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(3.5 stars) As readers of Camilla Lackberg's previous novel, The Ice Princess, have discovered, Fjallbacka, Sweden, a small fishing village in western Sweden, holds many secrets, some of them involving murder. Chief Investigator Patrik Englund is enjoying a much-needed vacation when he learns that a six-year-old has discovered a woman's naked and beaten body near a ravine. Underneath that body are the skeletons of two more women who disappeared in 1979. Autopsies prove that all three had been slowly tortured over the course of many days before merciful death interceded. Through flashbacks to 1979, when the first deaths occurred, the story develops into a murderous saga which may involve the Hult family, whose family patriarch, Ephraim Hult, was a highly successful evangelical preacher, and whose two sons Johannes and Gabriel had supernatural healing powers when they were children. Ephraim is now dead, and his sons are enemies as a result of Ephraim's will.

The author spends as much time on the lives and motivations of her characters as she does on plot development, and when yet another young girl disappears from town, Patrik and his crew (which also has their own frictions and rivalries) realize they may have a chance to find her before she dies of the same tortures which were inflicted on the previous young women. Dozens of complications, which are revealed through the family backgrounds, psychology, and interactions of the police officers, the victims, and the various members of the Hult family keep the tension high as Lackberg involves the whole community in a wide assortment of clues and red herrings.

Although the dialogue is often wooden and clichéd, the author's emphasis on characters and why they behave as they do give a depth to this novel that straight action-mysteries do not usually have. Flashbacks in italics inserted throughout the present day action reveal the thoughts of an imprisoned female victim from 1979, held in a cold dark place, as she tries to cope with another day of torture. Blackmail, revenge, an obsession with power, seething resentments spawned by injustice, and love and passion are all motivating forces which one sees here through the various characters. There are, however, many implausibilities in the plot. A number of characters, some of them repeating, add little to the story line except diversion. Erika's sister's problems, a big part of The Ice Princess, for example, continue here as a distraction, and the late addition of the character of Kennedy Karlsson, with his unusual background, seems to be a convenient way out of a messy plot issue.

It is easy, however, to see why Camilla Lackberg is the best selling author in Swedish history, outselling even Stieg Larsson in number of books sold: She has written nine #1 sellers in Sweden, good escape novels (of which the Ice Princess is #1 and this is #2) that keep the reader entertained, involved in the action, and willingly "suspending disbelief" throughout. Two more of her pop novels are already being translated for the US market (by Steven T. Murray, translator of the Stieg Larsson books and those by Henning Mankell), and one would hope that her later novels will show her increasing growth as a novelist. Mary Whipple

The Ice Princess: A Novel
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"The Preacher" is Swedish author Camilla Lackberg's second police procedural mystery, and I have to say that I preferred her first, "The Ice Princess". In this follow-up novel,also set in the Swedish coastal town of Fjallbacka, a female German tourist's body is found atop two skeletons which turn out to be the remains of two young women who went missing in 1979. Patrik Hedstrom, the policeman who helped crack the murder case in "The Ice Princess" returns in this second novel with a much more prominent role. He is now married to Erica, the author from the first novel who played a major role in solving the murder in "The Ice Princess". Though it isn't necessary to read "The Ice Princess" before this second novel, there is quite a bit of background information provided in the first novel about some of the recurring characters such as Erica, Patrik, and Erica's sister Anna. Patrik is put in charge of the investigation, and as the investigators dig deeper, they find that all clues point to the Hult family, comprising patriarch Gabriel, his wife Liane, children Linda and Jacob, and also Gabriel's estranged nephews Robert and Stefan and their mother Solveig. When another young girl goes missing, Patrik and his team find themselves racing against the clock to locate the girl, even as they find themselves faced with dead ends and false clues.

