Lost in translation – Beton Rouge Review

Beton Rouge is going to be one of those books that is going to be quite difficult for me to review because the issues I have with the book aren’t easy to lay blame to. What I mean by this is this: Beton Rouge is a book originally written in German, and I have read the translated English version. Therefore I have trepidation praising or criticising elements of it because I have no idea if the credit or fault lies with the author or the translator.

I have to admit that I did struggle with this book, and it’s a shame because I don’t think I was supposed to.

Beton Rouge is the second book in the Chastity Riley series, the first being Blue Night, but having not read Blue Night before and not being utterly befuddled by Chastity’s character or relationships I’m confident in saying that you don’t need to have read Blue Night in order to appreciate Beton Rouge.

But with that being said, I found it really difficult to appreciate Beton Rouge. We spend a lot of the book with Chastity and her psyche, which is sharp, sarcastic and dry. Usually I can get right on board with that sort of thing. Chastity is also a walking noir stereotype – again, usually something I can get on board with. But for some reason everything about this fell flat for me.

” “The doctor said on the phone that both of them had injuries caused most likely by rusty tools and red-hot objects.” “

beton rouge cover hold

I hate to admit it, I really do, but I was bored. When I wasn’t bored I was annoyed and irritated and all of the other times I was thinking about other books I wanted to read. It’s beyond frustrating because Beton Rouge has a lot of things I usually love; a sarcastic protagonist, noir elements, a dark story, short, punchy chapters…but the less than 200 pages felt endless to me.

However I don’t want my review to necessarily make up your mind on this book. The author of Beton Rouge has won awards in Germany for the previous book (Blue Night), which makes me wonder if something has been lost in translation for me.

Rachel Ward is the translator for both books, but the German reviews I’ve read are incredibly positive. This makes me think a couple of things; 1) The translator is not skilled enough to handle the nuances and the writing style of the author 2) Regardless of the strength of the translator, the German version will always be superior – after all, it won awards.

“I look at him, and we both know that I’ve got to go and, behind our backs, Death is rubbing his hands.”

My German language skills are probably not strong enough for something of this calibre (I can handle things like The Hunger Games – just about) but when I get better at German, it’d be interesting to go back to this in the original German and see if my feelings have changed.

Therefore, I feel bad giving Beton Rouge a negative review, but for the English translation I have to. But I do not want to blacklist this book, or the author. If you’re a native/advanced German speaker I’d recommend getting hold of the original text and giving that a try, because all of the elements of a great book are there, but perhaps just not in the English version.

” “I’m like one of those dogs tied up outside the supermarket. Do you know why they always look so sad?” I shake my head. “Because dogs have no sense of time. They think everything’s forever. They think that they’ll have to spend the rest of their lives sitting outside the supermarket.” “


Thanks to Orenda for partnering with me and for providing and advanced copy for review.

Beton Rouge front cover

On a warm September morning, an unconscious man is found in a cage at the entrance to the offices of one of the biggest German magazines. Closer inspection shows he is a manager of the company, and he’s been tortured. Three days later, another manager appears in similar circumstances. Chastity Riley and her new colleague Ivo Stepanovic are tasked with uncovering the truth behind the attacks, an investigation that goes far beyond the revenge they first suspect … to the dubious past shared by both victims. Travelling to the south of Germany, they step into the hothouse world of boarding schools, where secrets are currency, and monsters are bred … monsters who will stop at nothing to protect themselves. A smart, dark, probing thriller, full of all the hard-boiled poetry and acerbic wit of the very best noir, Beton Rouge is both a classic whodunit and a scintillating expose of society, by one of the most exciting names in crime fiction

Beton Rouge blog tour


Do you want to solve a crime? You can buy Beton Rouge here with FREE worldwide delivery!

[PLEASE NOTE]: I was not paid or sponsored to write this review. I did receive a copy in exchange for a review, but this did not have any effect on my review – all the opinions are honest and my own.


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