Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Books Read: Beton Rouge by Simone Buchholz

On a warm September morning, an unconscious man is found in a cage at the entrance to the offices of one of Germany’s biggest magazines. He’s soon identified as a manager of the company, and he’s been tortured. Three days later, another manager appears in a similar way.

Chastity Riley and her new colleague Ivo Stepanovic are tasked with uncovering the truth behind the attacks, an investigation that goes far beyond the revenge they first suspect … to the dubious past shared by both victims. Travelling to the south of Germany, they step into the hothouse world of boarding schools, where secrets are currency, and monsters are bred … monsters who will stop at nothing to protect themselves.

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I'd like to thank Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour and Orenda Books for my ecopy of Beton Rouge to review.

In recent years you may have noticed that my reading habits have changed and that I'm reading a lot more crime and thriller books than in previous years.  I've especially enjoyed discovering new authors of translated novels and can now add Simone Buchholz and German Noir to my list. Beton Rouge is the first novel that I've read that has been set in Germany, a country I lived in as a child although admittedly I was mainly on British army bases and never visited Hamburg where most of the novel was set but did travel to Bavaria which also features. 

Beton Rouge is the second book in the series by Simone Buchholz that has been translated from German into English by Rachel Ward that features public prosecutor Chastity Riley.  I bought a copy of her first translated book Blue Night last year after hearing Simone speak about it at Crimefest but despite all good intentions I never managed to find the time to read it before Beton Rouge.

I will admit I initially found the format of the writing, short chapters with quirky headings, a little disjointed and a bit all over the place but once I settled into reading I soon found myself flowing through the pages as like Chastity I wanted to get the answers to the all important questions that arise from the cases involved.  A hit and run case that Chasity comes across whilst on her travels as well as a new case she's been assigned to working alongside a new partner, Ivo Stepanovic of the Serious Crime Office 44, of two men who have been tortured and left naked in a cage outside their office building.

One naked executive you could perhaps justify this as maybe a disgruntled employee making their feelings heard in a very visible demonstrative way but two... that's seems a more calculated crime of someone wanting payback but what for?  The more they dig deeper into the lives of the executives, the more they discover about their past connection at a boarding school in Bavaria.  And when a third executive goes missing who also went to the school they need to get answers fast before it's too late.

Chastity Riley is not your stereotypical public prosecutor, the image you conjure up in your head as you're reading is so far removed from what I'd expect of someone in her professional, responsible job to be and act.  She's someone who pushes herself to the absolute limits and seems to survive solely on cigarettes, coffee and alcohol and only sleeps when she absolutely has to. To some her bohemian lifestyle might seem destructive but for me it added another layer to her character, for despite her flaws she's someone who strives to do her absolute best and she does get results for the cases she's working on.

As much as the story was about the crimes involved, it's just as much about Chastity and the people she interacts with on a daily basis Klatsche, Calabretta, Faller, Rocco and Carla.  I'm assuming these are regular characters who have featured in previous books however I got enough background information to piece together their relationships and how they all fit into her life.  But whether Chastity is totally happy on the inside, I guess we'll have to follow her story as I hope that we get more books featuring her in the not too distant future.

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