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.
Hi and welcome to my review of Hotel Cartagena!
Hotel Cartagena is the fourth Chastity Riley novel to be published in the UK by Orenda Books, and if you really want to, you could read it as a standalone, but I do feel part of the story draws on a lot of personal history between the characters so I would recommend you read the other books first.
Is it ever truly January without a Chas Riley story? Well no, not for me at least, at the start of a new year it is always such a joy to go back to Hamburg and find out what mischief Chas has been up to!
Hotel Cartagena takes us to a birthday celebration in a fancy hotel bar in Hamburg, with Chas and her co-workers, including her ex and a friends-with-benefits sort of colleague, so one might say things are a bit messy and complicated to start with. And that’s before the twelve dark suits show up carrying Uzis and sawn-off shotguns and .45 Colts.
Before long we have an actual hostage situation on our hands. But what is the point, what is there to gain? As time stretches, the hostage-takers remain quite friendly and no demands are made. Simone Buchholz makes us wait for clarity quite a while, so much so that Chas and her big mouth can’t help but ask: “What did you have in mind? Stockholm syndrome?” Little does she know “the wurst is yet to come” (HA!!)
At the same time, Hotel Cartagena takes us to Cartagena, Colombia where a drugs empire is in the making. I do love me a drugs cartel kind of story and Simone writes about it like she was there to witness it herself.
Short and snappy chapters switch between different points of view, between the first person and third person present tense, between the 80s/90s and the present, between Germany, Colombia and Curaçao, propelling the story forwards at quite a pace, mixing things up, keeping me eager to read on and know more. It was also loads of fun to see the parts all come together.
I just love Simone’s writing style, I’ve said it plenty of times before and I’m sure I’ll keep repeating it. Taut and poetic, you never know what might be around the corner. Chas is very much jaded and most of the time she’s a bit of a sarcastic cow (and I say that with all the love) but then she goes and says stuff like: “His expression drops into the middle of my heart and explodes.” I LOVE that!
Unless you speak German, you can’t have one without the other: once again I am in awe of Rachel Ward. Respecting Simone’s unique style and keeping the German vibe going, while creating a readable English equivalent of the German original is nothing to sneeze at.
Hotel Cartagena is another fantastic instalment in the Chastity Riley series. If you enjoyed the previous books this is a must read, and if you’re new to the Queen of Krimi then do check out this series!
Hotel Cartagena is out today in eBook format, happy e-publication day to Simone and Rachel! The paperback is out on the 4th of March.
Huge thanks to Orenda Books for the proof copy! All opinions are my own.