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on 31 July 2017
This is the first Camilla Lackberg book I have read. Overall I enjoyed the story and found it not as gruesome as some other Swedish / Scandinavian crime stories I have read but I found some aspects of it irritating and a little unbelievable.
The story opens in winter with the discovery of the frozen body of a woman in the bath of her unheated house in the small fishing village of Fjällbacka, on the west coast of Sweden. Was it a suicide or was it murder?
We encounter quite a large number of characters quite early in the story and I found it necessary to create a list to help me keep track of who was who. This later proved very useful as the various threads of the story converged.
I did not find this book a particularly quick read. This was in part because the chapters are very long and within each chapter one has to keep track of a number of different threads to the story in case they are central to solving the crime.
The story spends some time relating the back story of the main characters, most of whom are quite plausible. However, I felt Superintendent Bertil Mellberg was rather cartoonish and I found the behaviour of its two main characters Erica Falck and Patrik Hedström at times quite mindboggling.
Another aspect I found irritating was the way the author would reveal the discovery of a clue but not tell you what the actual clue was until later in the story. As a budding armchair detective, I found this delay in revealing ‘evidence’ exasperating.
On the other hand, there are a number of positive aspects to this novel. The setting is very atmospheric, centring on location and time of year. The exploration of a number of different aspects of human behaviour covered in the story (such as family relationships, the importance of propriety in small communities, alcoholism, paedophilia, loneliness and romance) provide essential and interesting dimensions to the story.
If you enjoy police procedural novels then this story may disappoint as it does not really focus on how the police conduct their investigations. If you like fast paced, action stories then this story will fall short of expectations. However, if you enjoy atmospheric crime stories with a focus on the everyday lives of its characters and uncovering why people act the way they do, then you will probably find this story quite captivating, as I did.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 6 February 2015
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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on 18 December 2016
This is the first book in the Patrik and Erica series and a good debut novel. It's a classic psychological thriller set against the backdrop of a frozen Swedish winter.

The book starts with a suicide that is actually murder and we go far back in the life of the victim to learn of the history that led to her murder. The book is well written with plausible characters and the descriptions of the Swedish winter make you feel as if you're actually there.

We learn about how Patrik and Eruca meet and I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series and seeing how their relationship develops against the backdrop of further crimes.

As I inadvertently read book 5 first I know that Camila Lackberg's style develops and improves but this is a very good first novel..
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on 14 December 2015
This was as much of a romance as a a detective story, which I would not expect to be my preferred format, but this does help to lay the foundations for other books in the series. The characters of Erica Falck and Patrik Hedstrom are likeable and it Is satisfying to see how they become a team. However, Camilla Lackberg's method of allowing the reader to see that progress had been made, but not revealing the information immediately is rather clumsy and there is little emphasis on police procedural. You are asking why I have rated this book at 4 stars. I think the key to this is the characterisation of Erica and Patrik and there interplay with others in the story, their self doubts about the feasibility of their relationship, their consideration and empathy for others, Erica's tenacity in investigating a crime (which she should leave well alone - she is a biographer, not a member of the police force!), her affection and concern for her sister, Patrik's devotion to his job and determination even in the face of the opposition of his superior, who would wear down a lesser man. In other words, they are very real people, about whom the reader grows to care. It is also an immensely readable book - which kept me up into the night. I am very tempted to follow it up immediately with the next book in the series.
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on 29 August 2016
I really enjoyed this excellent story. It does have elements of a typical Scandi-Thriller, but is lighter and a little less complex than most, making it much more readable, enjoyable and compelling for that. There are some twists that make it a little more fun.

Erica is a little self-deprecating and amateur-sleuthish, rather out of writer's curiosity; the story is lighter (than Mankell); easier to follow (than Larsson); more vulnerable (than Child) and more homely (!) (than Flynn). And with Patrick, we all want him to be successful and happy too.

