I hadn’t heard of Camilla Läckberg before my Mum recommended I try this book, but I have since discovered that she is the second biggest selling author in Sweden and the sixth highest selling in Europe, so it seemed that it was well worth a try.
The Ice Princess is set in winter in Sweden; the perfect setting for any creepy novel. Läckberg takes the time to ensure that the weather and the country are almost characters in themselves, with references to the ice and cold littering the story, hampering the character’s plans and adding to the atmosphere.
In the freezing cold, a woman is found dead in a bath of ice with her wrists slit. That woman is Alex Carlgren-Wijkner; a beautiful but private individual who has lived her life shrouded in mystery, even to her own husband. When her childhood friend, Erica Falck, passes the scene she quickly becomes entwined in the case.
Erica was best friends with Alex until she was around 10 years old. Since then, she has become a successful writer of biographies and on discovering the mysterious death of her friend the writer in her can’t help but see a story in her old friend’s misfortune. As she begins to learn about the woman her childhood friend became, she learns that there’s much more to this suicide than meets the eye.
Alongside this, we meet Detective Patrik Hedstrom, the detective assigned to the mysterious case of Alex’s death. He happens to have always been in love with Erica, and as the two come together to solve the crime, romance soon begins to blossom. Now I don’t mind romance within a crime novel, if it’s done well, but this relationship was really overdone for me. The characters spend a lot of time near the beginning of the novel desperately throwing everything out of their wardrobes like lovestruck teenagers, searching for the right outfit for that special date. As their relationship develops, they spend less time hunting through clothes, but more time ‘jumping’ on each other, and after that famous ‘five times’ night, surely they’re not going to be feeling at their freshest for the investigation? Yes this relationship did annoy me, and began to detract from the mystery to some extent, although I do appreciate the fact that she created real, relatable, three-dimensional characters. As these characters are carried through throughout the series of novels, perhaps she did need to spend more time on their back stories in this initial introductory story.
Another annoying habit this author has is having her characters discover vital clues, and not telling the reader what they are. At the end of multiple chapters, Erica or Patrick would discover a vital piece of information scrawled on a piece of paper, reflect how this changes everything, and then put it in their pocket to pull out later while the reader is crying “Show me! Show me!”.
Once the clues did begin to be revealed things did make more sense, and despite its flaws I thought the plot for The Ice Princess was fantastic. Without giving away too much, it involves a conceited aristocratic family, an alcoholic failed artist and deep, dark secrets which date back to the characters’ childhoods. It is complex, and yet all comes together neatly with no loose ends, and because of this it’s easy to see that Läckberg is a talented crime writer. I just hope that she spends a little less time on her characters’ love lives in the following novels.