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.
Nothing, and I mean nothing could have prepared me for Block 46 by Johana Gustawasson, if you are looking for a unique, nail biting and gripping tale look no further than this book, it’s going to sound cliched but it literally left me speechless (not an easy task let me tell you!). Block 46 has been translated seamlessly from the original French by Maxim Jakubowski, and it’s so well translated you don’t think for one minute it’s been written in anything but English.
Block 46 begins with the death of a young jewellery designer. When a young boy’s body is discovered with similar wounds, it seems that there is a deviant serial killer on the loose, but how do the murders link to the 1940s Buchenwald Concentration Camp in Germany? From the outset Block 46 is a dark and disconcerting tale that begs to be read in one sitting. The narrative moves effortlessly between the present day investigation and 1944. The chapters told from Buchenwald Concentration Camp bring the sheer barbarity of what happened there to life, heartbreakingly realistic the author describes the scenes vividly but with great empathy. It was impossible to work out how the author could possibly bring the two timelines together, but she does in the most spectacular of fashions.
The author has created one hell of an antagonist, their the worse kind of monster, and one that will send shivers down your spine, and yet I couldn’t help wanting to learn more about this twisted and depraved soul. Every location is expertly depicted, steeped in atmosphere, horror and suspense, which made for a thrilling read. Despite this book being a dark and disturbing read I was surprised that the writing is both descriptive and beautiful, you really don’t expect that with a crime thriller, but it works, in fact I think it made the book all the more chilling.
Without hesitation this book has already made it to my top reads of 2017. Why? Because it’s a rich and harrowing story of the psychology of evil, good versus bad, death versus life, it’s complex, fast paced, and disturbing, all the elements that make a crime read stand out from the norm. Gripping from the first page, Block 46 will keep you on the edge of your seat all the way to its shocking conclusion, that I can guarantee.
I’m sure it won’t come as much of a shock but I will be giving Block 46 the very prestigious Gold Star Award Rating. It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a good read, fantastic plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page. Personally I will be waiting for Johana Gustawasson’s next book with baited breath, I’m just hoping we don’t have to wait to long.
My thanks to Karen over at Orenda books for giving me the opportunity to read this superb book.
Print Length: 300 pages
Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS (5 Feb. 2017)
Born in 1978 in Marseille, France, and a graduate of Political Sciences, Johana Gustawsson was a journalist for television and French press. She now lives in London, England.
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