I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Blood Song, the latest instalment in Johana Gustawsson’s series featuring Emily Roy and Alexis Castells and which follows on from Block 46 and Keeper.
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 instalment in the award-winning Roy & Castells series.
I’m a big fan of this series, which offers the reader a crime series with a difference, successfully blending police procedural and historical fiction. In Blood Song, it’s Franco’s Spain that provides the backdrop. From Therese, and later her daughter, Gordi, the reader gets a first-hand account of what life was like in Spain at the time for those considered to be involved in the rebellion against Franco’s rule. Brilliantly written and well researched, these segments are handled with great sensitivity, toning down the detail while still highlighting the atrocities committed. I love the way in which Gustawsson blends the seemingly separate storylines together, cleverly overlapping the present-day case with the historical segments, and always in a way that I don’t expect.
The case in Blood Song is one that is a little closer to home as the family of Aliénor Lindbergh – a new recruit to Scotland Yard and apprentice to Emily Roy – are found murdered in their home in Sweden. It’s a grim case, and with several potential motives offered up, it’s a tough one to crack. I would have liked to have seen the storyline from the Lindbergh’s fertility clinic investigated further. It felt as though this element of the story was brushed under the carpet somewhat, and I thought that it was a genius idea – bold, original, and creepy, I could read a novel based upon that concept alone. This is a small point, however, and I loved the way in which the story went in a different direction to what I was expecting.
Blood Song is the third novel in the series to feature profiler Emily Roy and true crime writer Alexis Castells. I love these two characters, and I think they offer the reader a different perspective from the usual police officers investigating similar crimes. It felt as though Blood Song focussed more on Emily than Alexis in this novel, possibly because Alexis isn’t involved in the case from the very beginning in the way that Emily is. I’m a big fan of Emily Roy, and I enjoy the different element that a profiler brings to the plot. While fans of the series will be familiar with these two, I do think that if you’re new to Gustawsson’s novel that you should start at the beginning of the series. While the cases themselves can be read as standalones, I think it’s important to fully understand the characters involved, and their actions and attitudes will make much more sense with this background.
Blood Song is another fantastic instalment in the Roy and Castells series, and I can’t wait to see what comes next for this pair. I’m also intrigued to know which element of history Gustawsson will choose to investigate next – I think that the way in which the past affects the present-day story is my favourite element of these novels.
Blood Song is published by Orenda Books, and is available now as an eBook, with the paperback released on 19 September. Many thanks to the publisher and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the early review copy and the opportunity to take part in the blog tour.
Make sure you check out the other fabulous bloggers taking part in the blog tour: