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Drugs thriller set in Hamburg

28th February 2018

Blue Night by Simone Buchholz, drugs thriller set in Hamburg (excellently translated by Rachel Ward).

Drugs thriller set in Hamburg

The career of Chastity Riley, a state prosecutor in Hamburg, is going nowhere. She has had one of her bosses convicted for corruption and wounded a gangster by unnecessarily shooting and wounding him. She is ‘rewarded’ by being transferred to witness protection – a kind of non job. A middle-aged Austrian man is badly beaten up and hospitalised – Chastity is sent to sit by his bed and encourage him to talk (which he is somewhat reluctant to do). The presumption is that this he is the victim of an underworld vendetta.

In parallel a story of drug running and murder develops. Crack cocaine is rife in Hamburg and an upstart gang is challenging the long time (and now seen as respectable) Albanian godfather, Gjergj Malaj, for distribution rights, It is a violent world that brings in the drug from Eastern Europe and uses Hamburg as a centre for onward delivery to the West. Disloyalty is not rewarded.

Chastity’s victim begins to talk. And he talks of Malaj and drug wars. The two stories begin to come together. Chastity makes a trip to Leipzig to meet a drugs officer. Together they travel on into the Czech Republic – from where both crack cocaine and a deadly new synthetic drug are sourced. A thrilling climax back in Hamburg is set up.

Blue Night is a very well constructed and very well written thriller. But, to my mind, one of the features of the book is not the story itself… It is the friendship between Chastity and her weird and wonderful set of misfits – some police and law enforcement, some not. They all look out for each other. The Blue Night of the title is a bar just off the Reeperbahn owner by her boyfriend, Klatsche. He is an ex-burglar who specialised in picking locks. It is the centre point for them to get together… and drink, and talk. There is Georg Faller, a friend and former colleague, intent on waging a one man war to bring down Malaj, Vito Calebretta, another policeman – mourning the loss of the love of his life, and Carla, a Portuguese with a café – and a boyfriend called Rocco who is the chef. They are an eclectic, but very believable, bunch. The other star is Hamburg itself. The dirty, sordid – and yet beautiful – city comes through loud and clear. Ideal TripFiction material.

Blue Night was top of the German crime bestsellers list for several months – and it is easy to understand why. It is both exciting and moving – noir with a whole new slant.

Tony for the TripFiction team

You can follow Simone on Twitter, and via her website.

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