Title: Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson (translated by David Warriner)
Date Published: 19th September 2019
Publisher: Orenda Books
The third book in the award-winning, critically acclaimed Roy & Castells series, featuring true-crime writer Alexis Castells and profiler Emily Roy. Previous titles in the series, Block 46 and Keeper, have won the Plume d’Argent, Balai de la découverte, Balai d’Or and Prix Marseillais du Polar awards and sold in 19 countries. A French, Swedish and English TV series is in production, adapted by and starring award-winning French actress Alexandra Lamy.
Spain, 1938 The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Teresa witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Teresa 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 her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells, and they soon find themselves on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer, in an investigation that 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…
I want to thank Anne Cater for inviting me on this tour and Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of Blood Song in exchange for an honest review.
This is the third in the Roy & Castells series but it can easily be read as a standalone.
So I really enjoyed Keeper by Jo Gustawsson, so I jumped at the chance to read Blood Song and I can say I wasn’t disappointed!
Blood Song is a dark and intense yet utterly compelling novel!
If you don’t know this series, it’s part police procedural, part historical novel, the two are expertly interwoven throughout the novel. The modern day investigation follows Emily Roy, a criminal profiler, and Alexia Castells, a true crime author, and their team, as they hunt for the brutal killer of a wealthy family in their own home.
The historical part of the novel focuses on the Franco regime in Spain. I have to confess I don’t know much about this era in Spain’s history but it was absolutely brutal and heartbreaking! They didn’t seem to distinguish between men and women, if you were seen as the enemy, you were tortured then killed no matter what. What was especially interesting was the fact this novel followed the children of these ‘traitors’ and their lives in the orphanages.
There are some really powerful themes running through the novel, like infertility and child abuse that may make it a little tough for some readers.
My only slight quibble was I felt the modern day investigation wasn’t quite as strong story wise, with a coincidence or two but that of course is just my opinion.
Blood Song is masterful piece of storytelling that will stick in my mind for a long time after I’ve read it. I can’t wait for more from Johana Gustawsson.
About The Author:
Born in Marseille, France, and with a degree in Political Science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French and Spanish press and television. Her critically acclaimed Roy & Castells series has won the Plume d’Argent, Balai de la découverte, Balai d’Or and Prix Marseillais du Polar awards, and is now published in nineteen countries. A TV adaptation is currently underway in a French, Swedish and UK co-production. Johana lives in London with her Swedish husband and their three sons. She drew on her own experience of fertility clinics and IVF to write Blood Song and is happy to speak and write pieces about this.