Keeper by Johana Gustawsson (tr. Maxim Jakubowski) #BookReview #BlogTour

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. 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.

I'm thrilled to be hosting the blog tour for Keeper by Johana Gustawsson today. Many thanks to Johana, Karen Sullivan from Orenda Books and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my copy of the book.
I've been looking forward to reading Johana Gustawsson's second book ever since I reached the end of her superlative debut, Block 46 last year. The first Emily Roy and Alexis Castells Investiga…

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton #BookReview #BlogTour




Juliette loves Nate. She will follow him anywhere. She's even become a flight attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him.

They are meant to be.

The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing. Because Juliette has a plan to win him back. She is the perfect girlfriend. And she'll make sure no one stops her from getting exactly what she wants.

True love hurts, but Juliette knows it's worth all the pain...

I am thrilled to be today's destination for the Around the Bloggerverse in 31 Days Tour for The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton. Many thanks to the author, Wildfire Books and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.
The story of a spurned lover desperate to exact their revenge is not a new one, it was in 1697 that William Congreve wrote "Heav'n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn'd, Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn'd."  Juliette isn't seeking revenge from Nate however, she is convinced they are destined to be together and her single-minded drive to achieve what she believes to be rightly hers is arguably more terrifying than if she'd been looking to make him pay.
That's not to say she isn't vengeful, as the book progresses we learn that her plans come not just from a twisted idea of love, her past has left her with an unfinished need to punish those who shebelieves wronged her.
The book is narrated in the first person by Juliette - or Elizabeth as she was originally named. Known as Lily by Nate, she has taken to using her middle name as the first step in her bid to win him back and to simplify matters it's the name I'll refer to her by in this review. Juliette is manipulative, tenacious and bold and as such she is very difficult to like. She can be kind and thoughtful, she is praised by passengers for her caring attitude and she is capable of forming friendships although she is quick to discard friends if she considers they have wronged her or are no longer useful. It's this juxtaposition between the Juliette that others perceive her to be and the inner unhinged plotter that readers are given an insight into, that makes for such a chilling read.
The Perfect Girlfriend isn't a fast paced thriller, instead the action is allowed to unfold steadily which serves to increase the menacing sense of tension that imbues the whole book. There are the more dramatic scenes but there isn't the shocking twist that features in many psychological thrillers, instead it's the sheer relentlessness of Juliette's plan and her absolute belief that she will succeed that makes The Perfect Girlfriend so unsettling. When things don't go her way she may become angry and lose control for a while but she quickly regains her composure - as twisted as it may be - and reassesses  what she needs to do to achieve her aims. As I said, she isn't a character that readers will warm to and actually most will actively dislike her and yet she is utterly compelling. I didn't want to see her succeed but I needed to know just what she would do next and this really says a lot for Karen Hamilton's assured skill in writing this novel. To feature an anti-hero who at best readers will pity is a brave move but it really works here, I was horrified by the brazenness of some of Juliette's activities but I couldn't tear my eyes from the page even if I almost wanted to read through my fingers as I waited to see what else she would do. The other characters in the book are also flawed and not especially sympathetic although to suggest they deserve Juliette's deranged attentions wouldn't be fair.
Karen Hamilton was  formerly a flight attendant herself and it shows, the airline scenes are fascinating and completely believable. The changes in location and time zones means the novel has a  constant sense of movement that keeps the novel feeling fresh but also gives it a claustrophobic feeling; Nate really can't escape from Juliette's clutches, she is convinced they belong together and she deserves to be with him  - and she will go to the ends of the earth to make sure it happens.
Juliette's tragic past and her current all encompassing obsession with achieving what she believes is her destiny, coupled with a deep seated desire for revenge means the subject matter here is undoubtedly dark. However, the short, snappy dialogue and black humour gives the novel a lightness of touch that ensures it never becomes too dark or oppressive. There's a delicious sense of anticipation waiting to see just what perverse wickedness Juliette is capable of next. Obviously I'm not going to give away the ending but I can say that I loved it and thought it was the fitting - perfect even - conclusion to The Perfect Girlfriend, an exhilarating trip into one woman's unwavering worldwide quest for her happy ending. The Perfect Girlfriend certainly reaches the heights when it comes to gripping psychological thrillers, this is one novelist who is definitely firing on all cylinders and this, her maiden voyage is a complete success.

The Perfect Girlfriend is published by Wildfire Books, it is available now as an ebook and will be available in hardcover on 22nd March 2018. It can be purchased or pre-ordered here.

Don't forget to join the rest of the Around the Bloggerverse in 31 Days tour, details are below.


About the Author

Karen Hamilton spent her childhood in Angola, Zimbabwe, Belgium and Italy, and developed a love of travel through moving around so much. This led her to a career as a flight attendant, and it was in the air that she thought of the idea for her debut thirller THE PERFECT GIRLFRIEND, which aims to explore not only obsession, but also the true faces behind those who go to work in uniform. Karen is a recent graduate of the Faber Academy, and has now put down roots in Hampshire to raise her young family with her husband. 

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the fabulous Blog Tour support Karen x

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