Simone Buchholz

Blue Night - Crime Novel

Chastity Riley #1
(German title: Blaue Nacht)
ca. 280 pages
Simone Buchholz
Foto: Simone Buchholz
© Gerald von Foris

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. She has been writing for women’s magazines for more than 15 years, but has always written about football, the economy, and journeys to foreign countries as well. In 2008, she published her first crime novel, Revolverherz, which was subsequently translated into French and Italian. Blue Night, the first instalment of the Chastity-Riley-series to be published by Suhrkamp Verlag, was #1 on the KrimiZEIT-Best of Crime List for months. In 2016, Simone Buchholz was awarded the Crime Cologne Award as well as the 2nd Place of the German Crime Fiction Prize for Blue Night. Mexico Ring (2018) won the German Crime Fiction Prize 2019. Together with her husband and their son, Simone Buchholz lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg.

Sold to

English world rights (Orenda), France (L'Atalante), Italy (Emons), Denmark (Dreamlitt), Finnland (Huippu)

Domestic Rights Sales: German Audiobook (Hörbuch Hamburg)

German Crime Fiction Prize 2017

Winner of the Crime Cologne-Award 2016

Tough. Independent. Offbeat. Chastity Riley is back.

The world‘s deadliest drug. Old enemies that resurface. But Chastity Riley remains on top of it all.


»Just for the record: This is an extremely strange night. And strange nights are always a harbinger.«


Due to an unfortunate incident where she convicted a superior of corruption and shot a gangster all at once, district attorney Chastity Riley has been transferred to victim protection and thus – officially been put in the backwater. Her private life doesn’t offer any consolation either: her formerly favourite colleague sets out, what with his midlife crisis and all, on his own personal vendetta, while her most faithful ally in the police department descends into the depths of his broken heart.

The first victim she is sent to is a man without a name and who was admitted to the Marien Hospital in Hamburg unconscious and badly beaten up. It’s evident that this was a professional job – a classic warning shot. Riley soon develops a connection to the man and slowly wins his trust, but who he is and what happened to him remains a mystery. Finally, after two or eight beers on the hospital ward, he reveals a lead that takes Riley to Leipzig. There, she finds not only an ally as well as far too many drugs. When she realizes who is behind all this, she sees a chance to finally catch one of the really big fish…


From the jury’s statement on the Crime Cologne Award:
»We were looking for a crime novel that is multi-layered, literary, surprising, and, naturally, filled with suspense. […] Blue Night, Simone Buchholz’s sixth novel about the chain-smoking and Astra-drinking district attorney Chastity Riley from Sankt Pauli, Hamburg, with the well-concealed scars on her soul, literally shines among the other – definitely also fantastic – crime novels published last year. And this is, first and foremost, due to Buchholz’s style, which gives the novel a completely unique, fresh, distinctive sound.
The great skill of the author, a trained journalist, lies in her ability to write sentences that come across as casual, very dry, slapped together and a little bit broken, just like Sankt Pauli, in whose backyards and backrooms everything is a little bit more grimy, more lawless and at the same time more lost than elsewhere. […] Nothing, no scene, no sentence, not a single word is superfluous in this book, exceptionally smart and precisely composed. Buchholz is to the point, hints, leaves space. A few sentences are enough for her to conjure up the dim Sankt Pauli as convincingly and densely as she does the inner life of her always edgy protagonists. Witty and with subtle humour, she delves into their heads, hearts, life lies, and dreams and in doing so, vests them with profound humanity […].
There’s a lot of drinking, smoking, and swearing in this crime novel. The subject matter is though, as is the tone. But still, all of the protagonists in Blue Night are searching, falling, loving. The perpetrators just as much as the victims. And that is why you get so close to them. […]
Simone Buchholz finds the perfect balance between coolness, humour, and melancholy. Tongue-in-cheek and charming, seemingly en passant, she plays with the – traditionally male – hardboiled tradition.
And in that way, Blue Night is also a novel with an echo: as soon as you’ve reached the end, you feel the urge to read more, learn more about its heroine, and in doing so, sniff a bit more of Hamburg’s salty breeze.« Gisa Klönne, 18.09.2016


»Blue Night has a unique style: fragmented, flitting from subject to subject. It flirts with the avant-garde. […] This is a punk rock album translated into a hard-bitten tale of low life scum and a lone officer. Fierce enough to stab the heart.« Jeff Noon, The Spectator

»Blue Night has great sparkling energy, humour and stylistic verve [...] and the story itself is gripping and pacey. Simone Buchholz’s homage to Raymond Chandler and Jonny Cash is affectionate and deliberate. Then there’s the interplay of author and translator, like musicians in the same band [...] creating an all-female tour de force.« Rosie Goldsmith, European Literature Network

