Tag Archives: Johana Gustawsson

Blog Tour: Keeper by Johana Gustawsson


I’m absolutely delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Keeper today.  Keeper is the second novel in Johana Gustawsson’s Roy and Castells series, following on from Block 46 and I think that this second instalment is even better than the first.

Whitechapel, 1888: London is bowed under Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror.

London, 2015: actress Julianne Bell is abducted in a case similar to the terrible Tower Hamlets murders of some ten years earlier, and harking back to the Ripper killings of a century before.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015: a woman’s body is found mutilated in a forest, her wounds identical to those of the Tower Hamlets victims. With the man arrested for the Tower Hamlets crimes already locked up, do the new killings mean he has a dangerous accomplice, or is a copy-cat serial killer on the loose?

Profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells again find themselves drawn into an intriguing case, with personal links that turn their world upside down.

Following the highly acclaimed Block 46 and guaranteed to disturb and enthral, Keeper is a breathless thriller from the new queen of French Noir.

Like Block 46, Keeper has two timelines running through it.  There’s the modern-day narrative in which Roy et al are investigating the disappearance of Julianne Bell whilst also looking into the gruesome discovery of a woman’s mutilated body in Sweden, as well as the historical story that kicks off in Whitechapel in 1888 featuring Jack the Ripper.  The historical elements in Gustawsson’s novels are, I think, my favourite thing about them.  I think that these historical cases add something extra to her novels, setting them apart from the usual crime procedurals.  Additionally, the historical tales always tie in with the main narrative brilliantly, and give a background to the culprits before the reader even knows who they are.

I felt that this story focused more on Emily Roy than Alexis Castells at first, and it was brilliant to be back in her company.  A behavioural profiler, she is extremely clever but doesn’t always play well with others, often not bothering to worry about social niceties and often comes across as being a little blunt.  I think that she’s a fantastic character – she has the troubled past that one often finds in the genre, but hasn’t let that turn her into a maverick, and I like that her profession as a profiler again gives the novel something a little different to the usual harried police detectives that feature heavily in the genre.

As I mentioned, Alexis’s role isn’t as immediately apparent in Keeper, although the case has a very personal element for Alexis, and she soon proves her worth through her own investigations as she comes at the case from a different angle.  Alexis is another character that I really like, and I have to say that her mother is an absolute star!  I’ll let you find out more about her when you read it, however. 😉

I’ve deliberately not gone into the plot in any detail, as I really think that the above synopsis tells you as much as you need to know going into the novel but like Block 46, this is a wonderfully dark and complex novel that will keep you guessing right to the end.  Highly recommended.

Keeper was published in paperback on 28 April by Orenda Books, and is also available as an eBook.  Many thanks to Anne Cater for the review copy, and the opportunity to take part in the blog tour.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Make sure you check out the other stops on the blog tour:

FINAL Keeper blog poster 2018


Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson

block 46

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson, and was thrilled when Karen at Orenda Books offered to send me a copy for review.

Evil remembers…

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 Ebner 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.

Plumbing the darkness and the horrific evidence of the nature of evil, Block 46 is a multi-layered, sweeping and evocative thriller that heralds a stunning new voice in French Noir.

Block 46 is set in two seemingly unrelated time periods.  Much of the storyline is set in January 2014, and focuses on the investigation into Linnea’s murder in Sweden, as well as that of a boy discovered on Hampstead Heath.  The other main element of the plot concerns Erich Ebner, a German medical student who has been incarcerated in Buchenwald concentration camp for rejecting Nazi doctrine.  Whilst these sections were harrowing in terms of the depiction of what life was like for those held in such places, I have to say that these chapters were my favourite parts of the novel, largely because it gave a very different vibe to the story.  Throughout, I wondered how the author would bring these two storylines together, given how different they are, yet Gustawsson brings them together nicely by the end of the novel, with a couple of nice little twists thrown in along the way.

In terms of the present-day investigation, Alexis Castells and Emily Roy make something of an unusual pair, and I liked that their roles added something a little different to the crime genre, as they aren’t your standard police officers or PIs.  Castells is a true crime writer, and therefore has some experience with investigative work and the more gruesome aspects of a crime scene, but has no authority in an investigation, although that doesn’t seem to stop her listening in on interviews.  Emily Roy, on the other hand, is a behavioural profiler, and does have that link to the official channels involved in an investigation.  Roy was by far my favourite character in the novel.  I loved her “I don’t give a ****” attitude and her determination to succeed, whatever barriers she comes up against.

I did have a couple of outstanding questions by the end of the novel, largely around the experiments undertaken in Buchenwald.  Whilst it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the novel, I wanted to know what it was they were hoping to find or prove in the work undertaken there.  It may be that there was no real aim, and it was all some perverse obsession on the part of Dr Fleischer who was in charge of the medical experiments facility, but I was curious to know his objective.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and given that this is being flagged as Roy and Castells 1, I’m hoping there is more to come in this series.  I definitely want to see more of Emily Roy!

Block 46 was published in May 2017 by Orenda Books – many thanks to the lovely Karen Sullivan for providing a copy for review.

Rating: ★★★★☆