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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.

280 pages, Kindle Edition

First published February 5, 2017

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About the author

Johana Gustawsson

19 books117 followers
Born in 1978 in Marseille, France, and a graduate of Political Sciences, Johana Gustawsson was a journalist for television and French press. She now lives in London, England.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 220 reviews
Profile Image for Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings).
1,479 reviews149 followers
June 25, 2017
I'd read some fabulous reviews of "Block 46" written by Johana Gustawsson recently and it had been recommended to me on many an occasion, so when I won this book in a Twitter competition I was over the moon that I could read and review it for myself!
After reading the first captivating chapter set in Buchenwald Concentration Camp I had to pause to contemplate exactly what it was I was reading. Brutal, barbaric, harrowing, disturbing - definitely not for the faint hearted - I found it gripping from the start to the climatic conclusion.
"Block 46" is a compelling serial killer story that's dark and twisted - easily sending chills up your spine - with totally engaging characters that have been translated from the original French version flawlessly. It's a truly thought provoking read that's set within a superbly crafted plot and indisputably keeps you guessing until the brilliantly terrifying end that has you shocked at the clever and ingenious twist!
We are half way through the year and I have already pencilled in the impressive "Block 46" for my book of the year - it truly blew me away - and it will be hard pushed to be beaten!
I imagine there must have been some very gruelling research carried out for this story, especially from her own personal family resources. The author's note at the end really got to me too - my great uncle was a survivor of a Japanese prisoner of war camp and the Burma railway and I totally empathise with her thoughts and feelings to the tragic and heartbreaking conditions prisoners in all camps were subjected to.
This is the first book I have read by the outstanding Orenda Books and I know it won't be my last - an amazing 5 stars (wish I could award more) for a highly recommended and unforgettable book that I will definitely be reading again!
Profile Image for The Book Review Café.
644 reviews182 followers
May 6, 2017
All my reviews can be found at http://thebookreviewcafe.com

Nothing, and I mean nothing could have prepared me for Block 46 by Johana Gustawasson, if you are looking for a unique, nail biting and gripping tale look no further than this book, it’s going to sound cliched but it literally left me speechless (not an easy task let me tell you!). Block 46 has been translated seamlessly from the original French by Maxim Jakubowski, and it’s so well translated you don’t think for one minute it’s been written in anything but English.

Block 46 begins with the death of a young jewellery designer. When a young boy’s body is discovered with similar wounds, it seems that there is a deviant serial killer on the loose, but how do the murders link to the 1940s Buchenwald Concentration Camp in Germany? From the outset Block 46 is a dark and disconcerting tale that begs to be read in one sitting. The narrative moves effortlessly between the present day investigation and 1944. The chapters told from Buchenwald Concentration Camp bring the sheer barbarity of what happened there to life, heartbreakingly realistic the author describes the scenes vividly but with great empathy. It was impossible to work out how the author could possibly bring the two timelines together, but she does in the most spectacular of fashions.

The author has created one hell of an antagonist, their the worse kind of monster, and one that will send shivers down your spine, and yet I couldn’t help wanting to learn more about this twisted and depraved soul. Every location is expertly depicted, steeped in atmosphere, horror and suspense, which made for a thrilling read. Despite this book being a dark and disturbing read I was surprised that the writing is both descriptive and beautiful, you really don’t expect that with a crime thriller, but it works, in fact I think it made the book all the more chilling.

Without hesitation this book has already made it to my top reads of 2017. Why? Because it’s a rich and harrowing story of the psychology of evil, good versus bad, death versus life, it’s complex, fast paced, and disturbing, all the elements that make a crime read stand out from the norm. Gripping from the first page, Block 46 will keep you on the edge of your seat all the way to its shocking conclusion, that I can guarantee.
Profile Image for Sarah.
2,549 reviews162 followers
May 8, 2017
Block 46 is a story that flicks between present day and back to 1944. The holocaust is something that has always interested me and I have read lots of books on the subject. Reading the chapters that were set in the concentration camp was just as chilling as reading the many true stories that are out there. They are very dark and disturbing and the author without a doubt had my full attention.

I enjoyed the novel being set between Sweden and London. I think it always adds something to a story when it isn’t just set in one area. It’s good to see that when needed, the police force will reach out to different people from different countries in the hope of solving a crime. It’s always interesting to see the point of view of a character that’s a profiler also. That is one profession that has always intrigued me and made the story even more appealing.

There are so many elements of this story that just reached out and grabbed me. Apart from it being extremely dark and disturbing in parts, it has everything I love in a crime novel. From the first time I heard about this novel, I knew I had to read it and now having read it, all I can say is that I can not wait to read more by the author. A spine chilling read that is perfect for readers who love their crime books more darker and thrilling.

