Falkenberg, Sweden. The mutilated body of talented young jewellery designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a snow-swept marina.
Hampstead Heath, London. The body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s.
Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again.
Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald?
Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French true crime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light.
Plumbing the darkness and the horrific evidence of the nature of evil, Block 46 is a multi-layered, sweeping and evocative thriller that heralds a stunning new voice in French Noir.”
I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Block 46 blog tour today. Block 46 is written by French author Johana Gustawsson and was published in the UK in paperback format on 15th May 2017 by Orenda Books.
This is one of those books which has been receiving a lot of attention from fellow bloggers and reviewers. And rightly so! Block 46 had a very different feel to many of the other crime thrillers I’ve read of late. The fact the novel is based on true events brings a brand new level of horror and makes the reading experience that little bit more uncomfortable. Just as it should be when we’re talking about the atrocities committed by the Nazi’s in the Second World War. You may have read reviews where the fairly graphic violence is highlighted. Well, yes, it is violent. But Gustawsson couldn’t have told this story any other way. To have played certain scenes down would have removed the the impact of Block 46. This is a book where graphic violence is necessary and sadly, true to the story.
I found Alexis Castells and Emily Roy a very different but fascinating investigative team. Castells is a true crime writer, originally from France but now based in London. Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police. I really liked Emily Roy. She’s precise, straight to the point and the investigation receives 100% of her attention. There was one point, towards the end of the book, where I realised exactly how much I liked Emily Roy. It was a real heartwarming moment which I hope the author expands on in the second book (there has to be a back story there, surely!).
Would I recommend this book? I would, but prepare yourself for what is a very tough read in places. It’s a dark, unsettling, harrowing novel that will make you stop and think. It certainly had that effect on me. I loved the twist and would read another novel by Gustawsson in a heartbeat.
Four out of five stars.
I chose to read and review an ARC of Block 46. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.
Born in 1978 in Marseille and with a degree in political science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French press and television. She married a Swede and now lives in London. She was the co-author of a bestseller, On se retrouvera, published by Fayard Noir in France, whose television adaptation drew over 7 million viewers in June 2015. She is working on the next book in the Roy & Castells series.