Falkenberg, Sweden. The mutilated body of talented young jewellery designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a snow-swept marina. Hampstead Heath, London. The body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s. Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again. Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald? Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French true-crime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light.
Yes, I know, I’m a year behind everyone else but I have finally read Block 46! I was really keen to read Johana Gustawsson’s latest, Keeper, but a lot of reviews (Janel, I’m mainly looking at you) said it was better to read the start to the series first and, unsurprisingly, they were right!
I finished this a day or two ago and am now halfway through Keeper and I am glad I didn’t miss out on the background to Alexis and Emily’s relationship and the introductions to some of the other characters already popping up in Keeper. Plus there are a couple of references (so far) to this first story that I think would have spoiled it for me had I had not read it first.
First of all, look at that stunning cover. It is a bleak representation of what to expect from the book and the knife cutting through it is a really clever effect. I note that the cover for Keeper perfectly follows a similar pattern.
Block 46 is an insidiously chilling mystery that completely foxed me with its twists. Although it took me a little while to get into, once Emily appeared and the case started to take shape, I was totally hooked. Erich’s chapters from Buchenwald Concentration Camp were shocking, harrowing and disturbing – obviously all the more so for being based on horrific fact – and I found these extremely moving. Johana Gustawsson must have done some meticulous research and has done an incredible job of bringing those horrors to life.
Her descriptions of the stark snowy landscapes of Sweden are also very evocative and I felt like I was right there with the characters in Falkenberg. I also like that she mentions real streets and place in London, which helps you to immerse yourself in the story and brings it to life.
Block 46 is a dark, complex and gruesome story, with some striking characters and an exciting and well-plotted mystery. It is also informative, harrowing and shocking. It is something a little bit different and I highly recommend it.