Block 46 (Emily Roy Alexis Castells, #1) By Johana Gustawsson

I can't understand why this book is getting so many rave reviews. The writing is pretentious with the sex scenes, for example, tasteful to the point of being antiseptic. Although the details of a 2nd World War death camp are vivid and disturbing, the 21st Century part of the murder mystery is rendered almost bland and we learn next to nothing of the 2 main characters supposedly carrying out the investigation. Both are females. One a French Canadian criminal profiler working with Scotland Yard, the other a true crime author who seems to spend more time in bars, restaurants and cafes than she does doing any actual investigative work. In fact, she is almost extraneous to the plot. One of the male characters is your stereotypical chauvinist police officer and the author's constant sniping at this character gets a bit wearing. As for the murder investigation, it's set mainly in Sweden, even though the bulk of the murders took place in London. The breakthrough, when it comes, is a throwaway line at the end of a phone conversation. The profiler is constantly portrayed as enigmatic, although this is probably because we learn very little about her or the other main female character. Parts of the story was taken up with describing various Swedish delicacies, culture and various locations in Sweden. As a serial killer thriller, it makes a great tourist guide. 1910633704 Wow! I've not read for a few months and this was a joy to read.

This book is a tremendous, seductively dark thriller. In essence, it's a criminal investigation, but once the story unravels, it holds many depths and it's quite horrific at times.

Initially, I found the read quite a slow burner and it didn't really grab me. But I finished the last half in one sitting, unable to put it down.

Orenda Books never cease to amaze me with their ambition, and this book is another splendid example.

Highly recommended!! 1910633704 Block 46 is quite simply outstanding. I am still recovering from the powerful impact of this book. It is incredibly clever, multi-layered and it leaves an emotional imprint. I was left speechless, wondering how I could do such a book justice. This is my attempt to share my love for Block 46.

First of all, I would like to clarify one thing. I went into Block 46 thinking it was a French novel, with a French setting. The author Johana Gustawsson is French. It has been translated from the French version of Block 46. I was very wrong. It really is more of an English cross Scandinavian hybrid crime novel. It feels like Scandinavian noir. It oozes it.

Block 46 has a few strands. As with a real quality drama, you soon follow them and accept that it will take a while to get to unpick the truth. One strand follows Emily Roy, a Canadian profiler living and working in London. She is on secondment to Scotland Yard. She is part of a police investigation looking into a series of deaths, where the bodies have been mutilated in quite a peculiar way. She is soon on her way to Sweden, to investigate a link to a crime committed there.

Also in the present day, we get to meet French true crime writer, Alexis Castellis. She is at the opening of a new jewellery collection by her friend, Linnea Blix in London. Linnea does not show up at the event. She is reported missing. Linnea’s boyfriend, Peter Templeton, does not know where she is. Alexis, Peter and another friend, Alba, fly to Falkenbury, Sweden to see if she is at her holiday home. Unfortunately a body is discovered. Linnea has been murdered.

At the same time, we are introduced to chilling part of German history. In 1944, a young student doctor is on his way to the death camps. Erich Ebner is on board an over crowded train en route to Buchenwald Concentration Camp. This marks the start of Erich’s descent into the hell of the camps, where people are murdered, tortured and treated as less than human. Erich is German and a political prisoner of war.

Everything does connect, in time. Beautifully and movingly. There seems to be serial killer at work, in the present day. We have two time shifts, in London, then Sweden and war torn Germany. We have a story that just simply is strong, believable and extremely dark. When Emily Roy and Alexis Castellis join forces to get to the truth, it becomes truly exciting and mesmerising. The pace never lets up. We have a very chilling serial killer, who is escalating in his crimes. Plus a horrific and realistic account from Erich of the evil perpetrated by the Nazi to Jews, political prisoners and others deemed outsiders in their regime.

With some intense, gorgeous writing Johana Gustawsson takes us on an unforgettable journey. We learn about humanity and how low it can sink. This is a story of evil. With a twist or two, the ending will simply leave you breathless. This is noir at its best, with some very French and Scandinavian tones. A very unique and stunning read. A book to just savour!

Highly recommended. 1910633704 Ok I have to start by saying that although I was desperate to read this book after hearing reading so many wonderful reviews, I did approach it with trepidation. It was mainly due to the fact that parts of it were based in a Concentration Camp and from a personal perspective I knew it was going to be tough reading. But can I just reassure anyone concerned or put off reading it due to the setting that you have NOTHING to worry about! Yes, it is harrowing and yes, some of those haunting scenes once imagined can’t be unimagined, but this book is based on fact and we must never forget what actually happened during the Holocaust, no matter how distressing. Johana Gustawsson has taken a personal slice of her own family history and used it to layer up an intelligent and beautifully crafted thriller.

Emily Roy is a criminal profiler who has joined up with Alexis Castells to investigate the death of a Swedish jewellery designer. Her brutal murder seems to have connections to the deaths of young boys that have been occurring in London. As they work together putting the pieces together, they are shocked to discover that all these crimes may also have a connection to the events that happened during the Holocaust back in 1944. These murders are quite graphic in nature but the author never shows a gratuitous side to the violence so although they are hard to stomach at times, the detailed descriptions are in the form of visual clues and a relevant necessity to moving the plot forward.

