It is my great pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for Blue Night by Simone Buchholz. The first book in the Chastity Riley series, it is published by Orenda Books and is available now in ebook and from 28th February in paperback. My thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of the tour. I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you in just a moment, but first of all let’s take a look at the book blurb.
The Official Book Blurb
After convicting a superior for corruption and shooting off a gangster’s crown jewels, the career of Hamburg’s most hard-bitten state prosecutor, Chastity Riley, has taken a nose dive: she has been transferred to the tedium of witness protection to prevent her making any more trouble.
However, when she is assigned to the case of an anonymous man lying under police guard in hospital – almost every bone in his body broken, a finger cut off, and refusing to speak in anything other than riddles – Chastity’s instinct for the big, exciting case kicks in.
Using all her powers of persuasion, she soon gains her charge’s confidence, and finds herself on the trail to Leipzig, a new ally, and a whole heap of lethal synthetic drugs. When she discovers that a friend and former colleague is trying to bring down Hamburg’s Albanian mafia kingpin single-handedly, it looks like Chas Riley’s dull life on witness protection really has been short-lived…
I have to be honest, this is quite an unusual book. Not in a bad way at all, but the styling of it, the way in which the central story, told in Chas’s voice, is interspersed with small chapters told from different perspectives, does take a bit of getting used to. Partly this is because, in the early days of the story, we do not know who a lot of the characters are. As the story progresses, as you learn more of what is going on and get to grips with the characters who are key to the plot, this all falls swiftly into place and makes perfect sense. In a weird kind of way I even started to look forward to the little interludes. Short and sweet they really drive the action forward. It is a truly fresh narrative style which slowly lays out an intriguing and complex story.
I don’t really know much about the German legal system and so trying to see where everyone fit together, especially Chas in relation to the regular Police and her jurisdiction on the investigation took me a while to work out. This is a story which takes the reader on a very unexpected ride, many diversions taken due to official and gang related road blocks, which bring the reader slowly but surely back to a surprising central thread. The story begins when Chas is in essence given babysitting duties over a victim of quite extreme violence, a man very reluctant to answer questions about himself, never mind his assailants. Not one to be put off, Chas decides to find out for herself just who this man could be and who attacked him, an task which brings her surprisingly close to home as well as taking her to the far reaches of Eastern Germany and an unexpected investigation.
The protagonist Chastity ‘Chas’ Riley is one you are immediately drawn to, a strong and ultimately engaging character in a richly drawn world of vice. She is an ultimately flawed character who acts first and perhaps thinks things through later. However I had a true respect for her and was happy to follow her through the story. As the lions share of the book was told in her voice, it is essential you can bond with her as a person and the humanity, the normality of her character, even an edge of vulnerability in her reluctance to truly open up to others, makes this possible. She is not Wonder Woman. This is not a one woman crusade against the bad guys, each of her friends and colleagues has their part to play in getting to the truth. But she is tenacious, she is believable and she is, most importantly, likable.
This is my first time of reading about the darker side of modern day Germany, the seedier side they don’t tell you about in the glossy tourism brochures but one which is reminiscent of any major city across the globe. Drugs, murder and violence are all a part of this story, not in a particularly gruesome way, but the threat is always just bubbling under the surface. Most of the action takes place away from any police station, a lot of it happening in the bar which Chas’s lover runs, or the hospital in which the mysterious man is still laid up as a patient. And perhaps because of this the action has that certain edge. It’s not gritty, not necessarily dark in tone, although there is little by way of hope in the story itself with the central theme actually quite depressing when you get down to basics, but there is just something. It’s really hard to describe but I liked it. I’m certainly keen to read more.
As I said before, the narrative styling of this book is very unique but don’t let it put you off. That fog you think you are seeing when you first start reading will lift and everything will suddenly become clear as day. And this point is where you will start to smile as you realise what a clever thriller this is. All credit to Rachel Ward too as the translation of this book is seamless, making the direct first person narrative of Chas, and the other assorted characters, just fly.
My thanks to publisher Orenda Books for the advance copy of Blue Night for review. It is available now in ebook and for paperback preorder from the following links:
About the Author
Simone Buchholz was born in Hanau in 1972. At university, she studied Philosophy and Literature, worked as a waitress and a columnist, and trained to be a journalist at the prestigious Henri-Nannen-School in Hamburg. In 2016, Simone Buchholz was awarded the Crime Cologne Award as well as runner-up for the German Crime Fiction Prize for Blue Night, which was number one on the KrimiZEIT Best of Crime List for months. She lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her husband and son.
Follow the author on Twitter.
Do make sure to check out the rest of the brilliant blogs taking part in the tour>