movie, it concerns a series of murders that resemble each other. Book and movie have nothing to do with each other, nor with the subject of biological 'cloning'.
The maze
The maze in Copycatis based on a labyrinth from the book Mazes and Labyrinths of the World. by Janet Bord, published in 1976. According the book, this labyrinth was built in Nova Scotia (Canada). A famous English labyrinth near Hampton Court served as its source of inspiration. The plan was to use 1200 trees to construct the maze, and it was to be 51 by 41 meters.

This laybrinth seems never to have been completed. The maze in Copycat is for the most part identical to this one, though there are some minor differences. The most important part identical to this one, though there are some minor differences. The most important being that the maze in Copycat has its entrance in the centre (what is almost never the case in any maze).
The secret of the magic trick in chapter 47
First of all: a simple trick

This is a trick you can perform at any time without any special preparation. Take a deck of playing cards and ask someone to shuffle it. When you pick up the deck take an unnoticed glimpse at the card on bottom. Let's say it's six of spades. Now put the deck face down on the table and spread the cards out sloppily all over the place. Keep in mind where the six of spades is laying. Now ask someone from the audience: "Point out the six of spades." You take the indicated card in your hand. Take a quick look at it. Let's say it's the two of diamonds. You lay the card face down on the table and say: "Well done. Now show me the two of diamonds."

The card now indicated you also take in your hand. You take a quick look at it as well. Let's say it is de jack of hearts. You put this card face down on top of the other card on the table and you say: "Fine. Now show me the jack of hearts."

Now you take in your hand the third card indicated and you have a quick look at it. Let's say it's the queen of clubs. This card too you put face down on the table, on top of the other two cards while you say: "Now I shall pick out the queen of clubs."

Then you take the six of spades, the position of which you have remembered during the whole procedure. You take a look at it and say: "Right. The queen of clubs."

This card is as a matter of fact: the six of spades you coolly (but unseen) don't put it on top, but under the three other ones lying at the table. Then you say: "Do you remember? Six of spades, two of diamonds, jack of hearts, and the queen of clubs."

Finally you take the stack of four cards, you turn them face up and let them fall to the table, one by one.

Copycat: the improved version!
The little trick above is not bad, but a rather smart person can perhaps see through it pretty quickly. That becomes a different story if... you have a deck of marked cards. In other words: a deck of which every card has a little secret sign on it's back which make it possible for you and only you to see which card it is. You can buy one of these decks in a shop for magicians, or for instance at www.dynamitemagic.nl. When you perform the trick we just saw with one of these decks, you don't have to
(a) look at the face side of the bottom card of your deck, or
(b) pick up the indicated cards and look at their face side.

What do you have to do? After spreading the cards all over the table, you choose in your mind a card that lies somewhat in a corner. You read its secret sign. Let's say it's a nine of diamonds. In that case, you say to somebody in the audience first to indicate a nine of diamonds. You don't turn the indicated card face up, but you lay it in front of you. In the mean time, you read the sign on its back side. If the sign tells you for instance that it's a king of hearts, you then ask to point to a king of hearts. The audience member indicates a card, you lay it in front of you on top of the first card. If it is for instance a ten of clubs, you then ask to indicate a ten of clubs. The now indicated card you lay on top of the other two. You read its back side, let's say it's an ace of spades. Then you say that you will now take ace of spades yourself and then you take... the nine of diamonds, lying all the time in a corner of the table. You put it under the three other ones. Finally you turn the pile of four cards over. The audience will be flabbergasted. A fool proof trick!

Simon's remark and Zelle's enigmatic last sentence.
In chapter 58 suddenly Simon understands the magic trick. If you have understood the above explanation of the trick, you will see why Simon says:
"Wait a second! These cards are marked! She grabbed the last card herself, didn't she? Of course, that was the card she mentioned at the beginning! The only thing she had to do was to change the position of the chosen cards..."

Zelle's last sentence, at the end of chapter 47, was rather enigmatic:
"He has chosen the queen of clubs, but he doesn't know it himself..." Can you explain this sentence?
The secret codes in Strindberg's country-house in chapter 53
Zara and Charlie need to enter two codes to open the garden-door and the main entrance of Strindberg's country-house:


As you can see, Strindberg has chosen two combinations of characters that are not at all obvious. However, you probably haven't noticed that Strindberg has made codes that are easy to remember... that is, for someone who has the key. What could the key be? Take a good look at the combination of numbers. That could be two dates in years. They could for instance refer to events or persons related to these years. Try to think of what kind of events or persons could be interesting for Strindberg. From earlier chapters in the book we have learned that he is an engineer, a helicopter pilot and a music lover.