My thanks to Orenda books for a copy of this book. All opinions are my own and not biased in anyway.
Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,911 reviews763 followers
May 27, 2017
I'm on the fence when it comes to this book, I don't deny it's a good book, it's just that I was not completely taken with the story. But, I will get to that later on. Let's start with the good things first. I found myself really loving the Swedish angel of the story. I'm Swedish, which my blog name clearly state and JohanaGustawsson has really captured the Swedish mentality (and our love for strange food Smörgåstårta is fantastic) and I found myself really like having two characters experience the life in Sweden and the contrast to England/Canada. For them, it's quite exotic, which for me was fun because it's so natural.

The case was interesting with its connection to WW2 and Buchenwald Concentration Camp. Reflecting on the end can I only say that not everything as it seems and even though I was not really surprised to learn who the killer was did Gustawsson add a final twist to the story. One that when I learned thought "of course, why did I not think about that?".

But, and here comes my big dilemma, I was never completely taken with the story. It never really sucked me in, I felt like I have kept aloof all the time, just on the edge of being taken it, but not being able to. It happens sometimes, on the paper, it's a book that seems to be written for me, but there is just something holding me back, and I do think it's because I never really felt like I got to know Alexis and Emily. They never came to life for me, and even towards the end when one of them was in real danger did I not worry because she had not fleshed out enough for me to worry about her. But, this is just me, the book is good, no doubt at all, and the right reader will love it!

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy for an honest review!
Profile Image for Kate.
606 reviews517 followers
September 26, 2017
I genuinely don’t know how to describe Block 46 without giving anything away. It is an absolutely stellar addition to the Orenda Books catalogue. Gripping, haunting and so completely evocative, it is a superb read.

Following the discovery of Linnea Blix, who was found mutilated and murdered, a body of a young boy is also found in London. The reader is then taken on a journey along with those tasked with finding out the truth. This investigation takes place over many locations, with many different characters taking part, and all of these different threads are woven together brilliantly by the author.

This is the second book I’ve read recently to have been set in Buchenwald. These parts are not easy to read. The author has done a great job of writing sensitively around an extremely harrowing subject though. Capturing the atmosphere can’t be easy, but I felt the most emotion while reading the chapters set there.

Block 46 is a murder/mystery in theory. But it is honestly so much more. It delves deep into people’s character, how they behave and react in certain situations and this is expertly written by the author. It’s not often I find myself struggling to find the words for a review. But I am with this one. Block 46 is brutal, honest and emotionally harrowing but it’s so worth reading!

Highly recommended!
Profile Image for ReadsSometimes.
218 reviews55 followers
November 17, 2017
Wow! I've not read for a few months and this was a joy to read.

This book is a tremendous, seductively dark thriller. In essence, it's a criminal investigation, but once the story unravels, it holds many depths and it's quite horrific at times.

Initially, I found the read quite a slow burner and it didn't really grab me. But I finished the last half in one sitting, unable to put it down.

Orenda Books never cease to amaze me with their ambition, and this book is another splendid example.

Highly recommended!!
Profile Image for Joanne Robertson.
1,349 reviews549 followers
May 22, 2017
Ok I have to start by saying that although I was desperate to read this book after hearing reading so many wonderful reviews, I did approach it with trepidation. It was mainly due to the fact that parts of it were based in a Concentration Camp and from a personal perspective I knew it was going to be tough reading. But can I just reassure anyone concerned or put off reading it due to the setting that you have NOTHING to worry about! Yes, it is harrowing and yes, some of those haunting scenes once imagined can’t be unimagined, but this book is based on fact and we must never forget what actually happened during the Holocaust, no matter how distressing. Johana Gustawsson has taken a personal slice of her own family history and used it to layer up an intelligent and beautifully crafted thriller.

Emily Roy is a criminal profiler who has joined up with Alexis Castells to investigate the death of a Swedish jewellery designer. Her brutal murder seems to have connections to the deaths of young boys that have been occurring in London. As they work together putting the pieces together, they are shocked to discover that all these crimes may also have a connection to the events that happened during the Holocaust back in 1944. These murders are quite graphic in nature but the author never shows a gratuitous side to the violence so although they are hard to stomach at times, the detailed descriptions are in the form of visual clues and a relevant necessity to moving the plot forward.

Block 46 has a very international feel to it with its combination of different settings and I totally forgot whilst reading it that the book had actually been translated from its original French. This seamless transition meant I became so involved with the investigation that the short chapters flew by. I was entirely hypnotised by the breathtaking and beautifully written prose and that twist! I hadn’t been expecting anything like that so when it came, it floored me! Yes, me who claims to spot 99.9% of twists had a moment of pure jawdropping pleasure when all the threads of this stunning book finally knitted themselves together. And I then had to read the final poignant chapter three times, unable to let Block 46 go, wanting to imprint it on my mind forever.

