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The Sirens of Suspense

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THE ICE PRINCESS item1
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ALL HAIL THE SWEDISH CRIME QUEEN

At only 36, Camilla Läckberg is Sweden’s top selling author, and ranked 6th in all of Europe — outselling even John Grisham. An economist by trade, her first book, The Ice Princess (2003), was put to paper as a result of a crime writing course her husband and parents enrolled her in as a Christmas present. Now, she’s on her seventh book, The Lighthouse Keeper, and rights to her books have been sold to 30 countries, with over 5 million copies sold to date.

Finally, she’s come to America.

To be honest, this is not my normal fare, and when I first picked up the book, I was concerned that the publisher was jumping on the Stieg Larsson bandwagon — especially after learning that The Ice Princess was translated by Steven T. Murray, translator of the Millennium trilogy. I couldn’t have been more wrong. This is an amazing read. I began recommending it to friends before I was even halfway through, despite the challenge of summarizing the plot. The Ice Princess is full of twists, told from the point of view of many different complex characters, all with their own story arcs.  This is not a fast-paced read, especially for those of us who are not used to Swedish phrasing, but an intricately woven story where the main character is, in a sense, the town itself. Crafted beautifully, the slower style and detailed character history only enhances the narrative.

The Ice Princess is set in the small town of Fjällbacka on the west coast of Sweden, where Läckberg herself grew up. Erica Falck, a biographer facing an impending deadline, returns to the village to sort through the contents of her childhood home after the sudden death of her parents. On a walk through town, she goes to the aid of an older man who has run screaming from a nearby home. Erica investigates and discovers her childhood friend Alex dead — her wrists slashed and her body frozen in an ice-cold bath. It appears to be suicide. The grisly and unforeseen nature of Alex’s death makes Erica curious to know what happened to her beautiful friend since their childhood estrangement, and when the grieving parents ask her to write an article remembering Alex for a local newspaper, she begins to dig into the past.  Detective Patrik Hedström, another childhood friend, also senses that something about the death is not what it seems, and together they begin to uncover old secrets which many of the people in the small town would have preferred to remain buried.

I’m very eager not only to revisit the town of Fjällbacka with Erica and Patrick in The Preacher, but also to watch this naturally talented author hone her craft in the subsequent books.

 

If you liked The Ice Princess , you may also enjoy:

Åsa Larsson’s Rebecka Martinson novels

Louise Penny’s Three Pines mysteries

This review originally posted on The Poisoned Pen blog, read it and comment here:

http://poisonedpen.com/2011/all-hail-the-swedish-crime-queen/

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