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Simone Buchholz
The criminalist

Simone Buchholz is best known for her detective novels about prosecutor Chastity Riley.
Simone Buchholz is best known for her detective novels about prosecutor Chastity Riley. | Photo (detail): picture alliance/Christian Charisius/dpa

Author Simone Buchholz has been honoured for her crime novel series about public prosecutor Chastity Riley, including with the 2019 German Crime Fiction Award. She also writes about love and sexuality.

By Eleonore von Bothmer

Public prosecutor Chastity Riley has investigated a new case in Hamburg’s red-light district almost every year since 2008, firmly establishing her creator, Simone Buchholz, as a bright light on the German crime fiction scene. Buchholz initially studied philosophy and literature before enrolling in the Henri Nannen Schule to become a journalist. The first Riley novel Revolverherz(Revolver Heart) has been followed by seven more instalments in the series, along with some short stories about the same characters featured in the books. Buchholz’s internationally acclaimed detective novels have won numerous awards. The author not only travels around Germany; she also holds readings in Great Britain, Denmark, the Czech Republic and other countries. Published by Suhrkamp, her novels Blaue Nacht (Blue Night) and Mexikoring (Mexico Ring) received the 2017 and 2019 German Crime Fiction Award.  

The unique Buchholz sound

German Crime Fiction Award juror Sonja Hartl described the defining quality of Buchholz’s writing as, “such a unique style, the Buchholz sound so to speak. Astonishingly short sentences and captivating images that are initially a bit confusing until you realise it all fits together perfectly.” Another juror, Jutta Günther from Radio Bremen, described the prize-winner’s work as, “shaped by a deep understanding of human behaviour. Buchholz allows readers to experience how her heroine Chastity Riley runs up against her own limitations and overcomes them again and again.”

“He comes, she comes”

Along with crime fiction, Buchholz writes columns on the relationship between men and women and has published books on love and sexuality. Her first book on the subject published in 2003 was Der Trick ist zu atmen: Erste Liebe, erster Sex und wie du beides überlebst (The secret is to breathe: your first love, your first time and how to survive both), followed by Er kommt, sie kommt. Das Orgasmus Buch (He comes, she comes: the orgasm book) in 2007. In response to winning the German Crime Fiction Award, Buchholz said, “I am happy for every woman who gets to take a trophy like this home. It raises women’s visibility, in society too. The second you hold a thing like this your hand, people can suddenly hear your voice better.”

In her own words

“I have the feeling a lot gets drowned out in all the drivel that surrounds us. If you want people to listen, you have to write in a way that trips them up as they read.” (Source: Die Zeit)