Keeper by Johana Gustawsson Orenda Books April 28th 2018
Whitechapel, 1888: London is bowed under Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror.
London 2015: actress Julianne Bell is abducted in a case similar to the terrible Tower Hamlets murders of some ten years earlier, and harking back to the Ripper killings of a century before. Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015: a woman’s body is found mutilated in a forest, her wounds identical to those of the Tower Hamlets victims. With the man arrested for the Tower Hamlets crimes already locked up, do the new killings mean he has a dangerous accomplice, or is a copy-cat serial killer on the loose? Profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells again find themselves drawn into an intriguing case, with personal links that turn their world upside down…
I have to put my hands up and admit that I have not read Block 46, the first book in the Roy and Castell’s series so I was not quite sure what to expect. I did wonder if I would have missed out on any vital information regarding Emily Roy and Alexis Castells but I needn’t have worried as although it would have been helpful it wasn’t essential.
Gustawsson’s two main protagonists, Emily Roy and Alexis Castells are fascinating characters. Castells, is more emotional, more open, easier to understand and certainly more likeable than Roy. Castells is a woman damaged by past events and her involvement in a new spate of killings opens up old wounds. Roy on the other hand seemed almost like a closed book, hard nosed, practical and business like. I got the impression that it was her coping mechanism, the only way she could deal with the horrors of the cases she became involved with. What they both had in common and what I liked about them is their tenaciousness, their need and desire to discover all the answers, not only for themselves but also for others.
They are a myriad of other characters each with their own part to play, be it as a member of the investigation team or one of those being investigated. Some had deep dark secrets and you were never sure who you could believe and this is one of the reasons why I so enjoyed this novel.
What was particularly impressive was Gustawsson’s ability to weave together two timelines, and two stories from 1800’s London to present day and the effortless way in which she switched between London and Sweden. I felt a huge sense of foreboding and horror as slowly I began to make connections, to see how it might end, what the conclusions would be.
It is a long time since I have a read a book with so many twists and turns. From the discovery of the first body, Gustawsson did not allow me to draw breath, and the final twist is one that I never expected or even had any clue about.
Some of the scenes and indeed a few of the themes are described in graphic detail, but it was never misplaced, never out of context. It was a crucial element that Gustawsson used to great effect to explore a characters actions, to show the devastation someone’s background can have on them in later life.
It is a novel I will not forget in a hurry. It is a page turning and electrifying read that I absolutely loved and I cannot wait for the next installment of Roy and Castell’s.
My thanks to Orenda Books and Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to take part in the blogtour for Keeper
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. Her debut, Block 46, was an award-winning, international bestseller, with Keeper following suit. She is working on the next book in the Roy & Castells series.
My thanks to Orenda Books and Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to take part in the blogtour for Keeper.
There are lots of other wonderful bloggers taking part in the Keeper blogtour, make sure you take a look!