- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (March 29, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1451621744
- ISBN-13: 978-1451621747
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 482 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #279,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Ice Princess: A Novel Paperback – March 29, 2011
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“Masterful suspense…. Läckberg combines her gift for intriguingly complicated plots and her keen understanding of even the 'grotesques' who live among us. Both erotic and terrifying. I couldn't sift the killer(s) from the suspects although I read obsessively. An absolute must for mystery lovers!” (Ann Rule, author of In the Still of the Night)
About the Author
Camilla Läckberg worked as an economist in Stockholm until a course in creative writing triggered a drastic career change. She is now one of the most profitable native authors in Swedish history. Her novels have sold worldwide in thirty-five countries. She lives with her husband and children in a quaint suburb of Stockholm.
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There was the main plot thread, the murder of the requisitely Beautiful and Remote Woman, and another supposed murder of a Poor, Drunk, Damaged Soul who knew the woman. Mixed in were sub plots of parental neglect, sibling rivalry, spousal abuse, and other over-used tropes. As a result, I found it difficult to concentrate with all this whiplash going on between past, present, and everyone's angst. The only light point was the interaction between Patrik and Erika, although that seemed rather sophomoric.
At the end, I also thought the motivation for the murder was a real stretch, and rather unsatisfactory for the investment of my time. I'd seen this particular trope before in Stieg Larsson's work, where it was far better done with multi-layered characters whose thoughts and actions made sense.
This book was not a waste of time, nor was it poorly written. I simply found it simplistic in style, content, and execution. It is the first in the series, so I might give the next one a go and see if it works better for me.
All in all, a good page turner and quick read, for a time you want a bit of a whodunnit without having to think about it a whole lot, but just want to sit back and enjoy the many twists and turns. Not enough for 5 stars, but deserving of a decent rating anyway.
People complain that she didn't let the reader in on some clues immediately and broke some sort of crime novel rule, but that didn't bug me either, because she did a good job revealing facts when necessary without jumping ahead too quickly. Just because you're allowed into a character's perspective, doesn't give you the right as a reader to know everything that character knows. An author has the right to unfold things as they see fit, however they choose to drive a story forward.
I actually think this makes it worth reading a second time at a more leisurely pace, knowing what you know and being able to appreciate the details and care that went into this book.
The “ice princess” of the title is the victim, Alex Wijkner, a beautiful but cold and enigmatic young woman married to a highly successful businessman. As a child, Alex and a local writer named Ericka Falck were inseparable — until Alex and her family suddenly and inexplicably disappeared when Alex was ten. Recently, however, Alex has begun turning up in town on weekends. Ericka is overcome with curiosity about the murder, and when Alex’s family presses her into writing a book about Alex, she picks up an excuse to insert herself into the investigation. That brings her into contact with Patrik, and soon love is in the air.
A fascinating cast of characters
As the investigation proceeds on two often independent tracks — Patrik’s and Ericka’s — the seamy side of life in Fjallbacka comes into view. Other characters, many of them murder suspects, hove into view. There is the wealthy family that owns the cannery where so many townspeople work: Nelly Lorentz, the matriarch; Jan, the adopted son who runs the company; and Nils, the older son who disappeared suddenly many years earlier. Also in the picture are Anders Nilsson, a brilliant painter who is the town drunk, and his mother, a housekeeper for the Lorentz family; Dan and Pernilla, Ericka’s old fling and his suspicious wife; and Henrik Wijkner, the victim’s husband, who seems strangely unaffected by his wife’s death. Every one of these characters is clearly delineated and believable.
A love story against an icy background
Meanwhile, Patrik and Ericka circle cautiously around each other, each of them terrified that the other doesn’t reciprocate their feelings. In some ways, the halting, nervous way that the two protagonists deal with each other is the strongest aspect of this novel. These two, both of them in their late 30s, act like nervous teenagers. It’s amusing and a little unsettling. At the same time, Ericka’s younger sister struggles with the abusive husband she adamantly refuses to leave. While these two dramatically different love stories are in the background, their robustness and credibility elevate The Ice Princess into the realm of literature.
Looking into the author’s mind
Novelists sometimes betray their innermost thoughts when they’re writing. Lackberg does that often. For example, she writes “It was people — their relationships and psychological motivations — that she was interested in; she thought that was something most crime novels had to give up in favor of bloody murders and cold shivers running down the spine. She hated all the cliches they used; she wanted to write about something that was genuine.” Amen to that!
About the author
Camilla Lackberg has written eight novels in her Fjallbacka series. (Just in case you care: there are two dots above that first “a.”) Fjallbacka is the small Swedish coastal town where she was born. Like The Ice Princess, the first in the series, all feature Patrik Hedstrom and Ericka Falck, the detective and the mystery writer who collaborate on solving mysteries in town. According to a note at the end of The Ice Princess, her “first six novels have all become #1 bestsellers in Sweden, and she is the most profitable native author in Swedish history.”