An inexplicable pattern of vandalism is happening across the German city of Hamburg. Every night, vehicles are being torched. Is there more to this than simply wanton destruction? And who is behind it? One evening on the eponymous Mexico Street of Simone Buchholz’s tautly written new novel, a Fiat is set on fire in a less salubrious area – but this time there is a corpse in the car. It is that of Nouri Saroukhan, the wayward scion of the Bremen clan. Now that the crime and vandalism has been replaced by murder, tenacious public prosecutor Chastity Riley is handed the case and finds that her investigation of the dead man’s tangled personal life reveals nationwide corruption on a grand scale.
In Rachel Ward’s sharp and idiomatic translation, this is further proof that Simone Buchholz is a writer to watch – a fact that is becoming clear to more and more readers. The influences here are not of German crime writers of the past (or present), but lean and stripped-down American models, which are echoed in the economy of the prose – which means that the 200-odd pages fly by at speed. The appeal of the novel is further enhanced by the fact that Chastity Riley is a very distinctive heroine.
Reviewed by Barry Forshaw
Written by Simone Buchholz
Translated from the German by Rachel Ward
Published by Orenda Books (2020)
Barry Forshaw’s books include Crime Fiction: A Reader’s Guide, the Keating Award-winning Brit Noir and Nordic Noir. Other work: Death in a Cold Climate, Sex and Film and the British Crime Writing encyclopedia (also a Keating Award winner). He edits Crime Time.
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