The Ice Princess
Book 1, Patrick Hedstrom and Erica Falck
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The gripping psychological thriller debut of the No.1 international bestselling Swedish crime sensation Camilla Lackberg.
Returning to her hometown after the funeral of her parents, writer Erica Falck finds a community on the brink of tragedy. The death of her childhood friend, Alex, is just the beginning. Her wrists slashed, her body frozen in an ice cold bath, it seems that she has taken her own life.
Erica conceives a memoir about the beautiful but remote Alex, one that will answer questions about their lost friendship. While her interest grows to an obsession, local detective Patrik Hedstrom is following his own suspicions about the case. But it is only when they start working together that the truth begins to emerge about the small town with a deeply disturbing past.
Praise for The Ice Princess:
‘Heart-stopping and heart-warming, ‘The Ice Princess’ is a masterclass in Scandinavian crime writing’ Val McDermid
‘Another top-class Scandinavian crime writer reaches the British market’ The Times
‘Chilly, deceptive and lucid, just like the icy environment it describes’ Literary Review
‘Camilla Lackberg is a more than welcome addition to the growing ranks of Scandinavian crime writers translated into English. With its sharp emotional nuances and psychological insight, ‘The Ice Princess’ builds in suspense as the author turns her clear eye on the buried secrets and contemporary relationships of a small, isolated community. I predict that Fjallbacka and its crimes and people will soon be as poplular here as they are in her native Sweden’ Peter Robinson
About the author
Born in 1974, Camilla Lackberg graduated from Gothenburg University of Economics, before moving to Stockholm where she worked for a few years as an economist. However, a course in creative crime writing became the trigger to a drastic change of career. Her first four novels all became Swedish No 1 bestsellers. She lives in a suburb of Stockholm.
The ice princess
I didn't guess the murderer for quiet sometime which I greatly enjoyed.
The Ice Princess
Several years ago a dear Swedish friend of mine gave me a copy of this book in Swedish when departing home after six months of working in Australia. I never did get around to reading more than just a few pages, but a couple of months ago iTunes offered a special deal on selected Scandinavian crime fiction offerings, and I decided to buy the book in English.
The title refers to Alexandra, a beautiful (and secretly pregnant) woman who is found dead with her wrists slashed in a bathtub in the middle of winter in a Swedish seaside town. The tortured alcoholic artist for whom she was a muse likens her dead body to an “ice princess”. Each chapter of the book starts with an elegiac preface from the perspective of this man who hovers between creation and self-destruction. He is at one stage wrongly accused of the murder and is later found dead himself; it is initially speculated at the hands of the same killer but this turns out to be another twist in the tale.
This book does not have chapters in the traditional sense, as they are small in number and some are frustratingly long, especially when you are thinking “I will just finish this chapter before turning the light out and going to sleep”. The first chapter was long and contains frenetic character and scene changes. There is an introduction to many protagonists, some named, some not, and one has the feeling that all these people will in some way be important to the resolution of the storyline. It appears to be a story about secrets, and piecing together the tale that the dead cannot tell.
The second chapter was not so long but continued ‘setting the scene’ and introduced a couple more less likeable characters and a twenty-five year old mystery disappearance of the scion of a local wealthy industrial family, which somehow seems linked to the murder. In the next three chapters we see a darker side to some of the characters as well as a blossoming romance between the heroine Erica and Patrik, one of the detectives investigating the case. The intensity of grief of the cuckolded husband seems to rule him out and the artist is exonerated, but we begin to wonder about various other males that we have been introduced to, including Erica’s abusive and manipulative brother-in-law, her ex-boyfriend Dan and the adoptive brother of the missing scion. Secrets concerning these three men are gradually revealed. There is a strained relationship between the the widow of the industrialist and mother of the dead artist, the widow’s former maid. A mysterious relationship is also revealed between the widow and Julia, the plain sister of the dead woman. Minor characters come and go, some more beguiling than others, including Patrik’s colleague Annika, and Dan’s wife Pernilla is seen to possess unsettling wrathful qualities.
The author hints that relevant clues are being collected by Erica and Patrik, but ‘the big picture’ is not yet clear. There is concern raised about the possibility of harm to Erica if she keeps digging into the matter, but dig she will as she has been commissioned to write a biography about the deceased woman.
Although it would be unsporting to reveal the denouement of the book, all the loose ends are wrapped up in the final sixty pages or so. Patrik, Erica and her sister Anna and her children all have a shot at future happiness. A deep and dark complicity between five of the main characters is revealed along with the truth about the shadows hanging over Alexandra. Surprising secrets are revealed concerning Julia and the identity and motive of the killer. To my great relief, the heroine was not threatened with any harm and thus there were no implausible escapes (such as in Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl Who Played With Fire”).
Unlike television shows, which typically have an “A” story and a “B’ story in each episode, crime writers seem to delight in packing in as many different convoluted story lines as possible. This book is no exception. It is cleverly done, and enough detail is withheld to keep you guessing until the very end. It would not win a Pulitzer prize for fiction, but is a pleasant enough diversion despite its erratic organisation and perhaps a little too much space devoted to vignettes of peripheral characters.
I loved getting to know the characters in the book then the twists & turns as the story unfolds. The descriptions are photographic but also brief and t o the point - no skipping paragraphs here! Can't wait to read the next instalment for Patrik and Erica.