Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson (Translated by David Warriner)

Today it is my absolute pleasure to be joining the blog tour for Blood Song, the very latest Roy and Castells thriller from Johana Gustawsson, very skilfully translated by David Warriner. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to join the tour and to publisher Orenda Books for providing an advance copy for review. Here’s what the book is all about:

Source: Review Copy

About the Book

The action swings from London to Sweden, and then back into the past, to Franco’s Spain, as Roy & Castells hunt a monstrous killer … in the lastest instalment of Johana Gustawsson’s award-winning series

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.

Available from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Google Play | Apple Books

My Thoughts

I really do love this series. Each book is like a new adventure, a journey back into a different part of history and yet bringing those traumatic events of the past into the present in a skilful, authentic, and often heart breaking way. From concentration camps, to the terror of the Ripper era London, and this time back to the horror of Franco Spain, Johana Gustawsson is able to transport the reader back and forth between past and present, never once letting you feel comfortable but always keeping you completely hooked.

The opening of this book is a fine example. We see Alexis Roy attending an horrific crime scene, one which seems to defy explanation but one that will ultimately shock the reader. And yet it is not this grotesque tableau that we are witness to that will form the real backbone of the story. That reveal is yet to come and it is one that will send shockwaves across the team. What we have yet to witness is a case that is completely heinous, but sadly all too believable, and one that will end up causing irrevocable changes to the lives of our favourite characters.

And that’s as much as I want to say about the plot to be fair. I think you need to read the book (of course you do) to understand, as this is a complex, richly drawn mystery, that cannot be fairly expressed in just a few sentences. This is a murder mystery. A story of long held secrets. A story that will horrify you and one where you will almost feel some sympathy for the guilty party when they are finally revealed. Almost …

As with all of Johana Gustawsson’s books, this is not a story for the faint of heart. She never crosses the line to the gratuitous side of the violence which lurks at the edges of every scene, but she takes the reader close enough to be able to paint a picture of their own, one that cannot fail to leave you appalled and will have you weeping for the innocent victims . There is so much emotion tied up in the pages, some overt, some quite controlled, but it all builds to leave you breathless and worn by the experience.

I will admit, possibly to my shame, that this is not a period of history I am very familiar with, but because of the very clear portrayal within the book, I am certainly more aware now. It never ceases to amaze me the things that people will do to each other and the author has, once again, held no punches. This is brilliant portrayal of the damage that violence can inflict upon a person, both physically and mentally, but also a testament to the strength of some people in dealing with their past and forging a better, more positive future. I have a new respect for some of the characters in the book now. A better understanding of who they are that has changed the way I look at them.

The language and imagery in the book are, as always, perfect, putting the reader at the heart of the story and provoking an emotional response to what you are reading. It is a novel that flows beautifully, pulling me along from chapter to chapter, making me loathe to step away. The transition between chapters and across time is seamless, giving the reader just enough detail to drop important hints, but never so much as to give away what, when you look at it with the benefit of hindsight, is startlingly obvious. And I must commend translator David Warriner, whose work is so faultless you would never know that the book wasn’t written in English to begin with. The nuances are there, the style and flow of the author quite clear, and it works perfectly.

Emotive, tense and drawing yet again upon a truly dark time in the world’s not so distant past, this book is full of suspense and makes for a truly compelling and emotional read. This is a series that just keeps getting better and I’m running out of new ways to express how special it is. I’d be hesitant to say I loved this book but not because of the writing or the styling which are, as always, excellent. If you read it you will understand why I say this, the subject matter being one that I simply cannot ‘love‘ I matter how much I am drawn to the character and setting. I would most certainly urge other readers to pick it up and devour it as I did. You will not be disappointed.

About the Author

Born in Marseille, France, and with a degree in Political Science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French and Spanish press and television. Her critically acclaimed Roy & Castells series has won the Plume d’Argent, Balai de la découverte, Balai d’Or and Prix Marseillais du Polar awards, and is now published in nineteen countries. A TV adaptation is currently underway in a French, Swedish and UK co-production. Johana lives in London with her Swedish husband and their three sons. She drew on her own experience of fertility clinics and IVF to write Blood Song and is happy to speak and write pieces about this.

Author Links: Twitter | Website

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