The Bleeding by Johanna Gustawsson , trns by David Warriner

Today it is my absolute pleasure to be sharing my thoughts on The Bleeding, the brand new novel from Johanna Gustawsson. I’ve absolutely loved reading the author’s Castells and Roy series and was sooo excited when I heard there was a new book on the way. My thanks to Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books for sending me an early copy, and to Anne Cater for the tour invite. Here’s what the book is all about:

Source: Advance Readers Copy
Release Date: 15 Sept 2022
Publisher: Orenda Books

About the Book

1899, Belle Époque Paris. Lucienne’s two daughters are believed dead when her mansion burns to the ground, but she is certain that her girls are still alive and embarks on a journey into the depths of the spiritualist community to find them.

1949, Post-War Québec. Teenager Lina’s father has died in the French Resistance, and as she struggles to fit in at school, her mother introduces her to an elderly woman at the asylum where she works, changing Lina’s life in the darkest way imaginable.

2002, Quebec. A former schoolteacher is accused of brutally stabbing her husband – a famous university professor – to death. Detective Maxine Grant, who has recently lost her own husband and is parenting a teenager and a new baby single-handedly, takes on the investigation.

Under enormous personal pressure, Maxine makes a series of macabre discoveries that link directly to historical cases involving black magic and murder, secret societies and spiritism … and women at breaking point, who will stop at nothing to protect the ones they love…

My Thoughts

Oh what an absolute treat this book was. It has everything I look for in a novel – mystery, intrigue, brilliant characters and that kind of atmospheric tension that slowly wraps itself around you until you are so enshrouded you can’t possibly escape it, even if you wanted to. Which, by the way, I didn’t. Set across three time periods, this is a story of murder, secret societies and family that took me on the most unexpected and deliciously dark of journeys that I simply tore through it. So wonderful to have another Johana Gustawsson book in my library and, for fans of the author, this one is a triumph.

Called to the scene of a murder, Lieutenant Maxine Grant finds herself unexpectedly tied to the only witness, and suspect, Pauline Caron, a woman who was once her teacher. The evidence seems incontrovertible, but then, at least in the beginning, the Detectives assigned to the case really don’t have the full picture. Macabre discoveries are made, and what seemed like an open and shut case becomes a very complex case indeed.

Wound around this present day investigation we are also introduced to Lucienne, a woman who has lost her two precious daughters in the most tragic of ways and Lina, a young girl struggling to overcome the vicious influence of bullies who are intent on making her life hell. This is what I love about the author’s writing, the way in which she can take three very distinct and unique storylines and mesh and mould them until a clear picture starts to form. There was no doubt in my mind that by the end of the book we would understand how the three different stories intertwined, but it is done in such a way that there is a blanket of mist covering our eyes until the crucial moments. When it slowly beings to dissipate, when we can start to see the truth of what the author is telling us, the result is staggering, the impact all the sharper and more acute because of it.

This is story of three very different women from three very different moments in time and yet each of their tales hits its mark with pitch perfect style. Each is driven by a unique desire or motivation, but all of it links back to the need to protect others, a quest for understanding and enlightenment where the results are beyond anything I had been expecting. Touching on moments of the occult and representations and expectations of women throughout history, Johana Gustawsson has created a story that is packed with her trademark authenticity, moments of true history infiltrating the fiction in a way that adds gravitas to the tale.

Hats off to David Warriner who has once again captured the heart and soul of the authors writing, enabling us to experience every moment of subtlety and each outright shock in a way that enthrals and draws us deep into the book. I didn’t want to step away, I wanted to discover the books secrets, to learn more of the drive that empowered the three different women and fully intrigued by the development of the characters.

And then that ending. Just when you think you have seen everything that this book has to offer, Ms Gustawsson goes and does that! A perfectly imperfect way to end the book, but one that has left me wondering just what will come next. Compelling, authentic, dark and full of perfectly pitched twists and revelations, it’s another absolute winner and definitely recommended. Loved it.

So it can have one of these too.

Welcome back Johana. We’ve missed you!

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, including Block 46, Keeper and Blood Song, has won the Plume d’Argent, Balai de la découverte,Balai d’Or and Prix Marseillais du Polar awards, and is now published in 28 countries. A TV adaptation is currently underway in a French, Swedish and UK co-production. The Bleeding – number one bestseller in France and the first in a new series – will be published in 2022. Johana lives on the west coast of Sweden with her Swedish husband and their three sons.

About the Translator

David Warner translates from French and nurtures a healthy passion for Franco, Nordic and British crime fiction. Growing up in deepest Yorkshire, he developed incurable Francophilia at an early age. Emerging from Oxford with a Modern Languages degree he narrowly escaped the graduate rat race by hopping on a plane to Canada – and never looked back. More than a decade into a high-powered commercial translation career, he listened to his heart and turned his hand to the delicate art of literary translation. David has lived in France and Quebec, and now calls beautiful British Columbia home.

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