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on 31 December 2011
I'd been put off buying any Camilla Läckberg books because of the amazingly polarised reviews of "The Ice Princess", the first in the series. One reviewer called her books "charity shop fodder," and lo and behold I found "The Ice Princess" in one. I'm pleased I did: the book isn't perfect but it's a very decent first novel, a bit of a mixture of Barbara Vine and Ruth Rendell herself, and of Thomas H. Cook (read him soon if you haven't found him already). As with these other authors, the plot's origins lie well back in the past, and as each onion layer is peeled off you learn a little bit more, until the whole dreadful truth is revealed. It's certainly very obviously the work of a woman (surely no man would write of the dangers of sitting on cold benches!), and true that the powerful amongst the men aren't very nice, but the women aren't perfect either, and I reckon the two sexes get about equal treatment by and large. And surely the reason that Eilart appears again at the very end is simply to show that a deserving husband can eventually get the beter of a ghastly wife ... it's just a PS from the author saying "hey, this isn't all one-way anti-male stuff, you know". I thought Steven T. Murray's translation was perfectly OK, if looking a little rushed in places, and yes, perhaps a little more editorial supervision would have made a better book ... but I'm going to get the next one direct from Amazon and read the whole series.
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on 28 May 2011
Alexandra Wijkner is found dead in her bath with her wrists slit. Initially it appears to be a case of suicide but soon it is discovered that she couldn't have killed herself.

Her childhood friend Erica Falck has returned to the area following the death of her parents and she is asked to write an obituary to Alex. However, the writing of this throws up some questions and Erica finds herself, along with Detective Patrik Hedstrom conducting their own investigations into the death.

This is a really well written novel, easy to read and introduces some good characters who are easy to like or dislike depending on who they are! It isn't a gory read but it is fairly gripping. I think my biggest complaint though is the lack of chapters...there are only 6 in the entire book!! I am looking forward to reading the next book by this Sweedish author
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on 3 July 2011
I'm astonished. I just finished "The Ice Princess" -- and clicked on on AmazonUK to order three more Camilla Lackberg books. I absolutely loved "Princess", thought it was well written, tightly plotted, interesting, unique and filled with little thought-provoking tidbits (eg, "The silence was something he couldn't take back.") Then -- just for the heck of it -- I decided to see how much everyone else had loved it too, so I came to read other reviews. I was astonished at the negativity! Really? Did we read the same book? Steven Murray, the translator? I found little if anything to criticize -- I live in Israel, and as one might assume, the cultural differences between Sweden and Israel are considerable. In spite of that, what I enjoyed so much about Ms Lackberg's book was that her characters were all people I knew, which is to say, I saw people I knew in them. They came across as real people. I've read Jo Nesbo, Karin Fossum, loved Henning Mankell until I decided for political reasons not to buy his books anymore. I liked those authors too, but the difference, I think, was in characterization. Nesbo's characters, as well as some of Fossums and certainly Mankells, tended toward the stereotype of silent and depressive Scandinavians, whereas Lackberg's seemed relatively normal. And calling this "chic lit"? Wow -- the ultimate insult, both to women and literature! I don't see anything trivially romantic, trite or "beach read" about this book at all. Well -- there you have it! At least we've given potential readers two very different opinions -- readers run hot or cold, not much in between.
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Erica Falck has returned to her home town of Fjällbacka to sort out the belongings of her parents who have recently died. But she is soon in the middle of the investigation into the death of her childhood friend, Alex, found frozen in her bathtub with her wrists slit. At first it looks like suicide, but it soon becomes clear that she was murdered. Alex and Erica had been very close as children but had grown apart as children do, and then Alex and her parents had left the town. So Erica feels personally involved in wanting to know what happened to Alex in the intervening years, and who would have a reason to kill her. The detective who's investigating the case, Patrik Hedström, is another friend from childhood, but when they meet again after all these years their relationship quickly becomes something more than friendship.

This is the first book in the Patrik Hedström and Erica Falck series. I'd previously read a later one, The Stranger, and enjoyed it a lot, so wanted to go back and read the books in order. Quite often the first book in a series can be disappointing as so much time has to be given over to character development, and authors sometimes take a couple of books to really get into their stride. But I didn't feel that at all in this case - this is an excellent debut, with a strong plot and with two main characters who very quickly become people the reader can like and care about.

Patrik and Erica's new found feelings for each other are handled beautifully. There's enough humour to stop it from being at all soppy and Läckberg makes the whole romance element quite straightforward - no bitter, vengeful ex-partner, no misunderstandings etc. The whole thing comes over as very natural and realistic and, because both characters are strong and attractive, the match feels like one that will last. I loved the way the viewpoint shifts between them so that we are able to see what each is thinking. At one point as Patrik is on his way to Erica's, we see her rushing about desperately changing clothes and re-doing her make-up in an attempt to achieve that carelessly casual natural look - and when he arrives the view shifts to him, and we see him being completely fooled by it and thinking she's one of these rare women who doesn't need to try. Lovely!

