Beton Rouge by Simone Buchholz Orenda Books February 21st 2019
On a warm September morning, a man is found unconscious and tortured in a cage at the entrance to the offices of one of Germany’s biggest magazines. He’s soon identified as a manager of the company. Three days later, another manager appears in a similar way.
The magazine staff were facing significant layoffs, so sympathy for the two men is in short supply. Chastity Riley and her new colleague Ivo Stepanovic are tasked with uncovering the truth behind the attacks, an investigation that goes far beyond the
revenge they first suspect, to the dubious past shared by both victims. Travelling to the south of Germany, they step into the hothouse world of boarding schools, where secrets are currency, and monsters are bred…monsters who will stop at nothing to protect themselves.
Chastity Riley was back but was she still the same, hard, impenetrable character we discovered in Blue Night? In respect of being hard and impenetrable I would have to say, yes, and perhaps more so, but this time there was something different. I felt Riley had reached a crossroads in her life, she seemed unsettled, unsure, even depressed. I wasn’t quite sure what the catalyst was, but maybe it was her new colleague Stepanovic. He came across as pretty similar to Riley, a bit of a loner, no obvious relationship and it was almost as if they had discovered something mutual, something that clicked and I could see their relationship developing, maybe into the next novel.
They appeared to work so well together as they attempted to solve the case of two men tortured and unceremoniously placed in cages in public for all to see. An unusual crime, that made for interesting reading made even more intriguing as they dug deeper.
The city of Hamburg once again played its part, its cobbled streets and back street bars gave it a gritty, edgy feel, perfectly matching Riley’s personality.
What impressed most was Bucholz’s structure, short punchy chapters, and narrative that was razor sharp. Whilst the crimes were there to be solved, they were secondary to what I thought was the real purpose of the novel. I almost felt like I was reading the inner workings of Riley’s mind, sensed her turmoil as she fought with herself. Change was coming and I am not sure she liked it, it left her adrift and I wondered if Bucholz was using Beton Rouge as a stepping stone to something bigger and more challenging and spectacular in book three. I may have found Riley frustrating at times but you couldn’t help but hold a grudging admiration and respect for Bucholz’s creation.
Roll on book and three and please don’t take too long Simone Bucholz.
I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Beton Rouge to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Simone Buchholz was born in Hanau in 1972. At university, she studied Philosophy and Literature, worked as a waitress and a columnist, and trained to be a journalist at the prestigious Henri-Nannen-School in Hamburg. In 2016, Simone Buchholz was awarded the Crime Cologne Award, and second place in the German Crime Fiction Prize, for Blue Night, which was number one on the KrimiZEIT Best of Crime List for months. She lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her husband and son.