Alexis the French mystery writer and Emily the Canadian profiler working with Scotland Yard make a good team. We are introduced to the serial killer in the prologue. The story starts with the disappearance in Sweden of Linnea a friend of Alexis. Emily is dragged in because of similarities to the murder of two boys in London.
As the story progresses we find out more about the serial killer and his link to Buchenwald death camp and German experiments on prisoners. The Swedish police and our erstwhile ladies follow clues and work toward finding the killer. Quite a good story.
The main issue I have is the way the author throws in segments for shock value. Unnecessary crude swearing and lascivious thoughts. The almost loving description of the serial killers work. These are not necessary. The description of the horrors of the death camp is necessary and bad enough without resorting to crude shocks.
I also found that the various strands of the stories didn't quite gel. It was fascinating that the chapters had date which was useful as I got lost a couple of times, and time a false accuracy which had no relevance.
The basic story is fine. The author goes too far into voyeurism and horror shock for me to enjoy the book.
This is a book that moves between present day England and Sweden and past horrors in Buchenwald concentration camp. A serial killer is targeting small boys and getting more daring. Alexis, a writer, becomes involved when a friend disappears in Sweden and reacquaints with profiler Emily. As the motives and clues unfold links start to form between a parallel story about a German prisoner and experimentation in the mysterious Block 46 of the camp. A great story told in an intriguing way.
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!