To switch off the alarm, Charlie types in:


This is a little joke of the authors. The characters are the initials of persons, but not from the past. To which persons do they refer? Strindberg's safe opens if you type in this combination of numbers:

18 - 49 - 19 -12

This code can be read as the combination of two years. To what or to whom do they refer?
Copycat funny allusions to the real world
The motto
Preceding chapter 1 of Copycat you can read the following motto:

The idea that the truth has to fight for its life is a sad discovery. The idea that the truth will not appear, unless it is given plenty of help, is rather upsetting.

This quote comes from the American philosopher and computer scientist Douglas Hofstadter (1945). You can find it in the fifth chapter of his book Metamagical Themas. Hofstadter says that superstition and all kinds of that sort of nonsense are often taken for granted, in contrast with scientifically tested facts. Of course, Stefan and his friends are determined to make sure that the truth is seen.

The outward appearance of professor Rimsky (chapter 12)
Professor Rimsky is described as follows:

It was a small, thin man with white, wavy hair that hung over his ears. His thick eyeglasses enlarged his piercing eyes.

The newspaper report a few chapters further in the book says that his first name begins with a 'C'. The authors have taken as an example, the outward appearance of a person from the real world, a Dutch painter. Which deceased Dutch painter had the first initial 'C' and looked like professor Rimsky?

The poster with the noble woman and the unicorn (chapter 14)
At the request of professor Rimsky, Steve goes to a meeting in a student room. When he arrives, there is no one there. He looks around and among other things sees this:

On the wall hangs a large poster with a medieval noble woman and a unicorn.

This is a little joke from the authors. This is in fact a poster from the real world. Laura and Simon started their book during a stay in Paris. There one can find, somewhere there, a museum exhibiting a tapestry with a noble woman and a unicorn. Do some detective work and try to find which museum it is!

The names 'Saskia' and 'Rex' (chapter 27)
When Zara walked around made up as a nurse, she had a conversation with a 'Saskia' who said that she had a crush on someone named 'Rex'. There is thrilling Dutch book with a main character 'Rex', whose girlfriend is also named 'Saskia'. (The book is translated into English.) Try to find out which book it is. Here's a tip: it's not a children's book!

Grandpa and grandma Petersen's dog (chapter 36)
When Charlie and Simon walk to their grandparents' farm, the dog Argos recognizes them. Charlie sighs:
"Argos recognizes us, even after ten years...!"

In another, very famous book, there is a dog that recognises his master after twenty years. And also his name is Argos. Do you have any idea who Argos' master is in this book?

A little joke with the names Steve Bernhardt and Zara Adena
In chapter 40 Steve asks Zara if acting like a nurse went well:

"How did it go, acting like a nurse?" "It went just fine. Maybe I have a hidden talent for nursing." "Or as an actress. So, what did you find out?"

When you juggle the names 'Steve Bernhardt' and 'Zara Adena' a little bit, you can see an allusion to the name of a famous French actress. Two questions: Which French actress is it? What do you think; will Steve and Zara get married later?

What is it that Steve has read? (chapter 59)
At night, under a clear starry sky, Steve tells Zara:

"I once read that there are two things people never will have enough of: gazing at faces and gazing at star-filled skies"

Where did he read this? There is a fine short story, Faces, by the Bosnian author Ivo Andric (1892 1975). Read this short story. You'll find the quote easily enough.

A little joke with the name of Julius Strindberg
In chapter 60 Steve shouts at Julius Strindberg:

"A playwright can make his character act whatever way he wants! We don't!"

Julius Strindberg is obviously not a playwright, although he certainly looks like one. So, with whom shouldn't we confuse him?
The Authors
Simon Burgers

Simon (1958) is a composer and language teacher. Among his works is music written for some Dutch movies. On Youtube you can listen to some of his pieces.

Laura Burgers
Laura (1989), Simon's daughter, finished high school in 2007. She was senior editor of the school newspaper of her school. She now studies Law in Amsterdam.