Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Keeper by Johana Gustawsson

By Johana Gustawsson
Translated by Maxim Jakubowski
Published by Orenda Books (e-book - 15 Feb 2018; paperback - 28 April 2018)

Publisher's description
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. 

My verdict
As with Johana Gustawsson's previous book, Block 46, Keeper prompted me to email the publisher Orenda Books with the phrase 'OMG' not long after I had turned the final page.

I have to admit that initially when I started reading Keeper, I thought: 'This is going to be OK this time. My blood pressure isn’t going to rise. I'm not going to be stunned, shocked and speechless by the end'.

But oh how wrong I was!

Keeper left me not only shocked, stunned and speechless but also in need of a very alcoholic drink.

Johana Gustawsson certainly isn't afraid to tackle shocking issues and leave her readers reeling. She puts her 'all' into her books. Her gorgeous writing is amazing, immersive and addictive, and it’s hard to believe that this is a translation (by Maxim Jakubowski). I couldn't stop reading, totally engrossed from the first page, as the book took me on a twisty rollercoaster ride.

I’m not going to reveal anything about the book itself, as I feel it’s better to go in blind, knowing nothing (or very little) about the characters or the plot. There are some familiar ‘faces’ from Block 46, such as profiler Emily Roy and true crime writer Alexis Castells, but this book works exceptionally well as a standalone.

I will say that from the start the book is split into three main threads (London 2015, Sweden 2015 and London 1888), which all gradually twine together until they become one. You will just have to read the book to find out why and how, just as I did. Be prepared for some graphic scenes that may make you wince or cringe, others that may make you smile and a few that may make you exclaim out loud.

I know I'll be raving about Keeper just as much as I raved about Block 46 last year. And I already expect this to be one of my top reads of 2018. I can’t wait to see how Johana Gustawsson will shock me with her next book. Now there’s a challenge!

If you haven't read my review of Block 46, you can find it here.

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