»By turns lyrical and pithy, this adventure set in the melting pot of contemporary Hamburg has a plot and a sensibility that both owe something to mind-altering substances. Disgraced state prosecutor Chastity Riley chases round the dive bars of the port city pursuing and being pursued by a beguiling cast of cops, criminals and chums, delivering scalding one-liners as she goes. Lots of fun.« Times Crime Club

»Blue Night is recommended as a book for reviewers, booksellers, literary festivals and readers at NBG choice.« New German Books

»Buchholz quickly establishes her characters and their individual voices: the ex-jailbird bar owner, a broken hearted cop, an ex-cop with a vengeful eye set on the local crime boss (now ›retired‹ and untouchable) who killed his girlfriend years ago, and an injured Austrian stoic with a missing finger. But it goes without saying that the predominant voice in the story is that of unorthodox, street-savvy and very likeable Chastity. Written with a sense of place, a fresh voice, and a fast pace. Absolutely recommended.« Euro Crime

»4/5 stars [...] Her edgy style is reminiscent of Sara Paretsky […]. The backstory behind both robbers and cops is a fun, rewarding read.« Suvi Ahola, Helsingin Sanomat

»If Philip Marlowe and Bernie Gunther got together in a Hamburg speakeasy and had a literary love child, then that might just explain Chastity Riley – Simone Buchholz’s tough, acerbic and utterly engaging central character.« William Ryan, author of The Constant Soldier

»A must-read, stylish and highly original take on the detective novel, written with great skill and popping with great characters.« Judith O’Reilly, author of Killing State

»Simone Buchholz’s witty and original Blue Night, beautifully translated by Rachel Ward, introduces us to maverick state prosecutor Chas Riley. Assigned the case of a badly beaten man, she embarks on a gripping investigation that’s also a moving love letter to Hamburg and the bonds of friendship.« Dr Kat Hall, author of Der Krimi: Crime Fiction in German

»Not a word out of place – memorable characters – an absolute treat!« Michael J. Malone, author of A Suitable Lie

»Explosive writing, larger-than-life characters, a killer mystery … Loved it!« LV Hay, author of The Other Twin

»Chastity Riley belongs amongst Germany’s most complex crime heroines: a lone wolf who looks into the chasms of human society.« Brigitte

»a haze of delightfully delicate, delightfully affectionate stories [centered in St. Pauli].« Elmar Krekeler, Die Welt

»Cheeky, funny and a little melancholic. Simone’s best so far.« DIE ZEIT

»The nonchalant, concise tone that’s never too chummy nor too flippant or fixated on punchlines, makes the story charming and interesting« Peter Körte, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

»Truly great story […] Tough cosmopolitan crime novel with warmth and humour.« Volker Albers, Hamburger Abendblatt

»strong dialogues, wit and tension; terrific, refreshing entertainment. Very charming!« WDR

»refreshingly different […] bristling with surprises« Michael Hoch, Krimi-Couch.de

»What’s especially pleasant is the fresh, cheeky tone of the novel that remains free of clichés.« Sylvia Staude, Frankfurter Rundschau

»A page-turner set in Hamburg, written with great skill: Germany’s most hard-drinking district attorney is chasing the bad guys again.[...] Simone Buchholz just writes very, very well, all the while sure of her milieu, atmospherically confident and full of empathy for her characters.« kgr, BÜCHERmagazin

»A smashing thriller […] simply recommended.« ReiseTravel

»Buchholz creates her protagonists with greatest affection [and] attention to detail. [She] writes her stories in a delightfully offhand, snappy style.« Rudolf Trinks, Freie Presse

»a must-read « Marcus Müntefering, culturmag.de

Crime bloggers’ opinions on Blue Night:
»Between the covers […] is a rich, tightly woven plot that’s brimming with intrigue and with plenty of back story woven in, compelling characters and a great approach to narrative.« Mumbling About

»Simone Buchholz pulls no punches in this the first in an exciting series. This is a stunning new novel that really ends up exploding in your face. If this is how you love your thriller, then Blue Night is one for you. […]. I dare you to put this one down!« The Last Word Book Review

»Buchholz gives us a declaration of love for all the grime of a city of contrasts. Dripping with local colour, soaked in beer and infused with cigarette smoke, this is not your typical police procedural.« Katy Derbyshire, Love German Books

»Simply an excellent slice of atmospheric crime. Give me more, soon!« Blue Book Balloon

