Hello and welcome to my stop of the Hotel Cartagena Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve become truly addicted to Simone Buchholz‘ writing after reading the previous three translated Chas Riley books, so of course I jumped at the chance to join the tour for her newest story! And it turned out to be another fantastic ride. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: Hotel Cartagena
(Chas Riley #9)

Author: Simone Buchholz
Translator: Rachel Ward
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 29th 2019
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: February 5th 2021
Pages: 189
(Originally published in German: ‘Hotel Cartagena’)

“He looks like an extinguished lighthouse. Dark and abandoned, and also slightly cold, but you can imagine what it was like when the light was still burning.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***


I only discovered Simone Buchholz‘ writing last year, but I’ve become truly addicted to her writing style and highly enjoyed her previous three translated Chas Riley books. Hotel Cartagena is already book number 9 of the original series, and the fourth book to be translated and published in English… And it without doubt lived up to expectations for me. Such an entertaining, unique and highly addictive thriller!

As I said before, Hotel Cartagena is actually book number nine in the original German series, but (only) book number four that has been translated into English. A big 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! Due to the missing first five books, we might miss some background at times… Although I have to say that in the case of Hotel Cartagena it is once again very easy to read the story as a stand-alone as well. Sure, you might be missing out on some of the dynamics between the different characters developed in the previous three books, but as there is a lot of focus on the present as well as Henning and his past, it is quite easy to place everyone.

There are a lot of elements that turn this series into something special. The first thing that stands out for me in Hotel Cartagena and this series in general is the writing style. Simone Buchholz has an unique, snappy and snarky writing style that switches between blunt and lyrical and combines short sentences with a dark and sarcastic kind of humor and lavish writing you want to read over and over again. Her writing style is highly recognizable and I knew I was reading another of her stories as soon as I read the first page… I like how there isn’t just one style nor singular POV; the story switches between different characters, writing styles, locations as well as the past and the present, and somehow manages to weave together a cohesive and fantastic story in the end.

The main characters have a lot to do with the success of this series. The books have a colorful and diverse cast of characters who somehow manage to steal your heart without even trying… Especially Chastity is something else, and I love her in all her cigarette, beer, antisocial and disheveled glory. Sure, we don’t see her as much in Hotel Cartagena as the main focus in more on the group of characters as a whole as well as Henning, but she still manages to add her little touch to the story. The cast in general is well balanced and I liked how everybody fitted in.

I loved both the plot itself and the setting in Hamburg and Cartagena. The first I had the chance to visit briefly as a tourist, and Cartagena is very close to my heart after having lived there for three months back in 2012… The descriptions of the setting really enhanced the reading experience for me as I could actually imagine the characters in the real setting. The descriptions helped setting the right atmosphere for this story, and especially the flashbacks to Henning’s past and the drugs world were fascinating. The plot itself is filled to the brim with action, intrigue and danger, and will keep you on your toes the whole time. Hotel Cartagena offers you a lot of different elements, plot twists and storylines in one; how’s that for an excellent deal?!

I guess it’s obvious that I really enjoyed my time with Hotel Cartagena, and I can highly recommend it if you enjoy noir, a good crime thriller and love an unique and unconventional writing style as well as cast of characters.


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. 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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