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 , who is being targeted by a young 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.
There is always that moment before you open the first page of a new Chastity Riley novel, where you held your breath and got ready for what Bulchholz was going to throw at her. Hotel Cartegena started out quietly as Riley went to meet friends and colleagues to celebrate a birthday in a plush hotel. Now this is something we were definitely not used to, Riley in a posh hotel, not in one of the backstreet bars of Hamburg? You could sense Riley felt just a tad uncomfortable not just about her surrounding but also the people she was about to meet, her love life the usual disaster zone that we had become used to.
Just as she settled down, eyed everyone up, bang they were now hostages, and Riley, after cutting her finger felt decidely dodgy. What would she do? Would we have an action packed overwhelming of the hostage takers? The answer to that question was a no as Buchholz changed tack and instead concentrated on the ring leader, his character and the reasons behind his actions.
Henning, brought up in the harshness of Hamburg, who escaped to Columbia intent on a new and trouble free life, but this was a Bulchholz novel and you knew that was just not going to happen. Henning may have been inticed into the world of Columbian drug smuggling, and the lure of cash, but Bulchholz didn’t make me dislike him, he wasn’t outwardly violent, he was just a man who wanted a better life. Even when tragedy struck, it was the quiet, determined way in which he exacted revenge that I liked and in some ways Bulchholz made me admire him even more. That revenge was somehow satisfying and grotesque, drawn out and slow, and so not what you would have expected which was just typical of Bulchholz.
Now we may not have had a lot of dramatic action but that doesn’t mean to say there wasn’t any, it was just that Bulchholz knew how to make us readers wait, to slowly build up to that moment.
The flitting backwards and forward between past and present, between Henning and Riley, meant Bulchholz built up that tension, had us waiting, watching, wondering when that explosive moment would finally happen. You could sense Riley’s impatience, her lack of control, her muddled thinking on how she could resolve the situation, until it just happened, Riley for once sidelined, an onlooker.
I got the feeling, Bulchholz wanted to show us a different Riley, maybe one with some of the edges rubbed off, not at her best, but just simmering below boiling point before something more lay in store. It was almost as if it was a stepping stone for Bulchholz to change some of the old, wether that be thoughts, feelings or more importantly people.
The ending certainly left me curious, impatient and wanting more.
I would like to thank Orenda for a copy of Hotel Cartagena to read and review and to 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 as well as runner-up 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.