Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson, a must read for crime thriller lovers. Read on for my thoughts, but first the book description……
Spain, 1938: The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Therese witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Therese gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her.
Falkenberg, Sweden, 2016: A wealthy family is found savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Discovering that her parents have been slaughtered, Aliénor Lindbergh, a new recruit to the UK’s Scotland Yard, rushes back to Sweden and finds her hometown rocked by the massacre.
Profiler Emily Roy joins forces with Aliénor and soon finds herself on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer. Little does she realise that this killer is about to change the life of her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells. Joining forces once again, Roy and Castells’ investigation takes them from the Swedish fertility clinics of the present day back to the terror of Franco’s rule, and the horrifying events that took place in Spanish orphanages under its rule.
Terrifying, vivid and recounted at breakneck speed, Blood Song is not only a riveting thriller and an examination of corruption in the fertility industry, but a shocking reminder of the atrocities of Spain’s dictatorship, in the latest, stunning installment in the award-winning Roy & Castells series.
Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson is the third novel in the Roy and Castells series, I know what you’re thinking ‘not another crime series’ but Blood Song is like no other crime series you’ve ever read. Johana Gustawsson the author weaves historical fact with fiction blurring the edges so the two stories fit perfectly together creating a dark and emotive read. The thing I admire about this author’s novels is the fact she can take a period in history, in this case Spain 1938 and the brutalities of Spain’s dictatorship, and incorporate them with crimes set in 2016, how can someone combine such distant periods into a credible story and intertwine them? and yet Gustawsson accomplishes both producing a story that’s harrowing, disturbing, but such a compelling and intensely heart wrenching read.
The author transports the reader between the two timelines effortlessly creating a story which is fluid in its telling. Blood Song doesn’t make for an easy read, especially the scenes set during Spain’s dictatorship. Gustawsson vividly portrays the harsh conditions and the brutality of woman’s prisons and the children’s orphanages with such conviction these scenes are vividly brought to life, evoking so many emotions you wouldn’t expect to feel whilst reading a crime novel. At the same time I feel it’s only fair to mention the scenes are relevant to the story rather than gratuitous.
The crimes committed in present day including the murders of Aliénor Lindbergh’s family are just as horrifying, as those scenes set in wore torn Spain. Coupled with a plot that involves Swedish fertility clinics and Johana Gustwsson has written a book that takes the reader headlong into a story that’s dark and shocking. Blood Song sees the return of French true crime writer Alexis Castells and profiler Emily Roy, I do like the author’s career choices for her two main protagonists, as it means the plot doesn’t feature heavily on police procedures, which I find can sometimes overwhelm a plot. Although we get an insight into their personal life’s the plot is the main focus of the book, rather than the characters.
The tension that reverberates through Blood Song never looses momentum, each short chapter leaves you craving more, urging you on to its conclusion. This book has so much to offer the reader, with a gripping plot, moments of heartbreak, vivid scenes, and characters that will remain with you long after you’ve reached the final pages. With themes of fertility, child abductions, and child abuse the author has created a dark and disquieting story, and one that spans years of violence and abuse. Blood Song is a ‘must read’ for any crime thriller love, and although it could easily be read as a stand-alone I would suggest you read the series in order you won’t be disappointed I promise. Highly recommended.
It will come as no surprise but I’m giving Blood Song my Book hangover award.
How do I choose a book for this award?
It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original 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.
- Print Length: 300 pages
- Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS (19 July 2019)
My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my ARC in exchange for a honest and unbiased review.
Other books in the series