Review: Mexico Street, by Simone Buchholz, translated by Rachel Ward


Hamburg state prosecutor Chastity Riley investigates a series
of arson attacks on cars across the city, which leads her to a
startling and life-threatening discovery involving criminal gangs
and a very illicit love story…
Night after night, cars are set alight across the German city
of Hamburg, with no obvious pattern, no explanation and no
Until, one night, on Mexico Street, a ghetto of high-rise blocks in
the north of the city, a Fiat is torched. Only this car isn’t empty.
The body of Nouri Saroukhan – prodigal son of the Bremen clan –
is soon discovered, and the case becomes a homicide.
Public prosecutor Chastity Riley is handed the investigation,
which takes her deep into a criminal underground that snakes
beneath the whole of Germany. And as details of Nouri’s
background, including an illicit relationship with the mysterious
Aliza, emerge, it becomes clear that these are not random
attacks, and there are more on the cards…

My Review

Thanks to Karen and Anne at Orenda for organising this blog tour and for my copy of this book. I bought the first two in the series just so I wasn’t going in blind. I adore Orenda books, especially since they do a lot of translated books.

I’m a bit fuzzy because I’ve spent all afternoon reading this book and it’s long past my tea time. I really need to eat but I also want to tell you all about this book.

*clonk* falls down from lack of food.

Right, I’m back, food has been ordered. Eating fish and chips at 9 p.m. is probably not sensible, but if I was sensible I wouldn’t have spent 5 hours in bed this afternoon reading, and then another hour or so on Twitter talking about books. If I was sensible I’d have realised about 5 pm that I was hungry, put the book down and got some tea, then finished reading. I cannot do this, not when I’m enjoying a book so much. Plus, I don’t really feel body signals until they’re really, really urgent.

Where was I? Oh yes, reviewing Mexico Street, by Simone Buchholz.

Chastity Riley returns, with all her baggage and more in this third installment, translated by Rachel Ward and published by Orenda. Since I haven’t reviewed the other two books, although I have them, and have read one and a half, I should introduce Chas.

Chastity Riley works for the public prosecution office in Hamburg, she has friends in the CID and Organised Crime divisions of the local police force. She also has friends in less salubrious places. Chas is the daughter of an American army officer stationed in Germany during the Cold War. She’s in her forties and has more baggage than the average shipping container ship. She probably has a drinking problem, and knows it, she’s acerbic, heartbroken and confused by life in general. And I absolutely adore her!

Cars have been burning all over the city, which is none of Chas’ business until one of the cars has a man in it. The man dies. A mysterious red-head is seen fleeing the scene. When they look into the man’s past, Chas and the murder team find that he’s an outcast from an important crime family in Bremen. The victim is also an insurance salesmen at a company where everyone seems to be on coke. Travelling back and forth between Hamburg and Bremen, they slowly unravel the case.

Lovely bit of misdirection. Sorry, tea just arrived, half hour early.

Now, where was I?

I remember. There’s a fantastic dive into the different cultures at work in modern Germany, and the plot turns on the misunderstandings, assumptions and ignorance everyone has about different groups of people. Even the eye witness made assumptions about the perpetrator’s identity. It’s a lovely bit of misdirection, and also really informative.

I enjoyed the descriptions of various places in the story, the atmosphere and sense of despair among certain characters, during the ‘present’ and in the flashbacks as the victim’s story is told.

The chapters narrated by Chas are spare, acerbic and witty, painful at times. I was enthralled from the beginning.

There are also ninjas.


The latest in the critically acclaimed Chastity Riley series 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 in 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.

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