I really enjoyed Camilla Lackberg's book and as it is the first of the series, I will be seeking out the next one soon, if only to see how she manages to create another in the series where Patrick and Erica can work together and also how their relationship infields, for I think they will be stuck together from now on.
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on 24 December 2014
I packed this in at 34%. I found it quite boring, repetitive and gloomy and was getting to the stage I wasn't enjoying it. Parts confused me as well. A LOT of differing characters were brought in and then you had the odd cryptic comment about having met before and then nothing else is said which leaves you hanging.....then the odd mention too of Erica having seen Alex as an adult but not how or why and I just found it irritating. It probably becomes more clear later on if you've the patience to wait but I was already 140 pages in and just getting more baffled by it !!!
I found it quite tiresome the amount of times Erica bemoaned clearing out her parents' home. We were aware that's why she was there and we kept hearing about it ad nauseum. I was also pretty confused at the mention of "the prettiest hockey girlfriend on the west coast". I assume perhaps something got lost in translation and I even Googled the phrase and couldn't figure out where it fitted into this book !! The Patrik mentioned he wasn't looking at articles during work hours after he'd spent 6 hours doing JUST that !! I didn't get it and found it was annoying me way too much.
We have another Nordic translation that went for Americanised spelling as well, not sure why they all do that. There weren't any dubious grammar and spelling issues, though, which was good.
I usually love these Nordic writers and this is the first one I've packed in, I must say, but I won't be sticking with this particular series.
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on 8 April 2015
A new author for me and as a a taster I read the shorter stories first. I liked the straightforward writing, initially.

The Ice Princess began well establishing characters and plot but the wayward 'Barbara Cartland embarrassing intimate intrusions' from a strangely naive girly perspective... (about the middle of the story) just put me off. I skip-read these pages to continue with the main focus of the novel but it really spoiled an otherwise promising story. The writer appears relationship sexist and narrow minded and the part describing unnecessary 'knicker' detail etc was a bit Tracey Emin for a crime novel as it was superfluous to the plot.

Either it is a crime story or a potential slightly grubby romantic novel but not both at the same time.

Can anyone tell me if this ridiculous plot distraction appears in further novels?
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on 27 January 2014
Having never read anything by a modern Swedish author, I was looking forward to reading this, especially when I consider Sweden as my second home: my son lives and works there. But, I am sad to say I was disappointed. I note you are a well published author, and I might try other books of yours, but this one was not a pager-turner. I persevered and was half way into the book when it finally picked-up in pace, but the plot and the prose quickly became drawn-out again. I am 60% through the book and have had to put it down. I did find it jarring that your chapters were long, even though you had paragraph gaps. It might have faired better if you had considered the format, and put in in short, punchier chapters, with a hook at the end of each chapter. The hooks were missing in the long chapters and prose, and I think it was that that made the reading difficult for me. If you do happen to read this, I sincerely hope you will make comment, as your opinion would be appreciated. Otherwise your characters were well described, your writing and the story line, good.
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on 12 November 2013
I was rather disappointed by this book which I bought after reading reviews and recommendations. I thought it started really well and thought it was extremely promising. But somehow it lacked the depth and sparkle of some of her fellow Nordic novelists. Still it was a good and in depth storyline marshaled by some well drawn characters. Background stories were well developed and interesting. I think the letdown was that there were elements of the story that were a little too cliched but I suppose you have to say - what is there new to write about. I suppose that's why I like a writer like Nesbo who breathes new life in to the genre. Still I liked Ice Princess enough, I think, to purchase another Lackberg book as long as they are Kindle cheap!
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on 12 June 2018
This is probably one of the worst books I've ever read. It's a cross between a bad Mills & Boon and a diary of someone with an eating disorder. Weight watchers is a recurrent theme. Obsession about weight - menus of 3-course meals before we get to clothes hairdos etc. Oh yeah and there's a murder but that seems to get in the way of all this other stuff. The shame is that the storyline could have been great. A good idea but thin and as I say weighed down with contradictory statements and very over-detailed and cliched descriptions of all of the above. Scandi noir - I don't think so!
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