It is Tuesday today, and in the spirit of celebrating all things Orenda during #Orentober month as well as celebrating translated fiction in general I will be sharing a previously published review of an Orenda translated favorite. As someone who has studied the art of translation during Uni (and even dedicated her thesis to translation), I have learned first hand just how difficult it is to produce a good quality translation… So this is me putting the Orenda translators as well as the authors in the spotlight. I’ve been lucky to read quite a few wonderful pieces of translated fiction so far this year, and today the spotlight goes to Mexico Street by Simone Buchholz; translated by Rachel Ward. This series has such an unique and unconventional writing style, and while it might take some time getting used to, once you do you will find yourself utterly addicted. Below I will reshare my review as posted during the blog tour back in March in case you want to know more.
Title: Mexico Street
(Chas Riley #8)
Author: Simone Buchholz
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 10th 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: March 8th 2020
(Originally published in German: ‘Mexikoring’)
“We’re like a window that life has kept jumping through in recent years, and with every jump we’ve gone flying through space like shards of glass, but, because the shards know where they belong, they piece themselves back together, bit by bit, every time.”
*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***
I know that I’ve only recently started reading this series, but the Chas Riley books have been on my radar for quite some time now. I’m not sure why it took me this long to finally pick up the books, but I’m definitely kicking myself now as I’ve found a new favorite series. While it is true that it took me some time to warm up to both the writing and the characters in Blue Night, as soon as I did I was completely hooked. Blue Night ended on a high note for me and I was hooked once again as soon as I started Beton Rouge, which turned out to be an excellent ride. It’s easy to say that I had high hopes for Mexico Street after that, and I might just have found a new favorite!
There are a lot of things that turn this series into something special. Before I start, I do have to state first that this is actually book number eight that has been published in the original German series, but (only) book number three that has been translated into English. Due to the missing first five books, we might miss some background at times… In the case of Mexico Street the most pressing one would probably be the history behind Inceman and what happened to him, but we do get a few hints and in the end the lack of information didn’t bother me too much. And while Blue Night might be more difficult to get into without that background information, both Beton Rouge and Mexico Street can technically be read as stand-alones without too many issues.
On to my Mexico Street rambles… The first thing I love of this book and the series in general is the writing style. Simone Buchholz has an unique, snappy and snarky writing style laced with short sentences, a dark and sarcastic kind of humor and a style that goes between blunt and lyrical. Her writing style is highly recognizable and as soon as I read the first page I knew I was dealing with another authentic piece of Simone Buchholz writing again.Trust me, I’ve become addicted to it! I like how there isn’t just one style nor singular POV, seemingly using chaos and unpredictability to weave together the chapters and story. Flashbacks, different POVs, short sentences, breathtaking and almost lyrical sentences with a deeper meaning, humor, sarcasm… It sounds like a terrible mess, but it’s a most wonderful mess and if you ‘get’ the writing style you will find yourself hopelessly in love.
Another forte of this series lies without doubt with the main characters. The books have a colorful and diverse cast of characters who will have no problems winning over your heart… Chastity is the star of the show of course, and I love her in all her cigarette, beer, antisocial and disheveled glory. Quite a few of the characters we were introduced to in the previous books make their appearance once again in Mexico Street, although the main focus is on Stepanovic (and Calabretta) this time around. We see less of some of the other characters and I did miss them, although in a way it’s no surprise after how things ended in Beton Rouge to be honest… But I did end up enjoying the new balance as well as the introduction of Inceman as a character.
I also loved both the plot and the setting in Hamburg and Bremen. Having had the chance to get to know both cities briefly from a tourist point of view, it really enhanced the reading experience for me as I could actually imagine the characters in a real setting. I loved the descriptions of both cities and they set the perfect atmosphere for this story. The plot itself is intriguing and gives us plenty of action as well as insight in a foreign culture and just how different the rules for those families are. We get (organized) crime, we get death, we get an investigation angle, we get banter and we even get a forbidden love story… All wrapped up nicely into one brilliant story. How’s that for an excellent deal?!
As you might have guessed already, I loved my time with Mexico Street and I’m now officially a huge fan of Simone Buchholz‘ writing style. Before I sign off, a huge round of applause to Rachel Ward for the impecable translation, which makes it possible for us to get to know Chas Riley and the rest of the characters! Especially since my German is pretty rusty haha. If you enjoy noir, a good crime thriller and love an unique and unconventional writing style as well as cast of characters, you should definitely try this series.