"The Preacher" is quite weak in comparison to "The Ice Princess" - firstly, I was disappointed that Erica does not play a major role in this investigation. Instead she is relegated to playing the expectant mom and wife who has to deal with pesky relatives invading her home during the hot summer months. In "The Ice Princess", Erica played a very important role in the murder investigation and I had come to genuinely like her character so it was underwhelming to see her character take a backseat to Patrik's role as chief investigator in this second installment. Though Patrik is a likable enough character, he lacks the charisma of other major characters in series such as Inspector Sejer in Karin Fossum's novels which are far superior than Ms. Lackberg's novels (the quality of writing, characterization, etc). The story itself could have benefited from better editing, it tends to plod at many points in the novel, and some story arcs could have been omitted. One in particular is the story about Anna, Erica's sister - her domestic problems continue in this second novel, but prove to be more of a distraction and annoyance than an engaging story arc. Final verdict - "The Preacher" is not as engaging as "The Ice Princess", and there are other Scandinavian mystery authors whose works I find more interesting, such as Karin Fossum, Johan Theorin, Arnaldur Indridasson, Henning Mankell, Steig Larssen, etc.
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on June 27, 2011
very good book..fine follow up after the princess...many story lines going on the same time..after two books you feel like you belong in the city and can relate to all the different side stories9get rid of sisters husband, please....I HOPE CAMILLA CONTINUES DEVELOPING ALL THE SECONDARDARY PLOTS..THANK YOU FOR WRITING AN ENJOYABE SERIES...CJC
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on May 1, 2011
I enjoyed reading the Ice Princess thought sometimes long winded. When I started reading The Preacher I was shocked by the quality of the translation, It is primary school English combined with a lack of feeling for the book. Therefore it is hard to say if it is the translators fault that the storyline is uneven and unfinished or if Lackbers original lacked so much substance that the translator had a hard time reading through the novel. Lackberg is trying hard to establish several characters in her book with their own drama. This may create a longer novel but the main character Patrik Hedestroem becomes a second grade detective and the experienced crime reader will find so many holes in the plot that he /she will think twice before purchasing another Lackberg novel.
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on May 12, 2011
I liked the Ice Princess, but this sequel is just bad. The good guys are all doormats; I wanted to shake them. And the plot is the most convoluted and ridiculous one I've read in a long time.

Add to that the unbelievably poor editing of the Kindle edition. Words dropped, run together. I highlighted over 300 before my fingers got tired.
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on September 3, 2010
"The Preacher" (Predikanten) is the second of Camilla Läckberg's mystery novels. I haven't read the first one, The Ice Princess, but that didn't cause any trouble for me as this works as a standalone novel.

A young girl is found murdered together with the remains of two young girls who were reported missing 24 years ago and never found. Patrik, a local police, tries to find the murderer and figure out the connection between the murder and the previous disappearances. Meanwhile, his wife Erica is at home, pregnant, and there's quite a lot of focus on their family life and especially a subplot involving Erica's sister Anne's problems with the men in her life that takes a bit too much focus off the main plot, the murder mystery, without adding anything to the novel. It's still a decent mystery novel with a well constructed mystery, although I can think of some minor plot holes that I won't go into so as not to spoil anything.

The Preacher is a readable but not great mystery novel. 3 stars.
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on June 26, 2011
This story was actually quite good, comparable with The Ice Princess. However, if a publisher is going to the trouble of translating a work from Swedish to English, they ought to make some attempt to get a competent translator. There is also no evidence that there was any proofreading. This coupled with the lousy e- book formatting make this book almost unreadable. The author should think seriously of firing the editor/publisher of this work.
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on May 7, 2011
This is an appallingly badly edited book-- a disgrace,actually. Anyone buying the Kindle version deserves refund. Words are run together in almost every sentence, or left out entirely. The translation is very crude, but the biggest problem is the incredibly flawed text. This is a botched book in every sense-- it's not even readable. Don't purchase this travesty!
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on July 2, 2011
I bought this book after reading a fairly glowing review in the Washington Post. Midway through The Preacher, I looked up the review again, thinking it could not have been as positive as I remembered but - no, the reviewer was in fact quite taken by this author. I thought the plot was good but the quality of the writing -- and perhaps this was affected by the translation - was weak and a poor vehicle for the better storyline. And for pity's sake, did anyone bother to edit? Practically every other page revealed sentences with words dropped. I read this on Kindle and wondered if the hard copy was as replete with these text errors as the digital edition.
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on July 31, 2015
The characters and plot were too confusing. Perhaps it was the way the book was written. I do not read a book like this straight through without stopping. I read some then put it down and pick it up a day or two later and continue reading. I could not remember which character was who nor what was happening. I had to go back and reread some of the book before I left off. I felt like I needed to take notes and make a chart of the characters and who was related to who. This could also have been partially due to the foreign names of the characters to which I could not relate.
So for me the book was ok, but I was not excited about it. Confusing names, confusing plot and an unlikely ending. It was if as though the author had to really stretch to make this story believable.
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