Thursday, November 01, 2018

Murder and Life Entangle Across Centuries, in KEEPER from Johanna Gustawsson

Reading the new title from the French crime fiction author Johanna Gustawsson requires fierce concentration -- because once again, as she did in Block 46, Gustawsson tells multiple tales in multiple voices, and at multiple times. So if you enjoy feeling challenged to keep track of all the clues and see how the motives and means interact, KEEPER is meant for you.

Often gruesome, yet focused more on character, as well as the character of the times, KEEPER provides an intimate look into the lives of the London women-of-the-street who suffered at the hands of Jack the Ripper, among many other brutal people of that time. Meanwhile, we follow the reconnection of profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells as their lives become way too closely tied to an unfolding police investigation of a now-imprisoned serial murderer and possible copy-cat crimes breaking out, including in Sweden.

Most urgently, a noted actress is missing, believed kidnapped -- and because we're shown her point of view, as well as her torturer, we can see the parallels to what's taken place before. Maxim Jakubowski provides a clean, smooth translation with power and elegance, as in this reflection from the victim:
Her throat feels like it is lined with thorns. Her mouth is bone dry and her tongue unbearably heavy. Beads of sweat moisten the back of her neck, her armpits and her upper lip. As if there were a direct connection between the water deserting the inside of her mouth and the moisture pearling on the outside of her body.
Fair warning: There's a touch of Hannibal Lecter in this one. And the final plot twist are harsh and sudden. You'll want to double check the door locks and keep a few extra lights on, as you read. If that's a fair deal, grab a copy -- the book's well written and powerful, and the suspense is brutal. Released in the US by Orenda, today.

PS:  Looking for more mystery reviews, from cozy to very dark? Browse the Kingdom Books mysteries review blog here.

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