Mexico Street by Simone Buchholz, Translated by Rachel Ward

Book blurb

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…

My thoughts

Well what a start to 2020! The 3rd of the Chastity Riley books to be translated (by Rachel Ward) into English is Mexico Street. It’s a humdinger of a story, one I believe you really should read. It’s part of a tremendous series, of which, I have previously reviewed Beton Rouge.

I wanted to post this on the eBook publication day (5th Jan) but I could only think to say this is a fantastic book, which I really enjoyed, you should rush off now, buy it and read it. Well, perhaps that’s enough but usually I would put some small reasoning behind the thought. Not a lot but, you know, a little on why I liked it, what I thought of the storyline, the characters. Then you guys would, maybe, think ‘Hey! I’d love to read that too’ and off you would rush to buy and read it.

So, the storyline!

Cars are burning all over Hamburg, Europe, the world. Why? Well, in Hamburg, Chastity Riley, Public Prosecutor, has been put on the case. It’s the sort of case she always gets these days. You know a dead end, unsolvable. So many reasons they could be being burnt – stolen, used in criminal activity, drugs or, maybe, for fun by mindless folk who don’t care what difficulties it brings the car owners. You don’t get very much evidence from a burnt out car. Even if Chastity saw the car on CCTV there are so many variables. Or maybe that’s not it at all, maybe it’s something else altogether, something entirely different, more important. Or not.

Anyway, we don’t get too much on the investigation into burning cars because when one of them is found and it has a body inside, well! That’s a different kettle of fish altogether. A dead body found in a burning car on Mexico Street. Life for Chastity is changing again. She’s given the case, a murder investigation! Is Chastity coming in from the cold?

This is a heartbreaking story which is beautifully penned by Simone Buchholz. She writes in her own unique way bringing us wonderfully quirky characters that you can so easily warm too and terrific stories.

Chastity Riley is a wonderful lead protagonist who I really like. Chastity is quirky, she doesn’t sleep much, she drinks, she functions better when she’s working – but maybe not always that much better – it all helps to soften the pain, blur the edges, keep the night at bay.

Stepanovic he needs to keep the night at bay too. He’s a good detective. He’s good for Chastity. They have a rapport and a friendship it’s supportive – and not. Stepanovic doesn’t like to sleep, sleep means dreams and he can do without those.

They team up again for the murder investigation it leads them from Hamburg to Bremen and back again. The story is so sad. Two young people from immigrant families, tribes you might say, who know from experience how hard life is in their community. Trying to break free from their fate brings them together. They dream of a better life in Mexico. Can they get there?

Simone Buchholz takes you on a crazy, Helter Skelter of a journey to find who murdered the man in the car. In doing so she brings to life the stories of Nouri and Aliza their early years, their home life, their desire for change. She skilfully integrates Chastity’s ongoing personal story. In this book an old friend returns to Hamburg. The way in which Buchholz writes Chastity is wonderfully bizarre, unique and enjoyable.

Along with Stepanovic we have his team – Rocktäschel and Lindner. There is humour, pathos and it is profoundly dark and intense. It will engage you from the first page and keep you engrossed to the last. A book you will not want to put down. It is a riveting read which will captivate and enthral to the end.

This series is so good I really hope that you will find time to buy, to read … and to enjoy it.

Acknowledgement and thanks:

I was sent a copy by Orenda Books after I commented on the cover, which is just stunning, on Twitter. Saying how much I was looking forward to reading Mexico Street by Simone Buchholz when it was due out. It was a real thrill to receive an Uncorrected Proof. So huge thanks to Karen and the team at Orenda Books for a copy of this wonderful, amazing book.


5 January 2020
5 March 2020
Audiobook: Coming Soon…


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 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. Follow Simone on Twitter: @ohneKlippo and visit her website: Simone’s website


Rachel Ward is a freelance translator of literary and creative texts from German and French to English. Having studied modern languages at the University of East Anglia, she went on to complete UEA’s MA in Literary Translation. Her published translations include Traitor by Gudrun Pausewang and Red Rage by Brigitte Blobel. Rachel is a Member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting. Follow Rachel on Twitter @FwdTranslations, on her blog, and on her website: ForwardTranslations

The Chastity Riley Books


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