Mired in grief after tragic recent events, State prosecutor Chastity Riley escapes to Scotland, lured to the birthplace of her great-great- grandfather by a mysterious letter suggesting she has inherited a house. In Glasgow, she meets Tom, the ex-lover of Chastity’s great aunt, who holds the keys to her own family secrets – painful stories of unexpected cruelty and loss that she’s never dared to confront.
In Hamburg, Stepanovic and Calabretta investigate a major arson attack, while a group of property investors kicks off an explosion of violence that threatens everyone.
As events in these two countries collide, Chastity prepares to face the inevitable, battling the ghosts of her past and the lost souls that could be her future and, perhaps, finally finding redemption for them all. Nail-bitingly tense and breathtakingly emotive, River Clyde is both an electrifying thriller and a poignant, powerful story of damage and hope, and one woman’s fight for survival.
I am so thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for the latest Chastity Riley novel by Simone Buchholz, River Clyde. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the publisher, Orenda Books, for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.
I always go into writing reviews of Simone Buchholz’s books with a sense of inadequacy and trepidation because I know, whatever words I put down on the page, they are going to be inadequate to describe what I just read. In the case of River Clyde, I am feeling this even more keenly than usual because this book is so unlike anything I’ve read before, so difficult to describe, so impossible to categorise.
It’s more of a surreal dreamscape than a classic crime novel, with the story wandering between the mean street of Hamburg, the mean streets of Glasgow, the blasted heath of Rannoch Moor and the interiors of the messed up minds of the main characters, all still trying to process the tragic events which occurred in Hotel Cartagena. This book brings the reader much closer to Chastity than we have ever been before, I left the book feeling like I had crawled into her skin and was watching things unfold from behind her eyes, and it was sometimes a bizarre place to be.
Anyone who has read any of the previous Chastity Riley novels will know that they are not your run of the mill crime novel, but Simone has taken the story telling to a completely different place in this book. The crime that the police in Hamburg are trying to solve is a mere footnote in the book, and afterthought, a distraction from the real meat of the story, which is the fallout that are all feeling personally after the horror that unfolded in the last book and the fact that Stepanovic treats the investigation as such is a clear indicator of what is important to all of these people now. Riley has gone a step further and removed herself from Hamburg and her old life altogether to travel to Scotland in search of family history. Both running away, and running towards, her story here is one of soul-searching. She is looking for a place in the world, now that everything she had in Hamburg seems to be gone.
Anyone looking for a straight forward crime investigation is looking in the wrong place and I think, if you aren’t familiar with the previous Chastity Riley books, this wouldn’t be the ideal place to start. Go back, at least one novel, and catch up on previous events. It will help make sense of what is going on here and be immensely rewarding in its own right. For those of you who have read the previous books, be prepared to be confronted by a completely different novel, and a different view of all of the characters you believe you’ve come to know. They are all finding surprising ways to process their grief, none more so than Chastity herself. All of her usual BS-free, no-nonsense acerbic personality is here, but we see more of her underbelly, more of her inner softness and vulnerability and it is enlightening. There is a blurring of reality and fantasy throughout, the reader, along with the character, finds it hard to tell what is true and what is imagination. There is confusion, pain, understanding, realisation and a letting go. It’s melancholy and life-affirming in equal parts, and I found the whole thing painful and very moving.
Simone Buchholz writing continues to be brutal, honest, startling, fearless and utter unique and her books leap out from the literary landscape in a way that demands they be given attention. Once you’ve read one, you’ll never forget her voice and you’ll be addicted to the rush immediately. A year is too long to wait between hits. I feel the need now to go back to the beginning and ride the whole rollercoaster from beginning to end, although I’m unsure if my nerves could take the force of the full blast in one sitting. I don’t know where she will go with this character next, that’s part of the appeal of the books, but I’m here for the hit.
River Clyde is out now as an ebook and will be published in paperback on 17 March and you can buy your copy here.
Please make sure you check out some of the other blogs taking part in the blog tour:
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. The critically acclaimed Beton Rouge, Mexico Street and Hotel Cartagena all followed in the Chastity Riley series, with River Clyde out in 2022. She lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her husband and son.
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