The Ice Princess, Camilla Läckberg, Free Press, 2011
Erica Falck, a single writer of a certain age, is sorting out her parent's estate and temporarily living in her childhood home in the picturesque fishing village of Fjällbacka when she inadvertently finds herself involved in a murder mystery. Her estranged, girlhood friend Alex has been found dead - wrists slashed, and frozen- in her bathtub. Drawn in by compassion, curiosity, old ties, and writerly instinct, she begins to investigate the circumstances of Alex's death. Over the course of the novel, we meet a host of characters: Anders, Alex's alcoholic artist and lover; Henrik, her clueless husband; Julia, her odd sister; Nelly Lorentz, the local social doyenne; Vera Nilsson, Nelly's embittered housekeeper; and Patrik Hedström, the sincere and loyal policeman who becomes Erica's investigative and romantic partner. But under the surface of this small, seemingly tight-knit community, residents harbor longstanding grudges and hide family secrets.
The novel starts off a little heavy on background, but the rythym and pace of the story quickly pick up as the characters develop and the point of view begins to rotate among them. I really liked Erica and Patrik and their blossoming romance, and the collection of secondary characters and their storylines as well. Läckberg brings the reader along in the journey toward the solution, deftly wrapping it up with just the right amount of surprise.
Because the author and setting are Swedish, readers will likely be tempted to compare The Ice Princess to Stieg Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. I truly loved that trilogy, but I think comparisons will do a disservice to The Ice Princess. The Ice Princess is more mystery than thriller; it is not nearly as graphic or brutal as TGWTDT is in some of its scenes, and is generally less intense and dramatic. The Ice Princess is about small town intimacy, and the story is as much about the relationships between the characters as about the crime itself. There is no purely evil arch-nemesis in The Ice Princess - only characters who are damaged or have struggled with pain, and who have made poor choices.
The Ice Princess is a very intriguing and satisfying mystery, recommended for crime/mystery lovers.
A complimentary copy of The Ice Princess was provided to me by FreePress books. All opinions expressed in this review are mine alone. Other bloggers participating in The Ice Princess blog tour are invited to leave links to their reviews in the comments below.