#BookReview: Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson #BlogTour @JoGustawsson @OrendaBooks

BLOCK 46 COVER AW.indd

About the Book

Evil remembers…

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 truecrime 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.

My Thoughts

I was thrilled when I was offered the chance to take part in the blog tour for Block 46 as I’d already heard about it and was really keen to read it.

This book was far more harrowing than I was expecting, and it was definitely more brutal and graphic in some of its descriptions and yet it was impossible to put down. I wanted to know what was going to happen, whether the case was going to be resolved and what all of the present-day murders had to do with the Buchenwald death camp.

I loved that this story is told predominantly through the eyes of a criminal profiler, Emily Roy, and a true crime investigative writer, Alexis Castells, who is also caught up in the murder of her friend Linnea. It gave a different slant to a crime novel than if it were told from a detective’s perspective and I found it really refreshing and different.

Emily is a fascinating character, I was intrigued by her all the way through the book. She has a very focused manner at times that leads her off into her own world and yet she deals with suspects so well and so cleverly. I also liked Alexis – she has a great way of being able to step back and see the bigger picture and complements Emily so well. They both have a tragedy in their pasts, which was touched on in this book so I’m interested to know more about that, along with how it’s affected them and made them who they are. I’m so pleased that there is to be a second book as I definitely want to spend more time with these two characters.

The scenes at Buchenwald were the hardest to read – it is so stark and unflinching, and I wasn’t expecting to read about the brutalities to the degree they were described. I could feel the sheer terror emanating through the pages. There were moments were I had to stop reading to just take a breath, but then the writing was so good that I was drawn to pick the book back up almost straight away.

Block 46 kept me guessing right until the very end – I genuinely couldn’t figure out who the murderer was. I thought I was onto something with a link to Buchenwald but I still picked the wrong strand to follow. I love when a book has me guessing and suspecting nearly everyone but not able to work it out; it doesn’t happen often but this book got me! I was honestly holding my breath as this novel gathered pace and I couldn’t read the words fast enough – I simply had to know who, what and where! The end, when it came, made sense but it left me reeling. I was honestly incapable of doing anything for quite a while after turning the last page, my mind wouldn’t stop turning over what I’d read. I was disturbed and unsettled by it but you’re meant to be, the writing is so brilliant.

Block 46 is harrowing, unflinching and brutal; it’s also brilliant, gripping and completely and utterly unputdownable! I highly recommend ordering a copy of this incredible crime thriller right away! I can’t wait to see what Johana Gustawsson writes next, I’ll certainly be first in line to buy it.

Block 46 was translated by Maxim Jakubowski.
Block 46 is due to be published on 15th May and can be pre-ordered now.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the Author

Johana Photo

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.

 

You can follow the rest of the blog tour on the stops below:

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Review: Follow Me by Angela Clarke

Follow Me by Angela Clarke

Freddie is fed up with her life, she is trying hard to make it as a journalist but has spent three years writing for free and is desperate to find a way to get paid for her work. One day while working a shift at a coffee shop she spots an old friend, Nas, in amongst a group of people. Freddie finds a way to follow Nas and ends up in the middle of an horrific murder scene. Nas covers for Freddie but she ultimately gets found out, though when the murder appears to be linked to twitter Freddie ends up being hired by the police as a social media consultant.

The killer tweets as Apollyon. He tweets coded messages and initially only follows one person despite his follower count growing at an incredible rate. The murders were gruesome and made me feel really quite sick. Freddie’s shock at each of the crime scenes, and the terror she felt each time apollyon tweeted was tangible, there were times when I felt like I was right there with her and I could hardly breathe either.

I expected this book to be terrifying, I was actually a little scared to even start reading it if I’m being completely honest. I’ve been on social media for years, I’ve shared details of my life on there so the idea of a serial killer finding their next target on twitter sounds so scary. This novel was actually more creepy than terrifying but it really does get under your skin as the tension ramps up. It was very unsettling and unnerving and it does get more scary as it goes along. It’s cleverly written because you initially think this would never happen to you because you’re careful with what you tweet and then you begin to see how Apollyon is finding his victims and it’s insidious how the fear gets to you.