Block 46 has a very international feel to it with its combination of different settings and I totally forgot whilst reading it that the book had actually been translated from its original French. This seamless transition meant I became so involved with the investigation that the short chapters flew by. I was entirely hypnotised by the breathtaking and beautifully written prose and that twist! I hadn’t been expecting anything like that so when it came, it floored me! Yes, me who claims to spot 99.9% of twists had a moment of pure jawdropping pleasure when all the threads of this stunning book finally knitted themselves together. And I then had to read the final poignant chapter three times, unable to let Block 46 go, wanting to imprint it on my mind forever.

Block 46 was so much more than I had hoped for in a serial killer thriller. It’s probably one of the most memorable debuts I have ever read. Heart-breaking and hard hitting in equal measures, this book had it all for me and I was an emotional mess by the end of it. Very highly recommended by me! 1910633704 Block 46 needs to be on your reading list, it’s fantastic! And how amazing is the cover!?!

It starts with a body – there are few openings that set my heart on fire but the ones that do, always start with a murder – you immediately have my full attention, who is the murderer, who is the victim, what is the motive? Not only does Gustawsson deliver a great crime thriller, this book also packs an emotional punch!

I really don’t want to elaborate on the above description too much because I want you to get maximum enjoyment from this book, like I did, if when you read it so I’m going to be vague in my review. Murders in London and murders in Sweden, the modus operandi appear to be the same but why and how and who connects these crimes? Emily and Alexis are tasked with finding the answers, travelling back and forth between countries, with enough red herrings to keep me constantly on the edge of my seat. A serial killer thriller that is clever in plot and brilliant in delivery.

Parallel to the above narrative, we get the narrative of Erich, living through the horror of the concentration camps in 1944’s Nazi Germany.

“Fear paralysed their senses: it had replaced pain, thirst, hunger and extreme fatigue. Where were the sons, the daughters, the wives of these men?”

You’d be inhumane not to feel sympathy for Erich’s plight, the journey to the camp is horrific enough, before we even get to the arrival! Let alone, what happens in Block 46, Dr Fleisher needs an apprentice and he has chosen Erich. Rumour has it, people enter Block 46 but none ever come out, will that be true for Erich?

As you read this book, you know the past and present are connected, but Gustawsson does an amazing job at keeping us in suspense as to how the past has impacted the future. I can’t remember the last time an author played havoc with my emotions regarding the characters, turning on its head all that I thought I knew about the characters. There are those that you instantly like, those that you’re suspicious of and those that you don’t necessary like but they’re on the side of good in this fight against evil so you root for them anyway.

I’m not even going to talk about the plot twist, which I thought was exceptional! If you read only one book I’ve recommended this year, make it this one – emotive, thrilling and beautifully written. Maxim Jakubowski did a wonderful job translating the text, it really feels like nothing was lost in the translation. Nordic Noir you have met your match, French Noir, in the form of Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson!

I cannot wait to read Gustawsson’s next book!!!

*My thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for providing me with a digital copy of this book* 1910633704

In Falkenberg, Sweden, the mutilated body of talented young jewelry designer Linnea Blix is found in a snow-swept marina. In 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. Block 46 (Emily Roy Alexis Castells, #1)

SUMMARY Block 46 (Emily Roy Alexis Castells, #1)

Block 46 is a story that flicks between present day and back to 1944. The holocaust is something that has always interested me and I have read lots of books on the subject. Reading the chapters that were set in the concentration camp was just as chilling as reading the many true stories that are out there. They are very dark and disturbing and the author without a doubt had my full attention.

I enjoyed the novel being set between Sweden and London. I think it always adds something to a story when it isn’t just set in one area. It’s good to see that when needed, the police force will reach out to different people from different countries in the hope of solving a crime. It’s always interesting to see the point of view of a character that’s a profiler also. That is one profession that has always intrigued me and made the story even more appealing.

There are so many elements of this story that just reached out and grabbed me. Apart from it being extremely dark and disturbing in parts, it has everything I love in a crime novel. From the first time I heard about this novel, I knew I had to read it and now having read it, all I can say is that I can not wait to read more by the author. A spine chilling read that is perfect for readers who love their crime books more darker and thrilling.

