Well, I am going to cut to the chase people. Block 46, by Johana Gustawsson, absolutely blew me away. This book will end up being one of my favourite reads of the year. Hands down. No questions.
This book wears so many hats; it truly is a book for everyone. Fans of historical fiction will love its general premise rooted in the Second World War and the Holocaust. Suspense and mystery fans will devour its ominous tone, it’s red herrings and intricate, meticulously weaved storyline. Thriller fans will be impressed with the pace, the jaw-dropping plot twist, and the creepy nature of the serial killer character.
In this story, multiple things are happening right from the first pages. In 2014, in Sweden, a body of a woman is discovered and investigators begin to hunt down the perpetrator. Not far, in England, the bodies of young boys are being discovered in shallow graves, the work of another serial killer. Emily Roy, an RCMP (yeah Canada!) and a profiler on loan to the Scotland Yard begins working alongside true crime writer Alexis Castells to investigate these cases. Meanwhile, the novel flashes back and forth to 1944 to Buchenwald Concentration Camp where Enrich Ebner is suffering in the midst of the Holocaust.
Continuously throughout my reading, I was torn. Normally something stands out for me in a book. There is a narration I am biased towards, a character I prefer or someone’s story I wish to hear more of. This novel left me with none of those feelings. Each story I wanted to absorb fully. Each narration I devoured and each character brought something so deliciously dark and disturbing to the text. As far as I am concerned, Gustawsson is a literary genius.
I do not want to say any more for fear of spoiling any of this plot, but I will say one thing: if you are going to read one novel this year. Make it Block 46. I am still reeling.
5/5 stars. Can I rate a book a 6?
Thanks to the publisher (Orenda) and to the author for providing me with a copy of this book; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.
This also was a #cjsreads pick for May. If you want to see what Chandra and Jessica thought of this one- keep reading!
What Chandra Thought:
We follow two separate timelines – one in the year 2014 where Emily, a cop, along with Alexis, a true crime writer, are trying to catch a serial killer whom they find has victims in both Sweden and London. Then we revert to the year 1944, at a concentration camp where we follow Erich Ebner’s storyline. I found this timeline to be more interesting as the author really does a fantastic job of putting you into the horrors of Nazi, Germany and inside the head of one of the captive. I wondered for the first part of the book how these storylines were going to come together as they seemed like two completely separate stories for a while. When the author finally does start meshing the storylines, I was all A-HA! Now I see it! There it is – I’ve got this figured out. Nope. BAM! I took a few minutes to pick my jaw up off the floor and reassemble my face.
The writing is fantastic – she pulls everything together so intelligently. She tackles the dark subjects in a way that feels necessary and not forced. Taking each puzzle piece, dropping them into place and creating a masterpiece.
What Jessica Thought:
Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson is a knock out debut for this series. You’ve got a little bit of everything. Nordic noir, French noir, historical fiction, AND there’s a serial killer? My interest is piqued already!