Block 46

Written by Johana Gustawsson

Review written by Jennifer Palmer

Jennifer Palmer has read crime fiction since her teenage years & enjoys reviewing within the many sub-genres that now exist; as a historian who lectures on real life historical mysteries she particularly appreciates historical cime fiction.


Block 46
Orenda Publishing
RRP: £8.99
Released: May 15 2017
PBK

This is a deeply harrowing tale about a serial killer operating in contemporary Sweden and London, with a linkage to the horror that was Buchenwald in 1944 under the Nazi Regime.

The horrors commence when Linnea Blix, a young jewellery designer, disappears in Falkenberg, Sweden. Later her body is found under a boat in the snowy marina.  Her friend Alexis Castells travels to Sweden with Peter Templeton, Linnea's partner and Alba Vidal, another friend.  The other two return to England but Alexis remains.  Alexis is a true crime writer and is French but lives in London, and joined with Emily Roy, a Canadian crime profiler to help investigate Linnea's murder and a similar murder of a young boy in London.  The pair work in concert with the police in London and in Sweden investigating the connections between these murders.

The narrative shifts to the unspeakable atrocities under the Nazi regime. The continual and casual cruelty of the guards in the concentration camp makes shocking reading even for those with knowledge of Nazi atrocities.   The build-up of horror upon horror illustrates painfully what life for a prisoner in Buchenwald was like during that time; and a timely reminder about the depths of darkness within humanity.

The horrors of the Nazi concentration camp and their connection to contemporary times and the hunt for a serial killer requires a little patience from the reader as it takes time to gradually unfold.   This is a multi-layered story told in alternating chapters from various viewpoints and different times. The violence in the narrative is implicit though shocking, and a feeling of danger pervades and permeates the story making this debut at times hard to read. The tale is heavily researched as is the detail of the investigation making it engaging but also very dark and not for those of a nervous disposition.

This debut by journalist Johanna Gustawsson is written with an assured hand, woven intricately where the strands knot into a breathless and startling dénouement, so it is of little surprise that further adventures of Alexis Castells and Emily Roy are in the process of translation into English.

Editor’s Note : Translated into English by Maxim Jakubowski and winner of Balai de la Découverte 2016 and Nouvelle Plume d'Argent 2016



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