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…
Fresh, fiendishly fast-paced and full of devious twists and all the hard-boiled poetry and acerbic wit of the best noir, Blue Night marks the stunning start of a brilliant new crime series, from one of Germany’s bestselling authors.
Blue Night was published on the 24th December 2017 by Orenda Books. Many thanks to Orenda Books for having me on the blog tour and providing me with my copy of the book for this review.
Blue Night is doing tremendously well in Buchholz’s native Germany, whereby it won the Crime Cologne Award and was runner-up for the German Crime Fiction Prize, and was number one on the KrimiZEIT Best of Crime List for months. Thankfully, due to the seamless translation by Rachel Ward, it has now been brought to the English speaking market.
Buchholz opens Blue Night with a powerful prologue that holds no punches and sets the tone for the rest of the book. Initially, I did find Blue Night difficult to get into due to the narrative style of short, snappy sentences but once I got used to these, I was immersed into Chasity Riley’s world. This is a very clever and slick book, taking its reader into the mafia underworld – bringing German Noir to a new audience.
Chastity Riley was a high profile state prosecutor however has been effectively demoted to a desk job within witness protection. Chastity is assigned to a mystery man under police guard in hospital following an attack which has left him with almost every bone in his body broken and without one of his fingers. The man enjoys talking in riddles however Chastity uses all her persuasion skills to find out a bit more about him which turns a tedious job into an exciting challenge.
I found that Blue Night was a book of two halves, the first half is a slow burn whereby Buchholz is building up the story, the mystery around the man in hospital and Chasity starting to build the man’s trust. The second half then ramps up this pace to a fabulous ending. The pacing and the unfolding of the story within the first half of the book made it very difficult to put down however during the second half of the book I found I couldn’t read it fast enough!!
A brilliant taste of German Noir which I hope is received as well in the UK as it has in Germany.
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.