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The Wartime Book Club by Kate Thompson #Review

  The Wartime Book Club is a marvellous historical novel set on Jersey in World War Two. Written by Kate Thompson , it was published by Hodder $ Stoughton on February 13th. Jersey, 1943. Once a warm and neighbourly community, now German soldiers patrol the cobbled streets, imposing a harsh rule on the people of the island. Grace La Mottée, the island's only librarian, is ordered to destroy books which threaten the new regime. Instead, she hides the stories away in secret. Along with her headstrong best friend, postwoman Bea Rose, she wants to fight back. So she forms the wartime book club: a lifeline, offering fearful islanders the joy and escapism of reading. But as the occupation drags on, the women's quiet acts of bravery become more perilous - and more important - than ever before. And, when tensions turn to violence, they are forced to face the true, terrible cost of resistance . . . Based on astonishing real events, The Wartime Book Club is a love letter

Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson translated by Maxim Jakubowski ** Blog Tour Review ** #FrenchNoir

Welcome to my stop on the Block 46 Blog Tour to celebrate its publication by Orenda Books on May 15th 2017. It is an amazing book whose intensity takes your breath away. It's certainly going to be one of the most memorable that I have read this year.

 Award-winning debut French Noir thriller, first in the Roy & Castells series. 
Winner of Balai de la Découverte 2016 and Nouvelle Plume D'Argent 2016.

A true-crime writer and a profiler join forces in the hunt for a serial killer.
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 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.
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.

 My Thoughts

This is Johana's debut novel but don't let that fool you. It is beautifully written and skilfully conceived. The passages depicting the monstrous treatment of those in Buchenwald Concentration Camp are so horrifying but never gratuitous. It isn't immediately obvious what the link is between the present day murders and the events of 1944 and there are many twists and turns as the story develops. However, Johana controls the action with confidence and the outcome still manages to shock.

The partnership of Emily Roy and Alexis Castells works beautifully with each viewing the cases through their different perspectives. You feel their absolute disgust at what they seem to be uncovering and their reactions are a wonderful contrast to their gruesome findings. Alexis' personal friendship with Linnea Blix adds another dimension to the investigations. 

I would normally shy away from descriptions of violence particularly involving children but the historical fiction element sets it within a context. This is a gripping and gritty read which deals with issues which take you further than a crime novel. As an examination of evil, it is a chilling but unforgettable read.

In short:  a mesmerising look at how humanity can be subjected to harrowing and cruel treatment. 

About the author 

Born in 1978 in Marseille and with a degree in political science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French press and television. She married a Swede and now lives in London. She was the co-author of a bestseller, On se retrouvera, published by Fayard Noir in France, whose television adaptation drew over 7 million viewers in June 2015. She is working on the third book in the Roy and Castells series. 

You can  follow Johana on Twitter, on her Website and on Facebook.

Thanks to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater of Orenda Books for a copy of the book and a place on the Blog Tour.

Catch up with the rest of the Tour!


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