Over the course of the next year, NB Magazine will be presenting six in-depth interviews with modern crime writers about their radical and contemporary writing. First up is German author Simone Buchholz, who currently has two novels published in English, Blue Night (2018) and Beton Rouge (2019). They confirm that Buchholz is an exceptional writer of noir fiction set in her home city of Hamburg. She has twice received the prestigious German Crime Award, most recently for Mexicoring, which we will get to see in English next year. Her protagonist, Chastity Riley, is one of the most fascinating characters in modern crime fiction.

The series will focus on modern noir set in Europe and Britain influenced by the spirit of the American hard-boiled era (Chandler, McCoy, Hammett, Ross MacDonald) and the legacy of the neo-polar/noir (Jean-Claude Izzo) and the greats like Simenon, Durrenmatt, Parker et al. The new noir masters have this, by either osmosis or design, in their bloodstream. Yet, crucially, they add something new and fresh of their own.

The interviews will seek to discover what’s behind the modern portrait of perpetrator and victim in crime fiction: psychology, morality and society. They will look at the style of delivery: cynicism, fatalism, moral ambiguity, realism, dialogue, concision, black humour and poetic balance. Europe has been driving the art of crime writing forward with a more overt social context, psychological insight and a relevant setting.

There are two things to bare in mind about definitions. First, let’s face it, everything from domestic drama to cosy crime is being called noir these days as if that’s an acceptable term for all crime – it isn’t. That kind of dilution of the term does the art of noir no favours. Domestic, court room, historical, etc., can all be noir, but more often than not they aren’t. Second, we are stretching noir with so many sub-genres: neo-noir, eco-noir, nuclear-noir, disco-noir (OK, I made that last one up, but the others are all descriptions lifted from books I’ve seen recently). Maybe we are overdoing it a bit? If you want to know the kinds of writers we will feature in the series, there are a few relevant reviews detailed below. There are certain things that these crime writers nail down, not just the occasional coffin lid. But, no spoilers as to who’s to come, for now look forward to learning what Simone Buchholz has to say about her novels.

The Hoods Take Over by Ovid Demaris – Brilliantly nihilistic and cynical, written in 1957 but still with the power to shock.

Metropolis by Philip Kerr – How intact would your sense of morality be if you had to survive the Nazis and the war?

Kossuth Square by Adam Lebor – A worldview explored, each corrupt state and corrupt act has wider implications.

The Bothy by Trevor Mark Thomas – Pinteresque nightmare of violence and possible redemption.

The Second Rider by Alex Beer – Does for Vienna what Kutscher and Kerr do for Berlin.

The Elegant Lie by Sam Eastland – Characters constantly faced with moral dilemmas in post-war Germany.

Any Means Necessary by Jenny Rogneby – A nihilistic cop who doesn’t understand what boundaries are for.

The Choke by Sofie Laguna – A coming of age tale with a dark heart.

Paul Burke
May 2019

Paul’s interview with Simone Buchholz will be published on nbmagazine.co.uk on 17th May.