Walk through the world with a heart full of holes: River Clyde by Simone Buchholz tr. Rachel Ward #bookreview #RiverClyde

Mired in grief after tragic recent events, state prosecutor Chastity Riley escapes to Scotland, lured to the birthplace of her great-great-grandfather by a mysterious letter suggesting she has inherited a house.
In Glasgow, she meets Tom, the ex-lover of Chastity’s great aunt, who holds the keys to her own family secrets – painful stories of unexpected cruelty and loss that she’s never dared to confront.
In Hamburg, Stepanovic and Calabretta investigate a major arson attack, while a group of property investors kicks off an explosion of violence that threatens everyone.
As events in these two countries collide, Chastity prepares to face the inevitable, battling the ghosts of her past and the lost souls that could be her future and, perhaps, finally finding redemption for them all. 

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Hi and welcome to my review of River Clyde! We’re having a bit of an Orenda Week here at FromBelgiumWithBookLove 😄

River Clyde is the fifth instalment in the Chastity Riley series published in the UK by Orenda Books. I would highly recommend you read at least the previous instalment (Hotel Cartagena) if you want to tackle River Clyde since it will help you understand the state of mind of the characters a whole lot better.

Without going into too much detail, Hotel Cartagena left Chas Riley and her colleagues in a rather dark place. The Chas we see in River Clyde is therefore not quite the Chas of old. Call it PTSD, call it holes in her heart, Chas is not doing well and getting a letter stating she’s inherited a house in Glasgow is a welcome excuse to leave her job as public prosecutor and go to Scotland to try and escape all those painful memories.

While I didn’t hesitate to put the previous Chas Riley books in the crime fiction / crime thriller box, I have not the slightest clue how to classify River Clyde. While Chas is in Glasgow finding out more about her family history, the detectives she usually works with are investigating an arson attack, so there is a bit of crime involved, but contrary to the previous books, it remains on the backburner cos everyone has just so much personal shit to deal with, and anyway it’s the Chas-in-Glasgow storyline that takes the lead throughout River Clyde. You could call it drama, or contemporary fiction, or literary fiction, or magical realism even, but none of those fit the bill perfectly. 

Leave it to Simone Buchholz to come up with an entirely new, yet to be defined genre! One in which memories are living things, rivers are characters in their own right and you may just find yourself sharing a bottle of whisky with a ghost. Although I came for the crime, I was more than happy to stick around while Chas worked through all the emotions she has been burying in concrete and smothering in sarcasm, alcohol and cigarettes ever since we met.

A word of appreciation for Rachel Ward and another excellent translation. I really do think she was presented with a number of language conundrums with this one. I think the Chas Riley books are tough books to translate in general, to still get the author’s unique voice and style and message across, but it never shows. Wherever Simone Buchholz goes, Rachel Ward not only keeps up, but does so with pizzazz, and I’m a fan of both!

I feel like River Clyde might be a bit of a transitional book, bringing closure on the one hand and shaping the future on the other. Of course I won’t know if I’m right about that until the next instalment, but in any case I can’t wait to find out where Simone Buchholz might take her protagonist next!

River Clyde is rather short and snappy but it does pack a punch. It’s lyrical and always beautiful even when it turns ugly. I do believe it’s quite unlike anything I’ve ever read, and that’s really saying something coming from this jaded reader.

River Clyde is out now in eBook with the paperback to follow in March. (Pre)order it now directly from Orenda Books. And stay tuned for the Random Things blog tour in March, I’ll be sharing an excerpt with you!

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