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 suspect.
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…
Hi and welcome to Mexico Street! Let’s take a little stroll together, shall we, get some fresh air. Although, on second thoughts, the air is not that fresh at the mo… Do you smell that smoke? Someone set a car on fire! And there was a person in there! Poor guy. Although… I’ve heard his name is Saroukhan, you know, like the criminal family in Bremen? So maybe I shouldn’t pity him, who knows what he was up to. See those people over there, grimacing at their coffee cups? Those are coppers, and that one woman, with the uncombed hair? She’s Chastity Riley, the state prosecutor. If anyone can get to the bottom of this, it’ll be her. She may look a little rough around the edges (little sleep, drinking like a fish and smoking like a chimney will do that to a person), but she’s very capable, I swear. Say, who might that redhead be, slinking away in the shadows, you don’t suppose she was the one to torch the car, do you? DumdumdumdumDUM!
God how I love Simone Buchholz! There, I said it and I can’t take it back and I don’t want to take it back because it’s the truth! I was home alone on 2 January, zero energy (the holiday season always kills me), feeling gloomy like the weather, and I knew a stroll down Mexico Street was just what I needed, and it most definitely was! Nobody does noir like Simone, no other main character is like Chas, Mexico Street was just what the doctor prescribed. Now, you might think that at a little over 200 pages, I flew through it, but I didn’t. I purposefully took my time. Like its predecessor Beton Rouge, Mexico Street needs to be savoured, and I found myself doing just that, re-reading certain passages because they were just so beautiful.
Simone’s writing is quirky and a strange combination of taut and poetic. She doesn’t mince words, she never wastes words, Chas can be very blunt, yet there are some sentences, paragraphs that are almost lyrical, or chapters that look more verse than prose. No rhyme though, rest assured, and none of it feels like purple prose, it’s not done in a way that makes me roll my eyes and mutter “bloody hell, this again” but it does make me pause and go back and re-read and mutter “bloody hell, that’s gorgeous”. I’m not sure if everyone will appreciate this very distinct writing style, but I am a huge fan and if you’re on the fence, I’d urge you to try at least one of Simone’s books, you may very well become a fan too!
Mexico Street is the third Chas Riley novel published by Orenda Books, but it can be read as a standalone. There are a few storylines that continue but they are not confusing to new readers, I don’t think. Still, I for one am glad I started at the beginning, and I feel this series just gets better with every new instalment. I enjoyed Blue Night, I loved Beton Rouge, but Mexico Street is my favourite Chas novel to date and I literally can’t wait for the next one.
Mexico Street is timely and poignant, it’s part crime thriller, part star-crossed lovers love story and all noir, featuring a main character with an acerbic, sarcastic, dry sense of humour and a police investigation that took me to unforeseen places. Recommended!
Hugest of thanks to Karen Sullivan @ Orenda Books for the ARC, and to Rachel Ward for the translation, without which I never would have been able to meet Chas!
Mexico Street is available now as eBook and will be out in paperback on 5 March.