Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson. It’s historical fiction combined with fact and then topped off with an intriguing murder plot.
Born in Marseille, France, and with a degree in Political Science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French and Spanish press and television. Her critically acclaimed Roy & Castells series has won the Plume d’Argent, Balai de la découverte, Balai d’Or and Prix Marseillais du Polar awards, and is now published in nineteen countries. A TV adaptation is currently underway in a French, Swedish and UK co-production. Johana lives in London with her Swedish husband and their three sons. She drew on her own experience of fertility clinics and IVF to write Blood Song and is happy to speak and write pieces about this.
About the book
Profiler Emily Roy joins forces with Aliénor and her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells, and they soon find themselves on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer, in an investigation that takes them from the Swedish fertility clinics of the present day back to the terror of Franco’s rule, and the horrifying events that took place in Spanish orphanages under its rule…
The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Teresa witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Teresa gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her.
Falkenberg, Sweden, 2016 A wealthy family is found savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Discovering that her parents have been slaughtered, Aliénor Lindbergh, a new recruit to the UK’s Scotland Yard, rushes back to Sweden and finds her hometown rocked by the massacre.Review
One of the things I really enjoy about books by Gustawsson, is the way she melds historical fact and fiction and then brings the plot into the present. It’s almost as if the stories she creates were meant to be and to be told. They feel realistic and evoke visceral reactions, despite the more gruesome elements of the stories.
There are many atrocities that took place in the 20th century – it’s fair to say that The Holocaust overshadows everything else, perhaps because of the methodical planning and execution. The author brings the atrocity that was the Francoist dictatorship in Spain to the table in this story. The methodical war of attrition cost many hundreds of thousands their lives and many fled the regime entirely. Many thousands that fled were returned to Spain be killed and also interned in Nazi concentration camps where thousands of Spaniards also died.
In this story the reader goes from the past in Spain and the repercussions of said regime on a family – to the present where the team has to deal with an extreme tragedy that involves one of their own.
I think the details are best left to readers to experience. The one thing I do want to mention is the spectacular way the author addressed the family dynamic when dealing with a child with special needs or on the spectrum. It was brutally honest. Honest in a way nobody wants to approach the topic for fear people will judge their very real emotions and opinions.
It’s historical fiction combined with fact and then topped off with an intriguing murder plot. As per usual Gustawsson proves what an incredibly gifted writer, storyteller and meticulous plotter she is, which is brought to the table in all its original glory by the translator. Kudos to Gustawsson for the incredible read.