Block 46 was so much more than I had hoped for in a serial killer thriller. It’s probably one of the most memorable debuts I have ever read. Heart-breaking and hard hitting in equal measures, this book had it all for me and I was an emotional mess by the end of it. Very highly recommended by me!
Profile Image for Gram.
543 reviews36 followers
December 17, 2019
I can't understand why this book is getting so many rave reviews. The writing is pretentious with the sex scenes, for example, tasteful to the point of being antiseptic. Although the details of a 2nd World War death camp are vivid and disturbing, the 21st Century part of the murder mystery is rendered almost bland and we learn next to nothing of the 2 main characters supposedly carrying out the investigation. Both are females. One a French Canadian criminal profiler working with Scotland Yard, the other a true crime author who seems to spend more time in bars, restaurants and cafes than she does doing any actual investigative work. In fact, she is almost extraneous to the plot. One of the male characters is your stereotypical chauvinist police officer and the author's constant sniping at this character gets a bit wearing. As for the murder investigation, it's set mainly in Sweden, even though the bulk of the murders took place in London. The "breakthrough", when it comes, is a throwaway line at the end of a phone conversation. The profiler is constantly portrayed as enigmatic, although this is probably because we learn very little about her or the other main female character. Parts of the story was taken up with describing various Swedish delicacies, culture and various locations in Sweden. As a serial killer thriller, it makes a great tourist guide.
Profile Image for Christine.
831 reviews144 followers
August 21, 2017
Block 46 is quite simply outstanding. I am still recovering from the powerful impact of this book. It is incredibly clever, multi-layered and it leaves an emotional imprint. I was left speechless, wondering how I could do such a book justice. This is my attempt to share my love for Block 46.

First of all, I would like to clarify one thing. I went into Block 46 thinking it was a French novel, with a French setting. The author Johana Gustawsson is French. It has been translated from the French version of Block 46. I was very wrong. It really is more of an English cross Scandinavian hybrid crime novel. It feels like Scandinavian noir. It oozes it.

Block 46 has a few strands. As with a real quality drama, you soon follow them and accept that it will take a while to get to unpick the truth. One strand follows Emily Roy, a Canadian profiler living and working in London. She is on secondment to Scotland Yard. She is part of a police investigation looking into a series of deaths, where the bodies have been mutilated in quite a peculiar way. She is soon on her way to Sweden, to investigate a link to a crime committed there.

Also in the present day, we get to meet French true crime writer, Alexis Castellis. She is at the opening of a new jewellery collection by her friend, Linnea Blix in London. Linnea does not show up at the event. She is reported missing. Linnea’s boyfriend, Peter Templeton, does not know where she is. Alexis, Peter and another friend, Alba, fly to Falkenbury, Sweden to see if she is at her holiday home. Unfortunately a body is discovered. Linnea has been murdered.

At the same time, we are introduced to chilling part of German history. In 1944, a young student doctor is on his way to the death camps. Erich Ebner is on board an over crowded train en route to Buchenwald Concentration Camp. This marks the start of Erich’s descent into the hell of the camps, where people are murdered, tortured and treated as less than human. Erich is German and a political prisoner of war.

Everything does connect, in time. Beautifully and movingly. There seems to be serial killer at work, in the present day. We have two time shifts, in London, then Sweden and war torn Germany. We have a story that just simply is strong, believable and extremely dark. When Emily Roy and Alexis Castellis join forces to get to the truth, it becomes truly exciting and mesmerising. The pace never lets up. We have a very chilling serial killer, who is escalating in his crimes. Plus a horrific and realistic account from Erich of the evil perpetrated by the Nazi to Jews, political prisoners and others deemed outsiders in their regime.

With some intense, gorgeous writing Johana Gustawsson takes us on an unforgettable journey. We learn about humanity and how low it can sink. This is a story of evil. With a twist or two, the ending will simply leave you breathless. This is noir at its best, with some very French and Scandinavian tones. A very unique and stunning read. A book to just savour!

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Janel.
511 reviews91 followers
May 3, 2017
Block 46 needs to be on your reading list, it’s fantastic! And how amazing is the cover!?!

It starts with a body – there are few openings that set my heart on fire but the ones that do, always start with a murder – you immediately have my full attention, who is the murderer, who is the victim, what is the motive? Not only does Gustawsson deliver a great crime thriller, this book also packs an emotional punch!

I really don’t want to elaborate on the above description too much because I want you to get maximum enjoyment from this book, like I did, if when you read it so I’m going to be vague in my review. Murders in London and murders in Sweden, the modus operandi appear to be the same but why and how and who connects these crimes? Emily and Alexis are tasked with finding the answers, travelling back and forth between countries, with enough red herrings to keep me constantly on the edge of my seat. A serial killer thriller that is clever in plot and brilliant in delivery.

Parallel to the above narrative, we get the narrative of Erich, living through the horror of the concentration camps in 1944’s Nazi Germany.

“Fear paralysed their senses: it had replaced pain, thirst, hunger and extreme fatigue. Where were the sons, the daughters, the wives of these men?”

You’d be inhumane not to feel sympathy for Erich’s plight, the journey to the camp is horrific enough, before we even get to the arrival! Let alone, what happens in Block 46, Dr Fleisher needs an apprentice and he has chosen Erich. Rumour has it, people enter Block 46 but none ever come out, will that be true for Erich?

As you read this book, you know the past and present are connected, but Gustawsson does an amazing job at keeping us in suspense as to how the past has impacted the future. I can’t remember the last time an author played havoc with my emotions regarding the characters, turning on its head all that I thought I knew about the characters. There are those that you instantly like, those that you’re suspicious of and those that you don’t necessary like but they’re on the side of good in this fight against evil so you root for them anyway.

I’m not even going to talk about the plot twist, which I thought was exceptional! If you read only one book I’ve recommended this year, make it this one – emotive, thrilling and beautifully written. Maxim Jakubowski did a wonderful job translating the text, it really feels like nothing was lost in the translation. Nordic Noir you have met your match, French Noir, in the form of Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson!

I cannot wait to read Gustawsson’s next book!!!

*My thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for providing me with a digital copy of this book*
Profile Image for Kylie H.
858 reviews
January 16, 2019
This is a book that moves between present day England and Sweden and past horrors in Buchenwald concentration camp. A serial killer is targeting small boys and getting more daring. Alexis, a writer, becomes involved when a friend disappears in Sweden and reacquaints with profiler Emily. As the motives and clues unfold links start to form between a parallel story about a German prisoner and experimentation in the mysterious Block 46 of the camp.
A great story told in an intriguing way.
Profile Image for Crime by the Book.
192 reviews1,580 followers
May 2, 2017
Read my full review at: http://crimebythebook.com/blog/2017/4...

This is a really strong series debut from Gustawsson. Part Nordic Noir, part French Noir, part serial killer, AND part historical fiction - Gustawsson blends these many different elements very well, creating a harrowing and bone-chilling thriller. I wholly enjoyed this read - and I surprised myself by actually loving the historical fiction element of the book most of all! One note: I will caution that this book does depict violence against children. Overall, this is another Orenda Books winner! Read my full review at the link above.
Profile Image for Louise Beech.
Author 17 books311 followers
April 27, 2017
If you like your crime dark and unafraid, then look no further than Johana Gustawsson. Block 46 is brutal and sexy, exquisitely written, and unforgettable. Gustawsson doesn't shy away from anything; she'll take you where other crime writers might not dare wander, vividly and accurately describing the most brutal of crimes, taking you inside the heads (and hearts) of those on both sides of the investigation, and all this conjured up with the most beautiful prose. The ending left me pacing the house. That's all I'll say. Read it.
Profile Image for Yvonne (It's All About Books).
1,948 reviews243 followers
August 15, 2019

Finished reading: July 26th 2019

"Whatever she did, the words were dislodged by her thoughts; like a swarm of bees hounded from their hive, they scattered erratically, unable to organise themselves."

P.S. Find more of my reviews here.
Profile Image for Meggy Chocolate'n'Waffles.
509 reviews98 followers
May 18, 2017
This review was originally posted on my blog.

How do I even begin to describe the harrowing beauty of Block 46?

A look at the blue cover chosen by Orenda Books was enough to entice me to read the story. Would you believe me if I told you I did not even read the synopsis? Because I did not.


First, cover love. Second, call me shallow or whatever, I was proud to see a French author being published by an English company I trusted, so the Frenchie I am decided to give the story every chance by avoiding all information about it beside the cutting cover.

I was intrigued by the title, I was curious about the story, I imagined a lot of things. Johana Gustawsson gave Block 46 an unforgettable meaning, delivered a dark and intense story, and went above and beyond all I had in mind.

Why did women have this ridiculous habit of wearing the man's clothes after leaving their bed?

Questions. I had lots of them throughout the two narrations offered in this story. I couldn't figure out how they could be connected.

Present, dead and mutilated bodies, a changing modus operandi, different places, a difficult investigation.

Past, camps, the horror of World War Two, the pain in my chest when recalling my great-grandmother's stories, survival, pure horror.

Johana Gustawsson nailed both narratives, whisking her reader away in a silent and macabre dance through one of the most intricate and riveting plot I have had the chance to read.

I was unable to detach my eyes from the pages, and my guess is you won't either. The author shows, never tells, and her unique style makes the most traumatic events readable, as a reminder, as an unsung song to lost souls, as a tribute.

But, as Alba had once told her, death was not an absence but, on the contrary, a secret presence.

Emily Roy. Not the most amicable person, but an expert profiler, working on a series of horrendous murders on children. When she is called to Sweden to check the body of a woman presenting similarities with her current case, I wasn't prepared for what we discovered. The author doesn't spare you on details. Never just for the sake of disgusting you, but to plunge you into Emily's world, to let you in on how to understand, connect, and find the worst human beings who ever walked the Earth. Every word carefully brings a piece of the scenario until your mind creates the entire picture and you can see everything for yourself. Feel everything. And be left speechless.

I can easily say that even if Emily is still a mystery to me, she has become a favorite protagonist of mine. Her focus and her mind are fascinating and her ways with others so very different from what you'd expect. She reads whoever she needs to get the answers she wants, and doesn't bother with social rules when she doesn't have to. It only made me more curious about her.

The profiler kept on sipping at her Guinness as if it were a vintage Bordeaux.

Emily can count on the police force to help her in her task, or at least, most of it. Profilers, especially young and female, don't impress old and seasoned officers, but some do have her back, and she finds herself faced with an old acquaintance, Alexis Castells, deeply involved in the Swedish case. I must say I feel as much curiosity about Alexis as I do for Emily. Writer, specialized in serial killers, she finds herself in the middle of something she hadn't expected and both women team up to stop the bloodshed. I feel there is so much to learn about both of her, so many layers to take off, and the author's writing hints at deep scars, heavy backgrounds, and effortlessly shows you how multi-layered those two different but equally captivating characters are. I couldn't help but fall and feel for them as the story unfolded.

Alexis' daily routine, contrary to popular belief, had little in common with the wonderful Carrie Bradshaw's.

I often say I don't like discussing plots but this time more than ever, nothing I say will give enough credit to the intensity of the experience of reading Block 46. The book is brutal, almost primitive. There is no other word. I was disgusted. I was crying. I was shaking. I was shocked. I had no word. My heart kept either missing beats or rushing as thought it wanted to burst out of my chest. I was holding the book so tight my poor copy is in poor shape now, but that is what the most horrifyingly beautiful book does to you. A wonderfully skilled writing to the service of the most evil crimes. When everything unfolds and the answers are given to you, you can only put down the book and start breathing again.

Once you read Block 46, it is tattooed on your mind, for better and for worse, and you are left asking for more. Johana Gustawsson gives French Noir a new meaning with this phenomenal and unforgettable story.

I would like to thank Orenda Books and Johana Gustawsson for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Chandra Claypool (WhereTheReaderGrows).
1,529 reviews314 followers
May 18, 2017
I've been so blessed with having such great reads lately! Block 46 is definitely at the top of my list. I've been seeing this book everywhere and for very good reason.

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. I will say that after 2 books in a row dealing with crimes against children, I hope to stay away from that subject matter for a while, no matter how beautifully written.
Profile Image for Liviu Szoke.
Author 28 books352 followers
May 24, 2019
Carte citită în avanpremieră. Va apărea la editura Tritonic, probabil după Bookfest. Johana Gustawsson va veni în România, cu ocazia lansării acestei cărți.
Excelentă. O carte cu psihopați/criminali în serie ceva mai atipică, deoarece rădăcinile acestora pornesc hăt-departe, tocmai în timpul celui de-Al Doilea Război Mondial, în lagărul de concentrare de la Buchenwald. Teribile vremuri, care ar explica, parțial, comportamentul deviant al criminalului și violența deosebită a acestuia. Până la un anumit punct.
Două personaje principale ceva mai atipice, un profiler, Emily Roy, și o jurnalistă/scriitoare, Alexis Castells (aceasta din urmă se trezește implicată în anchetă după ce criminalul îi omoară cea mai bună prietenă, deși el omorâse până atunci doar băieței), pornite pe urmele unui criminal care acționează ba la Londra, ba în Suedia, pe coasta de vest, în preajma orașului Falkenberg.
Detalii, pe FanSF: https://wp.me/pz4D9-2WF.
Profile Image for Tracy Fenton.
889 reviews166 followers
June 17, 2018
Having heard so many readers recommend Block 46 and Keeper, I thought I should finally try some French Noir and see what I was missing.

Without rehashing the plot which is described above, I can say that Bl0ck 46 is without doubt a fast paced, “just one more chapter”, gripping, sadistic, disturbing book which I devoured in a day. With two timelines, I found myself totally immersed in both stories. The Concentration Camp in 1944 was sickening, upsetting and truly disturbing, but I couldn’t help but be fascinated by Erich Hebner’s story. The present day storyline (2014) set in Hampstead, London and Sweden were equally as gripping.

As mentioned I read this within a day and downloaded the second book in this series, Keeper, and started it immediately. Highly recommended for crime fans.

Coincidentally, in the middle of reading this book I went out to dinner in Hampstead Village and walked past Flask Walk where Emily Roy lives!
Profile Image for Robert Intriago.
708 reviews5 followers
May 3, 2020
It took me awhile to get used to the translation style and all the Swedish names but once I did the book was very good. Set mainly in Sweden and London this dark mystery is very rewarding. The choice of protagonist is also very original as the pair of females in the lead roles are not what you would think of when you pick up a detective story. One is a French writer and the other is a Canadian profiler working for Scotland Yard. The story revolves around missing children who come from foster or single partner homes. These children, when found, have been mutilated in a certain way. In order to discover the killer the protagonists have to solve the significance of the mutilation. This is not a book for the squeamish.
Profile Image for Eva.
794 reviews416 followers
April 19, 2017
Review to follow on blog tour.
November 29, 2018
Read 8/1/18 - 13/1/18 keeping track till the read dates glitch is fixed

Second book I read while cruising the South Pacific - Noumea, Mystery Island, and Maré Island.

I enjoyed this more than my first 'cruise book'. It was more focused on the crime and had more graphic details (I like my murders nice and gory and well described!).

I had a suspect picked from nearly the beginning and turned out to be completely wrong, which I was really glad about because the is way too easy to pick and I would have been really disappointed if the book had taken that tired route. So yeah, the villain reveal completely surprised me. I was going through all the possibilities as the moment got closer and he wasn't even on the list.

Did I mention this was gory and graphic? Trust me it is and it bears repeating. If that's not your kind of crime thriller, skip this one. What the killer did to
556 reviews8 followers
March 11, 2017
Mutilated bodies of naked little boys have been showing up in Sweden. A team of police supported by a British profiler discover that similar unsolved murders have been committed in Britain. The story alternates between these current crimes and Block 46 in Buchenwald death camp where the diabolical Dr Fleisher along with his prisoner assistant, Erich Ebner, perpetrate unspeakable crimes against their young victims. This fast moving thriller takes the reader on a wild ride in search of the identity of a madman.
Profile Image for Susan Hampson.
1,522 reviews55 followers
May 19, 2017
There are times when a book just has that edge that makes it one that people will still be reading in the distant future and others will still recall it clearly from when it was first published. This isn't a book to remember, this is a book you will never forget.
I truly admire this author that has taken a very personal slice out of her own family's history and woven into it a mesmerising story of survival, heroes and the darkest minds of men without souls. Although this book was originally written in French it has been expertly translated by the very talented Maxim Jakubowski into what I can only describe as one of the darkest times of mans history. The Holocaust.
There is a real mystery as to how the murder of a talented jewellery designer in Sweden and the random murders of two young boys in London can possibly be connected but the distinctive method of pre disposal of these victims leaves the police with no doubt. The talents of Emily Roy, a profiler and Alexis Castells a true crime writer, come together to make a very formidable team. This is a pairing that I look forward to experiencing for many years to come.
Written through different time periods, which contain their own horrors, it is masterfully woven together to complete a believable story. But there is nothing more horrific than that of Buchemwald Concentration Camp in WW11. The brutality and courage are described here with equal passion which literally at times stopped me reading. I don't think that a book I have read has ever captured the essence of pure fear that came from these pages word for word like it did.
It was both fascinating and disturbing to find myself in the minds of such evil, the logic and reasoning but most of all pride in what they were doing. This is a very powerful story and shocking from beginning to end. Definitely not for the faint hearted. A Superb piece of writing.
Profile Image for Aileen Mckenzie.
185 reviews8 followers
May 18, 2017
Sacré bleu! Already Block 46 is one of my top reads of 2017. Dark and devastating, and expertly translated from French to English, Block 46 takes the reader on a journey that most other books don’t want to go on. Block 46 reveals its story through the use of two timelines as it opens in present day London following the disappearance of jewellery designer, Linnea. Switching location to Falkenberg Sweden, a woman’s mutilated body is found hidden under a boat in a marina and the authorities start working to piece together Linnea’s last movements. When a young boys body is found in Hampstead Heath, London with the same mutilations there is clear there is a connection between the two, but why does this killer have such large hunting ground?

Alongside the murders in London and Sweden, the narrative takes us back to World War II, to Buchenwald Concentration Camp circa 1944. This is where we meet Erich, a German prisoner of war. Erich is subjected to horrific violence, de-humanisation and degradation, and just when Erich is ready to give up and succumb to his fate, he is moved to Block 46 in Buchenwald, and this is where the reader gets to find out the origins of the book’s title, and the relevance the past has on the present day murders. These chapters are not easy reading. I have read a lot of books set around WWII, in particular ones that include the atrocities of the Holocaust but the passages in Block 46 are amongst the most powerful and evocative I have read to date. The most horrific part being that these are not scenes the author has conjured up in her head, these acts of savagery happened to millions of real people and we should never lose sight of that.

This story sunk its claws into me and just would not let go. In the antagonist the author has created a sadistic monster, the kind nightmares are made of. Whilst repulsed I was ghoulishly fascinated at the same time, curiously wanting to find out more about this character and his psychopathology. Gustawasson weaves an unforgettable, dark tale and brings the horrors of the Holocaust to life right off of the pages. Despite the subject matter being so disturbingly heinous the author’s writing is beautiful and eloquent. The plot has been so carefully planned out, seemingly unconnected threads are woven together perfectly at the end. I thought I had the ending all figured out but with a twist I really did not see coming the author left me in a state of shock, and I found myself thinking about it long after finishing the book.

Highly recommend this clever and compelling crime fition novel, it’s hard to take in parts, but worth every single gasp. Thanks to Johana Gustawsson, Anne Carter and Orenda Books for the advanced review copy.
Profile Image for Alina Dinu.
148 reviews18 followers
June 4, 2019
Johana Gustawsson aduce cu scrierea ei o imagine sumbră, tragică și sângeroasă, care prin intensitatea scenelor descrise și a evenimentelor ce inspiră ferocitatea acțiunii te face să rămâi fidel povestirii, indiferent de gradul de înfiorare pe care îl resimți. Autoarea împletește în jurul unui trecut desprins din realitatea atrocităților din lagărele naziste – mai precis lagărul Buchenwald, o intrigă ce pune în centru un criminal în serie, al cărui mod de operare îngheață sângele în vene. Linia trecut-prezent pare să delimiteze două povești diferite, însă paralela este construită să accentueze misterul și suspansul, să implice o serie de personaje prin acțiunile cărora urmărești un scenariu terifiant. Anii de după 1944 din care autoarea construiește un monstru ce respiră din tenebrele lagărului, se reflectă în anii din prezent și pune la încercare o echipă de detectivi în elucidarea unor cazuri de crimă, săvârșite de un profesionist.
Profile Image for Valeriane.
354 reviews25 followers
March 19, 2017
Mais oui quoi!
Littéralement dévoré, dur de lâcher ce livre une fois qu'on plonge le nez dedans.
Effroi historique, intrigue palpitante, rythme effréné, une plume super agréable et un duo dont il me tarde d'avoir des nouvelles... ca tombe bien... Mör (the next!) vient de paraitre...

Un thriller "anglo-franco-suédois" à côté duquel il ne faut pas passer...
Fais-toi plaisir!
Profile Image for Andy Weston.
2,345 reviews136 followers
December 31, 2017
This is a stand out book read at a time when I was concerned about my choices in the crime genre. Perhaps the major reason is that there's a strong element of horror about it as well.

The story is told in two strands, one from the end of the Second World War, and the other covering a recently discovered body that has been mutliated in the modern day. By far the stronger of the two is set in the Buchenwald Concentration Camp in 1944 and progresses gradually through the years. Gustawsson's own grandfather was part of the liberation of the camp in 1945 and her research is impeccable as you would imagine. The violence is extreme and based on what actually happened at the camp, so also quite disturbing. The weaving together of the two strands is done particularly well. The timing of Gustawsson's key moments is impeccable and ensures that the reader's attention is held. I had thought three quarters of the way through that the ending would be predictable, but it wasn't, and actually there is a very good twist to round things off.
Profile Image for Jessica.
997 reviews36 followers
May 15, 2017
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!

In Sweden, the mutilated body of a young jewelry designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a marina. Meanwhile, in London, the body of a young boy is also discovered with similar wounds. Do we have a serial killer on the loose? Then we bounce back to 1944, in the Buchenwald Concentration Camp during the Holocaust, and follow Erich Hebner.

Emily Roy, a profiler from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, is working with Scotland Yard. She joins up with Linnea's friend, Alexis Castells, and they try to solve the puzzling case together before the killer strikes again. How are these murders connected and how are they connected to the horrific events that occurred in Block 46 back in Buchenwald?

Gustawsson did an amazing job blending together all of these elements. It can be hard adding in the historical fiction piece, but she did it seamlessly. Anything that has to do with the Holocaust is always bone chilling, and this is no exception. Another thing I was very happy about, was that it didn't feel like I was reading a translation, so Maxim Jakubowski did a phenomenal job.

