Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson, Trans.: David Warriner

Book blurb

Spain, 1938: 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.

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…

Terrifying, vivid and recounted at breakneck speed, Blood Song is not only a riveting thriller and an examination of corruption in the fertility industry, but a shocking reminder of the atrocities of Spain’s dictatorship, in the latest, stunning installment in the award-winning Roy & Castells series.

My thoughts

This is a stunning book, incredibly well translated into English by David Warriner, that brings to life an appalling and dark period of Spanish history along with the struggles couples have who are unable to have children and a murder investigation.

Set in 1938 and 2016 across Europe from London to Falkenberg to Madrid Johana Gustawsson pens a heart rending story that left me amazed at the things humans do to each other, what so many have had to bear and the resilience that so many have managed under such circumstances.

Johana Gustawsson has brought a story to us which many, like myself, will have not heard before about what happened to those individuals who were against Franco, their families, most particularly those of the children. Then she takes this and goes on to tell how such atrocities impact those individuals. It will leave you reeling, numb and both disgusted and amazed at this human race that can be so contradictory, so evil, so wonderful.

The sympathetic way in which the story is written enables you to continue to read. Bringing together the different strands of the story into a whole, being able to write a story and bring the historical element and the struggle of those who wish to become parents, I have to say I’m with Alexis on that, into the modern day murder investigation is done so incredibly well.

The characters from each era are beautifully drawn and whilst there are several that are quite despicable there are so many to admire including Teresa, Gordi, Emily, Alexis and Aliénor.

This is a book which will linger long in the memory. I believe it should have a wide audience as this is exactly the sort of book that goes beyond any particular genre not only to appeal to readers but to enlighten them and I hope that it gets the credit, in my opinion, that it deserves.

Blog Tour

My thanks to Anne at RandomThingsTours for the invite to this amazing BlogTour and to the publishers Orenda Books for an eCopy of Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson. There are lot’s of terrific stops to take a look at…


Publisher: Orenda Books

Buy: Orenda Books AmazonSmileUK Waterstones


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, including Block 46, Keeper and, soon to be published, Blood Song, 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.



It was a pleasure to meet Johana, very briefly, at the Orenda Roadshow when she kindly signed my copy of Keeper

Translator: David Warriner translates from French and nurtures a healthy passion for Franco, Nordic and British crime fiction. Growing up in deepest Yorkshire, he developed incurable Francophilia at an early age. Emerging from Oxford with a modern languages degree, he narrowly escaped the graduate rat race by hopping on a plane to Canada – and never looked back. More than a decade into a high-powered commercial translation career, he listened to his heart and turned his hand again to the delicate art of literary translation. David has lived in France and Quebec, and now calls beautiful British Columbia home.

Follow David on Twitter @givemeawave and on his website:

One Comment on “Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson, Trans.: David Warriner


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