Queen of French Noir, Johana Gustawsson returns with the first in a startling new series – a dark, horrifying, powerful historical thriller with an extraordinary mystery at its heart and three women pushed so far beyond breaking point, they have only one way out…
‘Gustawsson’s writing is so vivid, it’s electrifying. Utterly compelling’ Peter James
1899, Belle Époque Paris. Lucienne’s two daughters are believed dead when her mansion burns to the ground, but she is certain that her girls are still alive and embarks on a journey into the depths of the spiritualist community to find them.
1949, Post-War Québec. Teenager Lina’s father has died in the French Resistance, and as she struggles to fit in at school, her mother introduces her to an elderly woman at the asylum where she works, changing Lina’s life in the darkest way imaginable.
2002, Quebec. A former schoolteacher is accused of brutally stabbing her husband – a famous university professor – to death. Detective Maxine Grant, who has recently lost her own husband and is parenting a teenager and a new baby single-handedly, takes on the investigation.
Under enormous personal pressure, Maxine makes a series of macabre discoveries that link directly to historical cases involving black magic and murder, secret societies and spiritism … and women at breaking point, who will stop at nothing to protect the ones they love…
Praise for Johana Gustawsson
***Longlisted for the CWA International Dagger***
Historical sections highlight, in distressing detail, the atrocious treatment of mothers-to-be in Franco’s Spain … A satisfying, full-fat mystery’ The Times
‘Assured telling of a complex story’ Sunday Times
‘A real page-turner, I loved it’ Martina Cole
‘Dark, oppressive and bloody, but it’s also thought-provoking, compelling and very moving’ Metro
‘A bold and intelligent read’ Laura Wilson, Guardian
‘Utterly compelling’ Woman’s Own
‘Cleverly plotted, simply excellent’ Ragnar Jónasson
‘A must-read’ Daily Express
‘Bold and audacious’ R. J. Ellory
’A great serial-killer thriller with a nice twist … first rate’ James Oswald
‘Her sleuths tracking a monstrous killer, transporting us from modern-day fertility clinics in Sweden to the abuses of Spanish orphanages under the brutal rule of General Franco … a truly European thriller’ Financial Times
‘Gritty, bone-chilling, and harrowing – it’s not for the faint of heart, and not to be missed’ Crime by the Book
‘A relentless heart-stopping masterpiece, filled with nightmarish situations that will keep you awake long into the dark nights of winter’ New York Journal of Books
‘Emotional and atmospheric’ New Books Magazine
‘I don’t think there’s a crime writer who writes with such intelligence, darkness and deep sadness as Johana Gustawsson’ Louise Beech
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