It was with a bit of trepidation that I agreed to be part of the blog tour for the second novel by Johana Gustawsson. I had read Block 46 and it was one of my stand out novels of the year, so there is always the worry that the second one won’t be quite so good. However I needn’t have been concerned, Keeper is a stunning novel from an author being hailed as the ‘Queen of French Noir’.
In Keeper we again meet Profiler Emily Roy and true crime writer Alexis Castells. An actor has been abducted from her home in a case similar to the Tower Hamlets murders ten years previously. Over in Sweden a body has been found, again identical to those in Tower Hamlets. However the perpetrator of those crimes is in prison. Have they got the wrong man locked up or is there a copycat? Alongside this is the Whitechapel of 1888. Jack the Ripper is at large and women are running scared.
This was another superb read that was absolutely gripping. From the outset you are drawn into a dark and disturbing world both of modern day serial killings and Victorian fear. I have always been fascinated by the Jack the Ripper story, the phantom killer whose crimes were never solved. Therefore I was utterly fascinated by these chapters. The writing is such that the sights and sounds of Victorian England completely engulf you and you feel like you are living through the filth and stench. Yet it seamlessly switches into modern day terror without any interruption to the fast flow of story.
I really like the characters in this novel, and although I still find Alexis a little annoying as a pair they have a great dynamic. One of the things I also think works well within this is the fact that there are lots of peripheral characters including parents, partners, other officers, yet for me they all had a place and were easy to keep track of. I love the fact that despite the majority of the book being very dark and seedy there were moments of humour that really lift the story.
I cannot recommend this novel enough. It is both a fascinating story linking past and present, and a thought provoking read that will stay with you long after you have finished it.
Make sure you visit the other stops on the blog tour, and get your copy here:
I was delighted to be asked to be part of the blog tour for Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson.
Block 46 is a novel that travels not only between cities but also time. In modern day London we meet true crime writer Alexis Castells. When her friend jewelry designer Linnea doesn’t show up for the launch of her new collection, at first it is thought she has just missed her flight back. However is not long before her body is discovered mutilated in Sweden, and links are soon made with a similar murder of a young boy in London. Alexis teams up with profiler Emily Roy to try and catch the perpetrator. Alongside this we are introduced to Erich Ebner in 1944. He has been transported to the Buchenwald Concentration Camp and is trying to survive the horrors of the Holocaust as best he can.
I thought this was an incredible debut novel that was absolutely gripping yet disturbing at the same time. Block 46 has been translated from French and is written with very short chapters. This is a style I personally like, and it suited the story.. Some of the scenes within the Camp were so disturbing that actually longer chapters would have been hard to deal with. Initially I did find that the story seemed a bit slow, although I suspect this was due to the chapters set in Buchenwald being so completely intense that they made the modern tale a little flat. This didn’t stay the case for long though and once I got into it the story was utterly compelling.
The characters were interesting, and I very much liked the rather standoffish and rude but brilliant Emily Roy. Alexis I found a bit more annoying, but still very readable and I felt the pair together made a good duo. This is a book full of twists that kept me reading, although I have to say that I did guess one person would be involved right from the start. However this is no way ruined the book, as how they were involved was a complete shock.
Block 46 did take me longer to read than is normal for me, yet I think this was because actually unusually for a speed reader like me, I was compelled to read every word. It is a very dark and disturbing book, so not for the fainthearted. Yet the story has a certain flare about it that makes you think, rather than just recoil. I would highly recommend this novel and think it is definitely one of the best I’ve read so far this year.
Thank you to the publishers Orenda Books and Anne Cater for my copy of the book.