Author Erica Falck has returned to her childhood home in Fjällbacka, a small Swedish fishing village, to write her next book and to put her deceased parents' affairs in order. Her self-constructed cocoon cracks one winter morning when she answers a neighbor's plea for help and thus discovers her childhood friend Alexandra floating in a bathtub of icy water, her wrists slit.
Although Erica and Alex parted ways when they were in seventh grade, Erica cannot stop thinking about her old chum and wondering what happened. Soon she is working with police detective Patrik Hedstrom to uncover the true circumstances behind Alex's death. As the pair begins to tease out the intricate, deep, and unlikely connections among the villagers, they start to see each other in a new light.
Camilla Läckberg's The Ice Princess (translated from the Swedish by Steven T. Murray) is a steady-paced, well-plotted murder mystery. Apparently small towns are the same all over (at least in novels), because there are plenty of secrets and hidden relationships in Fjällbacka for Erica and Patrik to discover.
Although you will likely come close to solving the mystery, you'll enjoy Läckberg's descriptions of village life and the way people deal with the northern winter. Erica's personal story offers both a light break to the bleakness of the crime as well as disturbing side plots. At the same time, Patrik and his fellow police officers each have a unique personality and are worth getting to know. This first in series will especially appeal to readers who like character-driven mysteries.
The Ice Princess was an Indie Next pick for July 2010. Here is a short interview (in English) with the author.
I listened to the unabridged audiobook (Highbridge; 15 hr, 8 min) read by David Thorn. I have no way of judging the authenticity of his accent, but to my untrained ears, Thorn's rhythms and pronunciations brought out the Swedish character of the novel. As I said in my review for AudioFile magazine, he easily handled both male and female voices. If more of Läckberg's novels are released in audio and read by Thorn, I will likely be listening.
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