Hi and welcome to FromBelgiumWithBookLove where today it is my absolute pleasure to share with you an excerpt from Hotel Cartagena! My review is here in case you missed it the first time around.
Many thanks to Anne Cater for having me on the tour, and to Orenda Books for the excerpt.
Let’s have a quick look at the blurb first:
Twenty floors above the shimmering lights of the Hamburg docks, Public Prosecutor Chastity Riley is celebrating a birthday with friends in a hotel bar when twelve heavily armed men pull out guns, and take everyone hostage. Among the hostages is Konrad Hoogsmart, the hotel owner, who is being targeted by a man whose life – and family – have been destroyed by Hoogsmart’s actions.
With the police looking on from outside – their colleagues’ lives at stake – and Chastity on the inside, increasingly ill from an unexpected case of sepsis, the stage is set for a dramatic confrontation … and a devastating outcome for the team … all live streamed in a terrifying bid for revenge.
Crackling with energy and populated by a cast of unforgettable characters, Hotel Cartagena is a searing, stunning thriller that will leave you breathless.
Ready? Okay, let’s get to Hamburg!
I’ve got a situation with my ex-lover and my on-and-off lover, but then all the rest of us have heaps of situations with each other too. Calabretta, Carla and Rocco, for example, yes, everyone here has a past with everyone, and the resulting situation can be found in full and in detail at this table. Perhaps it’s just as well that Stepanovic isn’t here, perhaps it would even be a relief if he didn’t come at all now, because our situation already feels positively designed to overflow. As if just one more person coming along and sitting in the bathtub with us and then plunging their hand in there, into all the interconnections between us, would mean water everywhere.
I’d probably be the first to cry.
Why, I can’t say, I just feel a bit wobbly. That’s another reason why I’m definitely not the one who’d care if Stepanovic joined us, and the lot of you can take a running jump.
Instead, I try to sort things out a little. The situation and myself. Sitting at one end of the table is Faller, who wants to celebrate his birthday.
To his left are Inceman, Schulle, Brückner, then me.
Sitting opposite Faller is Calabretta.
Round the corner next to him are Anne Stanislawski, Klatsche, Rocco.
Then Carla, who’s just laid a hand on Faller’s left forearm and asked him if he’s OK.
Question and nod make me realise, in a heartbeat, that we’re not here for our own sakes, that we don’t matter a damn just now. Hey, friendship means stepping out of our own egocentric circles too.
We’re here for Faller’s sake, and all the lawn and flowerbeds and so on between us that have been trampled over in recent years are utterly irrelevant, and Carla’s question is the only one that matters: How’s the old man doing?
If I’m interpreting the expression on his face correctly, he’s quite content. After everything he’s been through in his life. There are two dead women anyway, two dead prostitutes, so women whose lives already weren’t playing out on the sunny side, and then along came Faller. He loved the first of them, Minou, and because he did and because he thought it was that simple, because he thought he was allowed to love whoever he liked and was allowed to save whoever he liked, she had to die. He didn’t even know the second. There had been absolutely no need for an introduction to her before getting mixed up in her death. Having tangled with the Albanian mafia was enough. And so the kid was dead. Lying in bed next to a knocked-out Faller, her underwear soaked in blood. Sometimes I still find myself asking how a man’s soul actually survives a thing like that. Well. The injuries are still clearly visible, at least for people who know a bit about injuries. Then there was the bullet right through his shoulder, which must definitely have left a few splinters in his memory, and which was my fault. After all that, a few years ago, he started fighting again, for justice, for his soul, to avenge his dead. And now he’s sitting here surrounded by people who like him. Sometimes, that liking even borders on love, but of course I can only speak for myself, and maybe for Calabretta too. The light in the bar lays a dark-gold filter over Faller’s face, softens the deep creases around his mouth, around his nose, around his eyes. He looks at us one after another.
Ready for more? Not a problem, Hotel Cartagena is out now in paperback and digital formats!