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  • Title: Blood Song
  • Author: Johana Gustawsson
  • Translator: David Warriner
  • Publisher: Orenda Books
  • Publication Date: 19th September 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

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.

My Thoughts:

There are a few authors that I always look forward to book news from, but Johana Gustawsson is a name that I will practically stalk on social media for updates. The simple reason is that her books are stunning.

For fans of Block 46 and Keeper, you are in for an amazing reading experience with Blood Song. With a dual timeline, readers are transported between 1938 Spain and 2016 Sweden, coupled a cast of characters who compel and captivate and a plot that completely blows you away.

Gustawsson has the ability to effortlessly beguile her readers, weaving a complex and compelling tale that draws on events from history. I must admit, my knowledge of Franco’s dictatorship was quite lacking, I had no comprehension of the atrocities committed under the guise of civil war, nor the conditions that met the imprisoned upon their arrival. The narrative surrounding this timeline is heartbreaking, and while there has been attempt to soften some of the more brutal aspects, there is no denying that it gives readers much to think about and I certainly cannot deny the impact it had upon me as I read. I felt that I was holding my breath, holding back tears, holding in screams.
The 2016 timeline contains its own atrocities, including the murder of Aliénor Lindbergh’s family. But this should not overshadow the investigation into the Swedish fertility clinics which made for frightening reading. The exploitation of people when they are so vulnerable and so desperate for a child is hard to read, but it is pitched perfectly to engage the reader.

And as the plot unfolded, I found myself wrapped up in the lives of the characters, feeling their pain, their frustrations and anguish. I always feel a sort of connection with Emily Roy and Alexis Castells, something in the way that these two characters have been crafted makes them so lifelike, the situations they are involved in become more than just words on a page, they play out like clips on a movie reel.

Up until now, Block 46 was a firm favourite for me, but I think that Blood Song has somehow managed to wedge itself a little more into my heart. Somehow this book has managed to fascinate and haunt my head in equal measure, it is a truly magnificent book.

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