book cover of The Ice Princess
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The Ice Princess

(2008)
(The first book in the Patrik Hedstrom series)
A novel by

 
 
Now that Scandinavian crime fiction is very firmly on the map (along with much other crime in translation), it has become clear to readers that Henning Mankel -- the Trojan horse for the breakthrough of Swedish crime writers -- was only the tip of the iceberg. Now readers in Britain and America are starting to discover that there are other writers of real accomplishment out there. And a name that will soon be on many lips is that of Camilla Leckberg -- already a very well-known name in her native Sweden, with five novels under her belt. The first to reach these shores, however, is The Ice Princess -- and its phenomenal success in Sweden looks set to be replicated over here. Leckberg has been described as Sweden's new Agatha Christie, and although there is some truth in the description, it doesn't tell the whole story. We have a Christie-like provincial village (here, Fjällbacka, in which Leckberg herself was born) and a variety of suspects for a very unpleasant murder. Also Christie-like is the machine-tooled precision of the plot, but Leckberg is very much a contemporary writer, offering a picture of modern society that is as penetrating as her narrative is involving.

The writer Erica Falck has returned to her home town on the death of her parents, but discovers the community in turmoil. A close childhood friend, Alex, has been found dead. Her wrists have been slashed, and her body is frozen solid in a bath that has turned to ice. Erica decides to write a memoir about the charismatic but withdrawn Alex, more as a means of overcoming her own writer's block than solving the mystery of Alex's death. But Erica finds that her interest in Alex is becoming almost obsessive. She begins to work with local detective Patrik Hedstrom, and the duo soon find that some unpleasant secrets are buried beneath the comfortable surface of the town.

On the evidence of this first book of Leckberg's to be translated, we have yet another authoritative crime writer from abroad to add to an ever-growing list. Let's hope translations of her successive novels follow quickly. --Barry Forshaw

Genre: Mystery

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