If you want a chilling, page turning thriller, with a touch of history, then this is the next book for you!

5/5 stars!

Thanks to Orenda Books for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!
May 16, 2017
I am going to begin my review with a quote from the foreward that Johana has included in Block 46. It is a quote taken from Eugen Kogon, a historian and a survivor of the Holocaust

‘There is nothing positive to say about the depths through which I wandered for seven years, surrounded by the blind and the damned who raged like souls possessed against all that remained of human dignity’

Powerful words that hold such meaning from someone who was there…..

Block 46 is a novel that highlights a period of time I always seem to be very drawn to in literature. The Holocaust and the heinous and unforgivable atrocities that were carried out there, in the name of a madman, are brought to life for the reader through the most vivid descriptions and narrative I think I have ever read.

Johana Gustawsson, with the assistance of the excellent translation by Maxim Jakubowski, takes the reader on a journey from modern day London and Sweden to the death camp of Buchenwald.
Linnea Blix, renowned jewellery designer, is about to launch her most prestigious campaign yet, with a collection of jewels for Cartier at their New Bond Street store. Her friend, French crime writer Alexis Castells, is due to attend the event in support of her friend but on arrival, it’s obvious something is amiss.

Linnea had purchased a ‘bolt-hole’ in Falkenberg, Swedan, a sanctury for her to escape the intensity of her super-charged London lifestyle. It was from here Linnea was due to arrive into London from. but she fails to turn up as scheduled, which immediately raises concerns.

A mutilated body is discovered in Falkenberg and to the horror of Alexis it is the body of Linnea.

In the meantime a similar discovery is made of a young boy’s body in London.

Seemingly unrelated, until it is noted that both suffered similar terrifying deaths with both bodies having the same carved markings.

The arrival of Emily Roy on the scene, a profiler with a reputation for getting results, leaves no doubt that this is a case that potentially has huge consequences, with the possibility of a serial killer been responsible for these murders.

The reader is quite visually transported back to Buchenwald, 1944

‘None of this made any sense. The journey. The dead. The cruelty. The music. The Naked bodies. No one even tried to conceal their nudity any longer, as if each and every one of them had already abdicated their humanity. And above all reigned the silence…..The man from the train had been right. It was indeed hell that was greeting them at the end of their journey. But a thoroughly well-organised hell’

These are the thoughts of Erich Ebner as he arrives off the trains into Buchenwald. Arrested as an activist, Erich is thrown into the most hostile and vile of situations where every breath he takes will possibly be his last. Stripped of his humanity, it soon becomes obvious to Erich that in order to survive he must endure. It is a question of how much he can endure and how much he is willing to sacrifice to live, that faces Erich on a daily basis.

Here’s an important fact. As I read the descriptions of the barbaric acts that were committed in Buchenwald, my stomach churned with feelings of pure disgust and horror. What I did not know until I had completed the book was that Johana Gustawsson’s grandfather, Simon Lagunas, was a survivor and one of many courageous individuals involved in the resistance within the camp and subsequently it’s liberation on 11th April 1945. 56,000 victims lost their lives there but for those who survived the memories now live on through the generations.

In Block 46, although a fictional story, Johana has paid tribute to these strong people, keeping their story alive.

The impact of the damage done to lives is told here as we follow history from 1944 to the present day.

Emily Roy and Alexis Castells are a new pairing in crime fiction, as their investigative prowess comes together in an almost organic manner. They work well as a team and it is through their individual attention to details and their lack of fear for their own safety that makes for a great partnering and the potential for an amazing new series.

Johana Gustawsson is a new voice in French Noir. Her ability to bring the reader on such a vivid journey, leaving you bewildered, appalled yet longing for more, is a testament to her skill as a writer.

Karen Sullivan, publisher of Orenda Books, wrote an excellent post recently on why ‘Violence serves a profound purpose in Block 46'. Karen explains with great clarity the reasons behind the explicit violence that is displayed in Block 46.

Block 46 is not a book for all. It is disturbing. The acts committed are very graphic. It is a book that deals with evil and leaves the reader asking the question – Is someone born evil or does society create evil? It is a book that will leave you speechless and quite disturbed, horrified and traumatised, yet wanting more. I feel very strongly about this book and I so hope it gets all the accolades it deserves.

I’ll leave you with one final quote from the book

‘Block 46, the antechamber to death’
Profile Image for Ken Fredette.
960 reviews50 followers
September 13, 2017
In her notes at the end of the book Johana notes that her grandfather was a prisoner at Buchenwald. This, plus several other antidotes, were what she tells in the story. My hats off for her and her grandfather. Johana has a real dastardly mind when it comes to relating things to people. If you read the book you'll have to agree with me. The story is nasty but a very good one to see what the war was about. Years later also.
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