Blue Night by Simone Buchholz (Orenda Books)

Something that I’ve come to expect from an Orenda Books publication is that it will be unique in its own special way. Therefore, it’s always a very exciting prospect when I get Orenda book post and Blue Night by Simone Buchholz was no exception.

Blue Night is predominantly narrated by Chastity Riley, who has been transferred to the mundane witness protection team from the state prosecutor’s office after convicting one of her superiors. She is given the case of a man who is under police guard in hospital to try to work out what his story is and his involvement with the Albanian mafia kingpin who her friend is working hard to bring down.

Chastity Riley is a complex character, brilliantly depicted by Buchholz and her translator, Rachel Ward. She is troubled by her past, but determined in her approach to everything she does. She is by no means a reliable narrator and has a lot of secrets which enhances the reading experience by creating an air of mystery around the main character. Surrounded by equally mixed up characters, the reader has to rely on the evidence put forward to work out the truth, which is exactly what readers want from a crime novel.

The structure itself is quite strange, a common feature of Orenda novels, where there is the first person narrative from Chastity, interspersed with snippets of narrative from other characters from past and present, to add a further air of mystery. The plot itself is quite slow to start but it seeps into the readers psyche, urging them to read on.

The setting in Germany is also quite dark and gloomy, which further enhances the mystery somehow. It is by no means a cheery novel, although Chastity herself is quite witty at times. She is likeable, if not reliable, which makes the reader want her to succeed in working out the mystery. She is an incredibly deep character which will undoubtedly make for further interesting storylines, as it does feel that by the end of Blue Night, the reader only scratches the surface of Chastity Riley and that there is a lot more to learn.

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. The magic of Orenda Books strikes again!

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