Hotel Cartagena (A Chastity Riley novel) by Simone Buchholz – Blog Tour

Thanks to Ann Cater of Random Things Tours for organising this blog tour and to Simone Buchholz and Orenda Books for a copy of this book in exchange for a honest and unbiased review.


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 owner, who is being targeted by a 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. 

My Thoughts

I adored Mexico Street from the same series so I jumped at the chance to join the tour for Hotel Cartegena and I was not disappointed. Hotel Cartegena does work well as a stand alone novel however there is a lot of character development across the other 3 novels and it does enhance the enjoyment if read in order.

This is the second Simone Buchholz novel I have read and she has such a distinct and unique style of writing crime.  As soon as I began reading Hotel Cartegena I felt as though I’d be dropped right in the middle of the action.  There’s no length build up of tension or introductions of the scene.  Just Bam! Straight in the throes of action and it works beautifully.

At the beginning it feels as though everything is moving so fast.  Short chapters and cutting straight to the chase made this book one hell of a ride and once you start, it’s really hard to stop (including leaving you sitting in a cold bath cos you’ve forgotten to get out).

I loved the dual timeline and how Buchholz makes sure her ‘bad guys’ are seen as human and real.  Knowing what drives them and where they are coming from makes it difficult to hate them in a way you may do with a more traditional crime story.  By humanising them it makes you question morals, loyalty and actually feel something beyond loathing – almost empathy and understanding.  It’s such a clever way to write crime.

Chastity is an absolute hero.  She knows she has flaws and issues and she owns them.  I love how she is so unapologetically her and refuses to be any other way.  She’s a ballsy character but without the manipulative and bitchy streak often associated with that trait.  I love how loyal she is to her team (family) and in turn – how protective they are over her, especially in Hotel Cartegena when things begin to look a little worrying. 

The setting is perfectly dark but somehow attractive.  It’s as though Buchholz has described the sort of places you wouldn’t go alone at night, the hidden corners where shady deals are done, and also captured a strange beauty in these places too.  The harbour is simultaneously eerie yet calm, offset by the stylish hotel and bar.  It feels as though a ‘gangster’ movie has been overlaid onto a more modern ‘chick-flick’.   

Once again, Rachel Ward’s translation is seamless and so well done but without loosing the feel of the novel.  Even when reading in English, the novel retained it’s original feel. 

Short snappy chapters, multi-perspectives, characters that are easy to invest in and an atmospheric setting makes Hotel Cartegena a superb and nail-biting crime novel.  Highly recommended!     

Author Bio – Simone Buchholz

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

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.


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