None of the characters in this novel were particularly likeable but I don’t think characters have to be likeable for a book to be great; it works really well in this novel because it causes you to become suspicious of everyone. I have to admit that I did develop a soft spot for Freddie over the course of the novel; it felt like she was so brash because it was her way of protecting herself and pushing people away but as a result she was often misunderstood, which then led to her being more brash. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I did guess who the murderer was before it was revealed but only a little while before, and even then I was doubting myself as there are so many red herrings and twists and turns that it’s impossible to be sure about who the killer is. I think I’d suspected just about ever person in this book by the end! I had to keep reminding myself to breath whilst reading the last few chapters, it was incredibly tense!

This is the such a good, contemporary psychological thriller and I highly recommend it. I rate this book 4 out of 5.

Follow Me is due to be published on 3rd December but can be pre-ordered now from Amazon.

I received this book from Avon via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Lost Girls by Angela Marsons

Lost Girls by Angela Marsons

This is the first book I’ve read by Angela Marsons but it absolutely won’t be the last, I’ve already bought the first two books in this series and plan to read them soon!

Two young girls have been kidnapped, and it’s a very similar case to a previous one where one girl was found and the other never was. The perpetrators of the first kidnapping have never been caught, which immediately sets alarm bells ringing for D. I. Kim Stone, who is heading up this new investigation. Things quickly take an even more sinister turn when a text message states that only one set of parents will get their child back – the parents who offer the highest bid!

I found Kim Stone fascinating, she is such a great character. She is very tough and incredibly focused on her work, but she finds it near impossible to switch off and is not good at taking care of herself. There have obviously being a lot of issues in her past that have affected her greatly but Kim tries to shut herself off from her issues but it is apparent in the way she is that they have had an impact on her. Elements of Kim’s past come to the fore in this book because she has a link with someone affected by the kidnapping; I’m now keen to read the earlier books in this series to try and put together more about her. I enjoyed how she and Bryant worked together and how he knew her so well and could read her very well, their relationship really helped make Kim seem less hard and more likeable. I also really enjoyed the scenes that involved Kim and Mike, even though they don’t say a huge amount to each other and they were often at loggerheads, it was still interesting to see their connection.

This book has such a claustrophobic feel to it that heightens the tension for the characters and the reader. The police decide to contain the two sets of parents in one house along with the investigating officers. It felt stifling but it worked so well; at times it was so intense that I felt like I was holding my breath, especially once the text arrived with the demand for bids that set the parents against each other.

The chapters in this book are very short, and the focus goes back and forth between the police and the kidnappers and the two girls’ families, which kept the momentum going brilliantly. It’s one of those books where it gets to be very late at night and you can barely keep your eyes open because you’re so tired, and yet you keep thinking just one more chapter!

About halfway through this book I had my suspicions around who might be involved in this kidnapping but I never did work it out, I love it when a book keeps me in suspense all the way through as I usually can see a twist coming or I can spot whodunnit but not in this book. I can’t wait to read more by Angela Marsons and will be reading the first two books in the series as soon as I can!

I rate this book 4.5 out of 5.

Lost Girls is out now and available from Amazon.

I received this book from Bookouture via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Abroad by Katie Crouch

Abroad

Grifonia is an ancient Italian city which plays host to swarms of foreign exchange students every year. Irish student Tabitha Deacon arrives wanting to immerse herself fully into Italian life and so turns down the university accommodation and quickly finds herself renting a room in a small cottage with two Italian women and an American student, Claire. Tabitha, or Taz as she prefers to be known, is very insecure and desperately wants to fit in, and so finds herself unable to resist when the cliquey Brit Four invite her to join their group. The Brit Four lead a very lavish lifestyle and Taz finds herself at increasingly decadent and dark parties. The sense of foreboding is gradually heightened as Taz gets further involved in their world.

Abroad is very loosely based around the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in 2007; Amanda Knox was convicted of the crime, but this novel focuses on the fictionalised story of before.

From the beginning of this novel the reader knows that Taz’s time in Grifonia doesn’t end well, and the tales woven through her story of young women throughout ancient Etruscan civilisations who have befallen horrible, often sacrificial fates due to their being women, gives this novel a haunted feel all the way through. The narrative style adds to this by evoking such a sense of longing and loss; it is reminiscent of Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones with it’s slightly distant, dream-like quality. It just makes the reader ache for these lost young women.

This novel is wonderfully written and an utterly engrossing read, albeit discomforting at times due to it’s links to a real life case. I highly recommend this book.

I gave it 9 out of 10 stars.