11 January 2011

Review: The Ice Princess by Camilla Läckberg

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.

The Ice Princess at Powell's
The Ice Princess at Book Depository
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Published by Pegasus, 2010
ISBN-13: 9781605980928
YTD: 5
Source: Review (see review policy)
Rating: C+

Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Violet 1/11/11, 6:41 AM  

I prefer character-driven mysteries and I have never read one set in a Swedish village or in Sweden for that matter.

On another note, the author is so pretty :)

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 1/11/11, 6:54 AM  

This sounds like a terrific mystery. I jotted down the title some time ago and then removed it from my list. Back on it goes LOL. Thanks so much

serendipity_viv 1/11/11, 7:33 AM  

Fabulous. The cover is enchanting. Plus being a big fan of Tove Jansson this really appeals to my need for more Swedish settings. Reminds me a little of Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow.

Sandy Nawrot 1/11/11, 8:06 AM  

Did someone mention Smilla? That is one of my favorite mystery thrillers ever (at least in my mind, although I read it ten years ago). You can have a "normal" mystery, but if you effectively add an atmosphere, it makes it stand out. I'll have to see if the library has this one.

Beth Kephart 1/11/11, 9:20 AM  

You should have a NYT column on audio books. Just saying.

Jenn's Bookshelves 1/11/11, 9:34 AM  

Ooh! Another Swedish mystery! Adding it to my TBR list!

Barbara 1/11/11, 10:14 AM  

Since I've been hearing about this novel and the interview shows that this author is enchanting, I'll be looking for this book. I hadn't gotten into Swedish mysteries as yet - time I did.

Anonymous,  1/11/11, 10:26 AM  

Swedish mysteries are really the think right now, huh? I haven't read any of them. I've watched a couple Wallender's on PBS and I'm not sure what I think yet. This may be the one to get me started.

Zibilee 1/11/11, 10:40 AM  

I agree with the other posters who mentioned that Swedish crime novels are big right now after the success of the Millennium series. It sounds like this one has a lot going for it, and I really enjoy thrillers that are more character driven than plot driven. It sounds like this is a book that I need to try to get my hands on. Fantastic review, Beth! I am going to check it out!

caite 1/11/11, 11:01 AM  

love that interview.
she and I share that it was Agatha Christie that first awoke our love of murder mysteries..and when I pluck this one out of my TBR pile, I hope she succeeds in her ambition to keep me awake all night reading it.

BookGeek 1/11/11, 11:01 AM  

I'll be honest, I don't read too many mysteries or crime-thrillers, despite all the hype. But the intriguing thing about this one is (as others have said) the character driven plot. I love getting that close to someone through pages of a book.

Dorte H 1/11/11, 11:18 AM  

I think it is so funny that American & British readers talk about ´Swedish mysteries´ as if Läckberg and Stieg Larsson had a lot in common. In my opinion they are more or less opposites when it comes to Swedish crime: Larsson´s city with pizzas, car chases & conspiracies and Läckberg´s village with old secrets & lots of cinnamon buns :D

Joy Weese Moll 1/11/11, 11:18 AM  

Sounds great! I love the observation that small towns are the same all over.

Zee 1/11/11, 11:38 AM  

I really must read Läckberg they really do sound really good.

Anonymous,  1/11/11, 12:24 PM  

I did enjoy this book even though I thought the storytelling was a bit patchy. Here is my review: http://manoflabook.com/wp/?p=29


Jen - devourer of books 1/11/11, 1:46 PM  

Ooh, this sounds fabulous. I'll see if I can find it in print or audio.

Lisa@ButteryBooks 1/11/11, 2:14 PM  

I love audiobooks read in an accent...it really helps immerse me in the book.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 1/11/11, 2:22 PM  

I'm with Beth Kephart -- break out of the blog and into a NYT audiobook column :)

Re: your review. SO nice to know that you'll trust the narrator/reader for another book; they can really make or break the experience.

Julie P. 1/11/11, 2:26 PM  

I think I want to give this one a try.

Lisa (Southern Girl Reads) 1/11/11, 2:35 PM  

Sounds like a great story and one I'd really enjoy. I'm adding this to my wishlist.

Anonymous,  1/11/11, 3:51 PM  

Thanks for highlighting this book. I have a copy, but haven't gotten around to it yet and right now it is packed away. Loved the interview and thanks for making that available too.

Eva 1/11/11, 5:59 PM  

Love the cover! This sounds great: I've been in the mood for mysteries and Scandinavia. :D

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) 1/11/11, 6:30 PM  

I love the cover on this, and I debated buying it every time I was in the bookstore. But it seems like it might have just been okay?

Shelly B 1/11/11, 9:33 PM  

I am becoming a big fan of audiobooks, and you're right, the narrator totally makes or breaks the book!

Jenners 1/13/11, 8:46 PM  

What is it with all these Swedish books lately? Thanks to Steig Larsson, it seems like we're all being treated to such great finds from that country.

Alice 1/19/11, 5:19 AM  

You've just given me another author to consider reading. Thanks! I still need to read that first Larrson book. I have all of them.

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