»Blue Night is a deliciously dark novel with layers upon layers of mystery, not all uncovered by the end of it. Buchholz leaves her readers intrigued to know more about these characters. Whatever case Chastity Riley takes up next, if indeed she does, I’ll be very keen to uncover it with her.« Segnalibro

»There is an abundance of atmosphere; the streets of Hamburg leap off the pages and I was dying to be in the Blue Night drinking vodka at the bar. Words are used sparingly and to great effect creating a beautiful noir novel which, since I finished reading it, hasn’t been far from my thoughts making other books pale into insignificance. Wonderful.« Beverley Has Read

»I found that Blue Night was a book of two halves, the first half is a slow burn whereby Buchholz is building up the story, the mystery around the man in hospital and Chasity starting to build the man’s trust. The second half then ramps up this pace to a fabulous ending. The pacing and the unfolding of the story within the first half of the book made it very difficult to put down however during the second half of the book I found I couldn’t read it fast enough!! A brilliant taste of German Noir« Have Books Will Read

»I love Buchholz’s writing style. Throughout [Blue Night] the language sparkles and seduces, drawing the reader in to the story. She has a wry wit and writes in short, fluid sentences overlaid with a descriptive text that makes you feel as if you are in the middle of the action [...] Part of the success of this crime thriller lies in the beautiful, almost poetic writing which contrasts well with the deadly subject matter [...] Blue Night is hard hitting Hamburg noir with a female protagonist you can’t help but like and respect. It is also a crime novel with a unique voice that delivers with style and panache. I want to read more of Chastity Reilly as soon as possible.« Live and Deadly

»It is quite a journey that Chastity Riley takes you on, down into the murky underworld of drug dealing and the East European mafia but she is such a feisty individual, quick witted and sharp, that you can’t help but like her [...] I found the descriptions of East Germany particularly striking, with the contrast of idyllic almost fairy tale fields and then abandoned, crumbling factories and long, dark valleys. For the most part, it is all greyness and seems desolate and lifeless. Which is the opposite of Chastity of course! She shines like a tough little diamond. Bring her on! German Noir brimming with wit and atmosphere.« Books, Life and Everything

»Chastity Riley is a very interesting character and her life is definitely not straightforward especially after being assigned to speak to a man in hospital who has been terribly tortured […] I found Blue Night to be a different and intriguing crime story and I will be interested in seeing what is in store for Chastity next. A solid start to a new crime series, four stars from me!« Rae Reads

»Buchholz has a refreshingly new provocative voice, and I have no doubt she will stand out amongst a sea of writers. She has a take no prisoners attitude when it comes to the validity and eccentricity of her characters, and her plot. Blue Night is to books what a shot of whiskey of is to the world of liquor. It takes your breath away and then it burns until a warmth settles into the pit of your stomach. That’s the kind of mark and statement Buchholz is making.« Cheryll M M’s Book Blog

»For starters, this is straight up one of the most intriguing books I’ve had the pleasure of reading! […] I imagine it’s going to be a long time before I read something quite as extraordinary as Blue NightThe P Turners Book Blog

»The wonderful way that Buchholz brings her plot alive through gritty, punchy and thrilling writing makes this a gripping read that readers can race through and devour every last tantalising detail [...] I’m glad that this is just the first book in the series, there seems to be so much to Chastity, more than could ever be put into one book. She’s fiercely loyal to those she holds dear and always tries to be there for them, this coupled with her cynical attitude makes her such a brilliant creation. I’d definitely recommend checking this one out!« The Quiet Knitter

»I felt the places, I touched them, I saw them, I tasted them, I heard, I smelled them. The full experience. A train slowly making its way through the darkest place while giving you a hint of what you can get in full daylight [...] Simone Buchholz creates a routine-like atmosphere and then adds edges to widen the map, clear the fog, or on the contrary, reinforce it! [...] Get the book! The compelling atmosphere associated with the best flawed characters will make you crave for more.« Chocolate N Waffles


Simone Buchholz reads from Blue Night:

Other publications

River Clyde/River Clyde (2021)

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English world rights (Orenda)

Hotel Cartagena/Hotel Cartagena (2019)

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English world rights (Orenda), Finland (Huippu)

Mexikoring/Mexico Street (2018)

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English world rights (Orenda), France (L'Atalante), Denmark (Dreamlitt), Finland (Huippu)

Beton Rouge/Beton Rouge (2017)

Sold to:

English world rights (Orenda), France (L'Atalante), Italy (Emons), Denmark (Dreamlitt), Finland (Huippu)

Domestic Rights Sales: German Audiobook (Hörbuch Hamburg)