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.
Hi and welcome to FromBelgiumWithBookLove where I have for you today a review of Keeper by Johana Gustawsson!
Keeper is the second instalment in the Roy and Castells series, find my review of Block 46, the first instalment, here. Keeper is composed in much the same way as Block 46: there’s a historic part, a present-day part in England and a present-day part in Sweden. Instead of visiting fairly recent history like we did in Block 46 when we went back to WWII, we go back in time a bit further, and visit Jack the Ripper in 1888. Say the name and you automatically think of gruesome murders, and that, my friends, is Keeper in a teeny tiny nutshell: gruesome murders, not only at the end of the 19th century but also in this 21st one. To make it a tad more gruesome, we’re even faced with cannibalism. Yep, you read that correctly *shudder* I’ll tell you more: the opening chapter tells us all about the delights of lobes and mash! LOBES AND MASH! (And parsley, let’s not forget the parsley.) Dear lord, the tone is set right from the start! So yes, Keeper is the darkest noir, let there be no mistake about that, but somehow it stays on the right side of that fine, easily crossable line between deliciously dark and cheap gore. This is up-scale murder and cannibalism, this is gruesome done right.
Of course, Keeper is so much more than that, I’d be selling it short if I only told you about that part of the novel. Once again, Johana weaves an intricate tale, allowing the tentacles of the past to reach well into the present. Keeper is a jigsaw puzzle with a million little pieces and right up until the end you’re convinced they’ll never fit, you’ll never be able to find the picture that’s on the box, but then suddenly they all start falling into place and it’s glorious!
I had one hell of a time with Emily and Alexis on their second outing. I got to find out a little more about them, and it was fun to revisit all the supporting characters too, with a special shout-out to Alexis’s mum, who I simply adore, probably because she reminds me a little of my own mum: loving and caring but slightly overbearing. Johana sets a very dark board, and some of the players are a lot darker than they seem at first. Still, there is comic relief to be had as well, some tongue-in-cheek comments that had me laughing out loud.
I had listened to the first instalment and returning to the same narrators (Mark Meadows and Patricia Rodriguez) for Keeper was an auditory pleasure. Mind, it’s not the easiest novel to listen to because of its intricateness.
Highly recommended in whatever format, Keeper is a brilliant book from a brilliant author, and I can’t wait to find out what Johana comes up with next! Luckily, Blood Song a.k.a. book 3 in the Roy and Castells series, is already waiting for me, and I’ll be going in very soon! You can find all three books in the Orenda Books eBookstore or you can (pre-)order the paperbacks / audiobooks from retailers such as Amazon.
Check out this video for an excerpt from Keeper!