By contrast, the plot concerning the reasons for Alex's murder is quite dark, and there is a sub-plot concerning Erica's sister who is in an abusive marriage, so there's plenty of meat in the story. Although Erica does a little unofficial poking around, the bulk of the investigation is done as a police procedural. Fjällbacka is a tiny place, so the police aren't used to dealing with murders, and apart from Patrik most of them would rather not have their routines disrupted. So Patrik more or less takes the case over, and we see him as a dedicated officer without any tediously maverick tendencies. On the downside, Patrik's boss is drawn as the stereotypical incompetent bully in this book, though from memory that aspect seemed to be toned down quite a bit by the time of the later book that I read.

The translation by Steven T Murray is excellent - it doesn't read like a translation at all, and none of the touches of humour get lost. Well written, with two likeable leads characters and a great mix of light and shade in the plot, this one has left me looking forward eagerly to catching up with the rest of the series.
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`The Ice Princess' written by Camilla Läckberg is another title in a series of good crime novels that came from Scandinavia, the author's debut that does not offer a quick pace, but slowly and imperceptibly draw reader into the story until the very exciting end.

Prior to translation of `Isprinsessan' what is the original title of this novel published in Sweden in 2002, Camilla Läckberg was already very popular thriller author back home compared with Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell which is confirmed by her awards and recognition from the literary critics and the general audience.

In her debut work, Camilla Läckberg introduces us to the main character named Erica Falck who is a writer that returns to her home fishing village named Fjallbacka, in Sweden. The reason for Erica's return is to take care of the things because of the death of her parents. Erica is especially looking forward meeting with her best friend from youth, Alexandra Wijkner, but just before she will be back home Alexandra will be found dead, frozen in her bathtub and all indicates that she committed a suicide.

Although the two of them broke up contact two years ago and she is not familiar with all the details that have occurred in recent times, for Erica is still hard to believe that her friend decided on such way to end her life because Alex was a beautiful woman, being married to good and successful husband, living a comfortable and almost carefree life.

Besides their friendship that makes her to reveal more details, her professional instinct will be too strong therefore Erica will decide to write a work about what happened to Alex. Together with another common friend from the past, local detective Patrik Hedstrom, they two will begin with an investigation to discover all the details.

Soon they will discover that there is a lot of things which indicate that perhaps it was not a suicide that happens to Alex, and that a small fishing village beneath the surface hides many dark secrets that obviously influenced the fate of this unfortunate woman...

`The Ice Princess' is not a typical thriller that will make reader with its fast pace to constantly turn the pages in anticipation of what will happen, but slowly introduces the reader into the story by offering a quality slowly unraveling plot on this more than 400 pages long novel. Camilla Läckberg used a lot of psychological motives that may not appeal to everyone because sometimes the author sacrificed the action to clarify one's emotions, thinking or psychological state.

It seems that the author had not devoted equal attention to all her characters, because while some are extremely rich and multilayered characterized, some others are almost funny and on the verge of cartoons, seeming a bit unnecessary such as Erica sister - however, it can certainly be attributed to the debut work, and it will be interesting to read the following.

The only thing that is not in accordance with the level of quality of the rest of her work is description of the police work that makes it evident about this part the author has not done enough good research. As far as Erica is a natural talent, having a great detective nose, any serious police in the world would not allow such important omissions in the investigation.

It may be objected by some readers that the novel could be a bit shorter that would accelerate its pace and make it more interesting, but it is a personal opinion. In the form in which it is delivered to the reader `The Ice Princess' provides a well-made story, not so fast in pace, but with good plot and interesting outcome that will intrigue reader to look for other Camilla Läckberg's titles translated or in original.
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on 28 July 2013
I can't quite understand all this recent interest in Scandinavian crime writing and I've been really disappointed in the quality of the writing in the books I've read so far. The only one I would recommend to anyone would be Easy Money by Jans Lapidus which was well written and gave a real insight into current Scandinavian culture. I wasn't impressed by the work of Jo Nesbo or Asa Larsson.

However, without doubt, the book I have just finished, The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg is the most disappointing of the lot. It is, possibly, the worst book I have ever read! There is a plot of sorts and it does keep the reader interested in a superficial way, but everything else about the book is dreadful. The writing is almost childish and Lackberg feels the need to spell everything out, leaving nothing to the reader's imagination. The characterisation is thin and lacks any kind of depth or subtlety; the characters are just stereotypes. Every page is padded out with pointless, extra detail about the characters actions which add nothing to the readers understanding of the characters personality or motivation. There is absolutely nothing in the book which gives any kind of insight into the human condition or contemporary Swedish society. Perhaps this book has been badly translated, I can't think of any other excuse for such a badly written work of fiction.
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on 14 June 2010
The interest in Scandinavian crime novels seems to be increasing exponentially due largely to the Millenium-factor, perhaps?