My thanks to Orenda books for a copy of this book. All opinions are my own and not biased in anyway. 1910633704 I'd read some fabulous reviews of Block 46 written by Johana Gustawsson recently and it had been recommended to me on many an occasion, so when I won this book in a Twitter competition I was over the moon that I could read and review it for myself!
After reading the first captivating chapter set in Buchenwald Concentration Camp I had to pause to contemplate exactly what it was I was reading. Brutal, barbaric, harrowing, disturbing - definitely not for the faint hearted - I found it gripping from the start to the climatic conclusion.
Block 46 is a compelling serial killer story that's dark and twisted - easily sending chills up your spine - with totally engaging characters that have been translated from the original French version flawlessly. It's a truly thought provoking read that's set within a superbly crafted plot and indisputably keeps you guessing until the brilliantly terrifying end that has you shocked at the clever and ingenious twist!
We are half way through the year and I have already pencilled in the impressive Block 46 for my book of the year - it truly blew me away - and it will be hard pushed to be beaten!
I imagine there must have been some very gruelling research carried out for this story, especially from her own personal family resources. The author's note at the end really got to me too - my great uncle was a survivor of a Japanese prisoner of war camp and the Burma railway and I totally empathise with her thoughts and feelings to the tragic and heartbreaking conditions prisoners in all camps were subjected to.
This is the first book I have read by the outstanding Orenda Books and I know it won't be my last - an amazing 5 stars (wish I could award more) for a highly recommended and unforgettable book that I will definitely be reading again! 1910633704 I'm on the fence when it comes to this book, I don't deny it's a good book, it's just that I was not completely taken with the story. But, I will get to that later on. Let's start with the good things first. I found myself really loving the Swedish angel of the story. I'm Swedish, which my blog name clearly state and JohanaGustawsson has really captured the Swedish mentality (and our love for strange food Smörgåstårta is fantastic) and I found myself really like having two characters experience the life in Sweden and the contrast to England/Canada. For them, it's quite exotic, which for me was fun because it's so natural.

The case was interesting with its connection to WW2 and Buchenwald Concentration Camp. Reflecting on the end can I only say that not everything as it seems and even though I was not really surprised to learn who the killer was did Gustawsson add a final twist to the story. One that when I learned thought of course, why did I not think about that?.

But, and here comes my big dilemma, I was never completely taken with the story. It never really sucked me in, I felt like I have kept aloof all the time, just on the edge of being taken it, but not being able to. It happens sometimes, on the paper, it's a book that seems to be written for me, but there is just something holding me back, and I do think it's because I never really felt like I got to know Alexis and Emily. They never came to life for me, and even towards the end when one of them was in real danger did I not worry because she had not fleshed out enough for me to worry about her. But, this is just me, the book is good, no doubt at all, and the right reader will love it!

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy for an honest review! 1910633704 All my reviews can be found at

Nothing, and I mean nothing could have prepared me for Block 46 by Johana Gustawasson, if you are looking for a unique, nail biting and gripping tale look no further than this book, it’s going to sound cliched but it literally left me speechless (not an easy task let me tell you!). Block 46 has been translated seamlessly from the original French by Maxim Jakubowski, and it’s so well translated you don’t think for one minute it’s been written in anything but English.

Block 46 begins with the death of a young jewellery designer. When a young boy’s body is discovered with similar wounds, it seems that there is a deviant serial killer on the loose, but how do the murders link to the 1940s Buchenwald Concentration Camp in Germany? From the outset Block 46 is a dark and disconcerting tale that begs to be read in one sitting. The narrative moves effortlessly between the present day investigation and 1944. The chapters told from Buchenwald Concentration Camp bring the sheer barbarity of what happened there to life, heartbreakingly realistic the author describes the scenes vividly but with great empathy. It was impossible to work out how the author could possibly bring the two timelines together, but she does in the most spectacular of fashions.

The author has created one hell of an antagonist, their the worse kind of monster, and one that will send shivers down your spine, and yet I couldn’t help wanting to learn more about this twisted and depraved soul. Every location is expertly depicted, steeped in atmosphere, horror and suspense, which made for a thrilling read. Despite this book being a dark and disturbing read I was surprised that the writing is both descriptive and beautiful, you really don’t expect that with a crime thriller, but it works, in fact I think it made the book all the more chilling.

Without hesitation this book has already made it to my top reads of 2017. Why? Because it’s a rich and harrowing story of the psychology of evil, good versus bad, death versus life, it’s complex, fast paced, and disturbing, all the elements that make a crime read stand out from the norm. Gripping from the first page, Block 46 will keep you on the edge of your seat all the way to its shocking conclusion, that I can guarantee. 1910633704 I genuinely don’t know how to describe Block 46 without giving anything away. It is an absolutely stellar addition to the Orenda Books catalogue. Gripping, haunting and so completely evocative, it is a superb read.

Following the discovery of Linnea Blix, who was found mutilated and murdered, a body of a young boy is also found in London. The reader is then taken on a journey along with those tasked with finding out the truth. This investigation takes place over many locations, with many different characters taking part, and all of these different threads are woven together brilliantly by the author.

This is the second book I’ve read recently to have been set in Buchenwald. These parts are not easy to read. The author has done a great job of writing sensitively around an extremely harrowing subject though. Capturing the atmosphere can’t be easy, but I felt the most emotion while reading the chapters set there.

Block 46 is a murder/mystery in theory. But it is honestly so much more. It delves deep into people’s character, how they behave and react in certain situations and this is expertly written by the author. It’s not often I find myself struggling to find the words for a review. But I am with this one. Block 46 is brutal, honest and emotionally harrowing but it’s so worth reading!

Highly recommended! 1910633704