Night after night, cars are set alight across the German city of Hamburg, with no obvious pattern, no explanation and no suspect. Until, one night, on Mexico Street, a ghetto of high-rise blocks in the north of the city, a Fiat is torched. Only this car isn’t empty. The body of Nouri Saroukhan – prodigal son of the Bremen clan – is soon discovered, and the case becomes a homicide.
Public prosecutor Chastity Riley is handed the investigation, which takes her deep into a criminal underground that snakes beneath the whole of Germany. And as details of Nouri’s background, including an illicit relationship with the mysterious Aliza, emerge, it becomes clear that these are not random attacks, and there are more on the cards…
I thoroughly enjoy the Chastity Riley books (‘Mexico Street’ is book three), they are a little different from your average crime tale, they are quirky, smart and Riley makes for an intriguing narrator. She is back with a tricky case that involves delving into the family intricacies of a criminal clan in Germany.
Reading this was like catching up with an old friend. Riley is doing what she does best, seeking the truth. Along with some heavy smoking and drinking on the side, and there’s nothing wrong with that! We also get to see the return of some old faces, most notably Ivo Stepanovic. There is just something between these two that can’t be denied and the chemistry fizzles. However there is a slight bump in ‘Mexico Street’ when an old flame of Riley’s becomes re-lit. I am convinced Ivo and Riley will find a way, eventually. In the mean time I will enjoy the chemistry, banter and near misses! I also loved seeing the return of The Blue Night Gang who are Riley’s support network. I would have like to have seen more of them but that’s me just being a little bit greedy.
Sitting next to nice, is the nasty and there are some truly awful characters in this book. The case involves a clan of incredibly narrow minded men, they view their wives and daughters as property to be sold and bartered. Pretty much every single thing this clan did, made my blood boil. And it seems fitting that this review will be posted during International Women’s Month. We quite often think the world has come a long way, but in reality it hasn’t. Simone Buchholz has illustrated that perfectly with the Saoukhan clan.
For most of the book, Riley is our narrator, but her voice is interspersed with the background story of the ill-fated Nouri and Aliza. I really enjoyed these interludes, it really helps bring our victim to life and makes the opening of the book, with the discovery of his body, seem even more tragic. It was quite wonderful to see Nouri and Aliza’s relationship grow amid the devastation of their families.
‘Mexico Street’ is another cracking Chastity Riley read. Punchy, witty writing, superb characters and a terrific sense of place, are all elements that come together to create a fresh and compelling crime read.
‘Mexico Street’ is out now in paperback published by Orenda Books. With thanks to Orenda for my reading copy and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for my blog tour invite. Make sure you visit the other stops.