I read an interview with Camilla Lackberg in the French press : the contrast between her apparently traditional lifestyle : small-town childhood, cop husband and children, and the subjects of her novels led me to look for her books in English. The Ice Princess, which might sound like a cliché title is actually a very appropriate one, describing the victim on many levels.

The style captivates your interest; the young female character, a former friend of the victim, is drawn willy-nilly into the circle of the stricken family, and incidentally makes contact with a an old school friend now a policeman involved in the investigation. As the gory and lurid details of the story unfold, they fall in love.

Naturally, there is a deep dark family secret which must be exposed in order to reach a satisfactory conclusion to the inquiry. And the ending holds a hint of future partnership in love and detection for the main characters.

Good descriptions of Stockholm and the changing face of picturesque coastal villages taken over by city slickers eager for a panoramic view.

A very good read
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`The Ice Princess' written by Camilla Läckberg is another title in a series of good crime novels that came from Scandinavia, the author's debut that does not offer a quick pace, but slowly and imperceptibly draw reader into the story until the very exciting end.

Prior to translation of `Isprinsessan' what is the original title of this novel published in Sweden in 2002, Camilla Läckberg was already very popular thriller author back home compared with Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell which is confirmed by her awards and recognition from the literary critics and the general audience.

In her debut work, Camilla Läckberg introduces us to the main character named Erica Falck who is a writer that returns to her home fishing village named Fjallbacka, in Sweden. The reason for Erica's return is to take care of the things because of the death of her parents. Erica is especially looking forward meeting with her best friend from youth, Alexandra Wijkner, but just before she will be back home Alexandra will be found dead, frozen in her bathtub and all indicates that she committed a suicide.

Although the two of them broke up contact two years ago and she is not familiar with all the details that have occurred in recent times, for Erica is still hard to believe that her friend decided on such way to end her life because Alex was a beautiful woman, being married to good and successful husband, living a comfortable and almost carefree life.

Besides their friendship that makes her to reveal more details, her professional instinct will be too strong therefore Erica will decide to write a work about what happened to Alex. Together with another common friend from the past, local detective Patrik Hedstrom, they two will begin with an investigation to discover all the details.

Soon they will discover that there is a lot of things which indicate that perhaps it was not a suicide that happens to Alex, and that a small fishing village beneath the surface hides many dark secrets that obviously influenced the fate of this unfortunate woman...

`The Ice Princess' is not a typical thriller that will make reader with its fast pace to constantly turn the pages in anticipation of what will happen, but slowly introduces the reader into the story by offering a quality slowly unraveling plot on this more than 400 pages long novel. Camilla Läckberg used a lot of psychological motives that may not appeal to everyone because sometimes the author sacrificed the action to clarify one's emotions, thinking or psychological state.

It seems that the author had not devoted equal attention to all her characters, because while some are extremely rich and multilayered characterized, some others are almost funny and on the verge of cartoons, seeming a bit unnecessary such as Erica sister - however, it can certainly be attributed to the debut work, and it will be interesting to read the following.

The only thing that is not in accordance with the level of quality of the rest of her work is description of the police work that makes it evident about this part the author has not done enough good research. As far as Erica is a natural talent, having a great detective nose, any serious police in the world would not allow such important omissions in the investigation.

It may be objected by some readers that the novel could be a bit shorter that would accelerate its pace and make it more interesting, but it is a personal opinion. In the form in which it is delivered to the reader `The Ice Princess' provides a well-made story, not so fast in pace, but with good plot and interesting outcome that will intrigue reader to look for other Camilla Läckberg's titles translated or in original.
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on 28 July 2014
Am I missing something? I tried this having seen enthusiastic reviews and found it utterly boring. According to my Kindle I have read 40% and I am still awaiting a spark of interest. Characters are two-dimensional, dialogue is banal, relationships unconvincing. A book I really can't wait to put down...
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on 29 May 2015
The actual mystery/police work in this book is fairly weak and amateurish but I liked both lead characters, Erika a Bridget Jones style writer and Patrick her policeman lover. Their developing relationship was believable. I also liked the other supporting characters – even if some of them were straight out of cliché alley – a useless police superior, a motherly secretary who conjours up vital information out of nowhere and an evil wife-beating husband.

But as for the mystery - how poor are the Swedish police? Are we supposed to believe that they wouldn’t have looked at the victim’s phone records to try to find who she meeting? But Erica just waltzes into her house, presses redial and discovers a guilty secret! Also, in a case of murder or possible suicide Patrik finds a note pad that was ignored by forensics and notices indentations of a very long note that explains certain things. This was almost like Famous Five policing. I also didn’t find the motivation of the killer to be credible.

I’m undecided on this series – I would need to read the next book before making a decision on whether to read the complete series.
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