Blue Night – Blaue Nacht is the sixth book in Simone Buchholz’ Chastity Riley series and the first to be translated into English. I discovered the book last year in a book shop, not realizing it was part of a series, or I would have started with book one. Oddly, the English translation has the subtitle “Chastity Riley book 1”. Be it as it may, I’m so glad I finally read it. I love noir and this is noir at its best.
State attorney Chastity Riley has done a few stupid things and so she’s not working in the state attorney’s department anymore but for the witness protection. This bores her no end. Feeling she needs some change, she takes her car and drives to the country. The car breaks down and Chastity is stranded somewhere on the road. Where other people would look for the beauty around them, all she sees is a lack of streets and people. And too much countryside. Yikes. Barely gone for a few minutes, she misses Hamburg, the Reeperbahn, the seedy haunts, her ex-gangster lover Klatsche, and the bars where she drinks until the early hours. This beginning sets the tone and introduces a character who is witty, sarcastic, laconic, lyrical, and always different.
Back in Hamburg, she’s assigned to look after a man who has almost been killed. He’s been beaten up severely and has lost one finger. It looks a lot like retribution. With cunning, kindness, and a lot of beer, Chastity manages to get his trust. While he doesn’t reveal his identity, he gives her enough information to begin investigating a crime ring.
The story is definitely interesting and offers a look into the drug problems big cities with large ports like Hamburg face these days. Cheap, dangerous drugs, produced in the East, are distributed in the West with maximum profit. The people in charge are able to wash their money and while everyone knows it, the law can’t touch them.
As interesting as the story is, it pales in comparison to the cast of characters and the style. Chastity Riley is a loner at heart but one with a crowd of friends. Some were formerly criminals, some are policemen, bar tenders, restaurant owners. A charming element of the book is that they all get a voice. In between the regular chapters are chapters in which each of the protagonists, including the nameless man, the criminals, Chastity and her friends get their say. In some books this type of approach doesn’t work, but here it lifts the book to another level.
I read a lot of crime novels this year, but this is the one I liked the most. The voice is so unique, the style so brilliant that it can keep up with a lot of literary fiction that is published these days. And the mood and tone are reminiscent of some of the best noir I’ve read in recent years.
I read this in German, that’s why there are no quotes. Please visit Pat’s blog (added below) to get an idea of the style
16 thoughts on “Simone Buchholz – Blue Night – Blaue Nacht – German Literature Month Crime Readalong”
Glad you enjoyed it! (There’s a back story to the numbering, to do with publishers and rights and stuff, as you might imagine)
I thought so, still. It’s common not to start publishing series in translation with book 1 but to name it book 1?
I felt (and still feel) much more ambivalent about (parts of) it a few months after reviewing.
I haven’t read your review yet, but I’m surprised you didn’t like it tat much.
This sounds very good. I am a bit obsessed with reading series in order. The fact that this was translated into English, but its predecessors were not, drives me a little crazy 🙂
I’m totally with you on this one. There was nothing that told me it was part of a series on the German book, which is strange as well.
It’s good to know that this has been translated into English as the characterisation sounds particularly effective. I guess the novel works well as a standalone read even if you’re not familiar with the earlier books in the series?
Very effective. I would say it works very well as a stand-alone, so from that point of view, o e can start reading with this one.
It’s available in French, I was already tempted, now I’ll put it on the TBR.
I hope they started with the first one. Do you know its German title?
The first title is called “Revolverherz”. I’m pretty sure you’d like this one. If it’s well translated as it very language-driven. I have no clue whether the first is as good as this one though.
Beautiful review, Caroline! This looks like a wonderful book in the great noir tradition! Chastity Riley looks like a great character. So nice to know that more than the plot, the characters and the style are what make the novel a pleasure to read. Makes me think of Raymond Chandler. I will add this to my TBR. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Thank you, Vishy. It reminded me a lot of Chandler. It’s so noir. Chastity is dark but so kind with people. I’d love to know what you think of it. I hope you’ll like it.
I love noir too and this one sounds like an original take on the genre. Definitely adding it to the TBR pile.
Makes me wonder why the sixth in the series was translated and the other five not.
Apparently for rights reasons. I just find it dishonest to call it 1st in series. I think you’ll like it. Of course, I can’t say anything abou the translation.
I agree. Very misleading.
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