The Ice Princess, by Camilla Läckberg

Well, I know that there have been many truly wonderful Nordic authors writing in the crime genre long before Stieg Larsson came on the scene, but in many ways we owe him a great deal for raising its profile so magnificently, and for helping North Americans think outside of the Hollywood-style crime box, so to speak.

It’s refreshing to read a story written from the perspective of a different world view and to gain insight from someone with first-hand knowledge of a country’s customs, language and politics.

The Ice Princess is Camilla Läckberg’s first novel in a five-book series. All her writing is set in Fjallbäcka in Sweden, familiar territory for Läckberg, as she grew up there. The story centers around Erica Falck, a writer also with a past in Fjallbäcka. She has returned to the small seaside town to sort things out at the family home after the death of her parents. Whilst there, she unwittingly becomes involved in the investigation of the death of her long-ago school friend, Alex Wijkner, found frozen in the bath with her wrists slashed. The initial police investigation uncovers that her death was not the result of suicide, but of murder.

As Erica delves deeper into the story and crosses paths with an old friend and local detective, Patrik Hedstrom, they both soon discover that solving the crime proves anything but easy. Small community mentalities render saving face amongst gossiping residents paramount, with controversy and secrets being buried deeply at whatever cost.

Läckberg provides us with plenty of intrigue as we play the guessing game of who-did-it throughout this novel, and there are plenty of side-plots to keep things interesting. The romance between Erica and Patrik, and the histories of the two characters, is engaging, along with the lives of the town’s people themselves and Erica’s sister.

And if you enjoy this novel or are looking for some other Nordic authors to read, try these Swedes: Henning Mankell, Liza Marklund, and Kerstin Ekman. From Norway, Jo Nesbø is very popular, and from Iceland, Arnaldur Indriðason is an old hand. Finnish author, Leena Lehtolainen has also written several novels, and from Denmark, Jussi Adler-Olsen is another tried and true author.


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