The hunt for a serial killer takes criminal profiler Emily Roys and true-crime writer Alexis Castells from London to Sweden, and back into the past, to Buchenwald Concentration Camp, in the first instalment an addictive, award-winning new series from the Queen of French Noir
***Winner of Balai de la Découverte and Nouvelle Plume d’Argent Awards***
***International Number One Bestseller***
‘Dark, oppressive and bloody, but it’s also thought-provoking, compelling and very moving’ Metro
‘Gustawsson’s writing is so vivid, it’s electrifying. Utterly compelling’ Peter James
‘A bold and intelligent read’ Laura Wilson, Guardian
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.
‘A terrific, original duo’ The Times
‘Multi-layered, superbly plotted, brimming with mystery, tension and bone-chilling violence, and with two very different – but equally fascinating – lead female characters, Block 46 is not for the squeamish or faint-hearted … this is a book that has the power to shock and the artistry to impress long after the last page has turned’ Lancashire Post
‘Utterly compelling’ Woman’s Own
‘A bold and audacious debut from a very talented writer. Heralds the beginning of a thrilling new series’ R J Ellory
‘Viscerally brutal yet delicately beautiful, like blood spatter on fresh snow. An unbelievable debut’ Matt Wesolowski
‘A truly unique and chilling blend of Nordic Noir’s dark atmosphere … gritty, bone-chilling, and harrowing – it’s not for the faint of heart, and not to be missed’ Crime by the Book
‘A real page-turner, I loved it’ Martina Cole
’A great serial-killer thriller with a nice twist … first rate’ James Oswald
‘Cleverly plotted, simply excellent’ Ragnar Jónasson
‘A must-read’ Daily Express
‘There’s a touch of Hannibal Lector in this one, and the final plot twists are harsh and sudden. You’ll want to double check the door locks and keep a few extra lights on, as you read … the suspense is brutal’ Kingdom Books
French author Gustawsson's overly ambitious first novel, a series launch, is not for the fainthearted. In 2014, ice-in-the-veins Canadian profiler Emily Roy and anxiety-ridden French true crime author Alexis Castells investigate the murder of London-based jewelry designer Linn a Blix, whose mutilated body was discovered beneath a small upside-down boat in a snow-covered marina in Falkenberg, Sweden. In London, a boy's body is found with similar wounds on Hampstead Heath. Flashbacks to 1944 describe in grisly detail the experiences of Erich Ebner, a German university student who's been sent to Buchenwald, where his job is to transport the dead to the crematorium. Overwrought glimpses into a psychotic serial killer's mind add to the horror. Are the present-day murders connected, and what's their link to Erich's ordeal? Past and present converge in an unconvincing denouement as Gustawsson tries too hard to convince readers how closely evil can underlie the veneer of civilization.
When I heard Johana read parts of Block 46 and talk so passionately about what she had written at the recent Orenda Roadshow in Leeds, I knew I had to read this book.
This is a haunting tale split between a current day murder investigation and a harrowing depiction of life for a prisoner of war in Germany. This POW wasn’t any “normal” POW, he was German and he was branded a traitor. The author’s research into and personal connection with such a horrific period in history really shines through in the writing. I felt shocked at the treatment and torment POWs were subjected to whilst imprisoned. I felt immersed in wartime Germany suffering the same horrifying time. This is such a chilling and thought provoking part to the story.
As for the present day part to this novel, I took daily literary trips to the rather chilly Swedish coast to follow the investigation of a jewellery designer. You may ask what does that have to do with a prisoner of war camp, well I guess you have to read Block 46 to find out the connection but I will tell you the climax to this story left me stunned! Goosebumps and shocked hand over mouth!!
This is a totally compelling read – it slowed my reading right down so I could be entirely encapsulated in the story. Most books I read are ones I can read whilst my children are playing or the TV is on. Johana’s book was not one of those; I couldn’t pick it up and put it down, I needed to finish chapters before I could put my kindle to sleep. As I read the parts the author had read over a month previous, I could hear her beautiful French voice reading and singing to me.
I really wish my A-Level French was up to scratch as I would love to read this story in its natural form. But unfortunately it is not, however as with many translations, Block 46 has been done beautifully and seamlessly. This is an amazing debut from the author and I understand there is more to come from the pairing who investigated the present day murder which I will definitely be queuing up to read!
I can’t thank Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books and Anne Cater enough for my copy of Block 46. Johana Gustawsson is someone to watch!