REVIEW: Keeper by Johana Gustawsson (Castells & Roy #2)

Series: Roy & Castells

Book Number: 2

Read this book for: historical connection, international mystery, serial killer, multiple investigative threads, female detective/protagonists

Quick Review: A fascinating mix of history, tense threads of multiple stories, and solid detective work; a great read.


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.

KEEPER is the second of Johana Gustawsson’s Roy & Castells series featuring Canadian behavioural analyst Emily Roy, and French true crime writer Alexis Castells. This intriguing pair is back for another adventure very much in the same vein as the first novel in the series — with no loss of tension, pacing, and historical connections.

This novel follows BLOCK 46 (click here to read the review) in the series, and takes a deeper look at some events in Castells’ past. I highly recommend reading BLOCK 46 before taking a look at KEEPER, as this novel drops you directly into the action without spending extra time on re-introducing characters.

The pacing is exquisitely crafted. Gustawsson strings tension all the way through, with the story moving at breakneck speed. There are enough twists and turns to make even the most die-hard thriller fan happy, as the story keeps changing all the way through to the end.

Not only does the pacing keep you turning pages, but the multiple plot threads keep you fascinated. Gustawsson blends a plot involving one of history’s most notorious serial killers, the dysfunction of a family through generations, and a current, cat-and-mouse investigation into a kidnaping into one cohesive story that makes you desperate for answers.

The story is made more compelling by its characters, and the cast of investigators including Roy and Castells grows this time to include more interesting characters. The investigative team has palpable comraderie, and we get a bit more insight into the backgrounds of both Roy and Castells. I’m looking forward to learning more about these two in future instalments.

Pick up KEEPER to enjoy a fast-paced, well-constructed thriller that will be impossible to put down once you start.

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