In all my years of reading I have never, to my knowledge, read a book by a Scandinavian author. Now I can put a tick mark next to "done that"! I just finished reading "The Ice Princess" by Camilla Lackberg. It was excellent.
I hit the local library fairly often, going through the front racks grabbing 5 - 10 books at a time that look interesting. "The Ice Princess" cover caught my attention along with catch phrases (for me) like "crime novel", "ingenious", "suspense", and "superb" on the back cover.
It wasn't my first choice in the stack I brought home, but it was the best. I'm glad I didn't read it first as the rest paled in comparison!
I didn't know I was reading a book by a Scandinavian author until after I started reading the book. I make it a point not to read the inside jacket description as I want to get my own feel for the book, pick up the plot thread on my own. I also don't look at maps or the list of characters if they happen to appear in the book. I paint my own pictures as I read, create my own maps. I know I'm not going to remember the list of characters or their connections if they're given at the front of the book, so why waste my time? A good author will connect the dots in my mind as I read.
By not looking at the map, which was rather hard to overlook now that I'm looking at the book again, I had no clue which country the tale was set until I was a few pages into the book. At that point I was already hooked. In fact, Lackberg caught me completely on the first page. Perfect! The fact that it was set in Sweden was a plus, something new.
The story revolves around Erica Falck who returns to her home after the death of her parents only to become enmeshed in the hunt for the person who killed her childhood friend. You'll meet Erica's sister and see life through her eyes, experiencing fear, frustration, hope, and maybe a bit of anger. You'll enjoy the tiptoeing experience of new love, more realistic than one typically finds in murder mysteries. You'll find yourself trying to connect the dots to solve the murder as you become a part of a small town and get to know a few of the inhabitants who have some dark secrets.
Lackberg paints excellent pictures. She builds connections, takes you into the scene and the mind of the characters. She teases with small tidbits of information that take you to that "ah ha" conclusion at just the perfect point in the story. Although the book was translated from Swedish into English, it flowed very well and was easy to read. Translator Steven T. Murray deserves kudos for a job well done, too.
Lackberg gives you a glimpse into another culture while imparting excellent insights into the human psyche... mostly the weaker, selfish side. Amidst the sadness, the murder, the ruined lives in her book she weaves hope, and shows a the better side of our nature, too.
She wraps things up nicely at the end. While she doesn't leave any loose ends, she leaves you wondering about the future of many of her characters.
Camilla Lackberg is an author that is now on my list of "will look for" authors. I think this is a book that I'll go back and read again at a later date.
The Ice Princess
Translated by Steven T. Murray
Pegasus Books, Copyright 2010