Sunday 28 May 2017


I'm on the blog tour for Johana Gustawsson's Block 46 from Orenda Books. Not a title I have yet read, but one I'm hoping to get to in the next week or so.

The blurb reads......

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. 

Johana has kindly written a piece for the blog.....

The girl in green

It happened in January 2016; I just started my promotion tour for Block 46 in France. My first stop was Montpellier, in Provence. As I always say jokingly, I could have a conversation with a wall, so I was not really worried about meeting readers and discussing my novel, but I was not prepared for what occurred that day.

The very optimistic booksellers from the Sauramps bookshop installed a table with an intimidating pile of Block 46. I sat on the confortable chair, almost hidden by the stack of books, and curious readers began to came by, asking me why I left Marseille - where I was born – or wondering why I was not blond – no, despite my name, I am not Swedish! – and, asking me, at times, to sign them a copy of Block 46, to my greatest pleasure.

I was seated for approximately an hour, when a group of teenagers entered the bookshop: four girls led by one with a lime green coat. They passed in front of my table chatting. The girl in green quickly eyed up the pile of books, whilst walking, before suddenly stopping and coming back to the table, followed by her girlfriends.

- Did you write that? She asked, staring at me.

I nodded, giving her a commercial smile.

- Is that chick lit’?

I smiled again, this time amused.

- Not at all. Why would you think it is chick lit’?

- You look like someone who would write chick lit’, that’s all. So what is it about?

Her tone was slightly arrogant, as if she was forced to ask the question and was not really interested in hearing my answer.

- It’s about me, you, your girlfriends, and the past we have in common.

She frowned and smiled at the same time, then took one copy and read the summary on the back cover.

- Sounds like Criminal Minds, she continued, still reading. Oh I see… You say it’s about us because it talks about History, Hitler and the camps… Well, too geek for me!

I opened my mouth. Then closed it to prevent myself from saying anything inappropriate.

- How old are you? I just asked.

- 17 in a month. Anyway, I was looking for chick lit. Good luck!

She put the book back and left with her crowd.

I felt ill at ease. As if someone would have brutally erased this dirty page of our history. Deleting it instead of reading it again and again to the new generations.

I spent the rest of the afternoon with a bitter taste in my mouth, thinking of the inscription in Dachau concentration camp: “Never again”.

A few weeks later, my French editor forwarded me an email. The sender was a high school student who had just finished reading Block 46. She was explaining how, as a fan of the Stieg Larsson’s trilogy and profiling (Criminal Minds, was she specifying), she bought my novel, despite not really being “into WW2, the holocaust and all” as she put it. But, as soon as she turned the last page, she felt “ashamed”, she admitted; ashamed not to have known more about what really happened in Nazi concentrations camps: the torture, the inhumane life conditions, the atrocious diseases, the hunger, the despair, the constant waltz with Death.

As I was reading her message, the girl I met in Montpellier appeared in my mind; the girl in green. I decided to pretend it was her who wrote those lines, her who was ashamed for talking about the ordeal millions people went through as something which was “too geek” for her.


  1. I've heard of this book, and am much looking forward to reading it in due course.

    Flask Walk NW3, eh? I used to know it well. If I remember correctly (and if it's of any interest at all), Kingsley Amis used to live there.

    1. It's the next one up for me!

      I still haven't read Lucky Jim yet - been on the pile a while now!

  2. Thanks for sharing this story. It really is important that we never forget... Wishing you much success.

  3. The topic sounds like my kind of read, but I don't like serial killer novels. I will probably read it, and look forward to your review.

    1. Tracy, it seems to have a bit more than just a serial killer trope which is attractive to me.

  4. I really liked this author's blogpost, it was well-written and thought-provoking, and would incline me to try the book.

    1. Moira, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I'll let you know what I think in due course.