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The Ice Princess    by Camilla Läckberg order for
Ice Princess
by Camilla Läckberg
Order:  USA  Can
Pegasus, 2010 (2008)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Ice Princess (a Swedish bestseller translated by Steven T. Murray) is the first of seven novels by Camilla Läckberg, set in the Swedish fishing village/resort town of Fjällbacka. The story is told by writer Erica Falck who has returned to her childhood home on the death of her parents to sort out their effects and work on her latest biography.

Erica's quiet existence in Fjällbacka is interrupted by the discovery of the corpse of Alexandra Wijkner, who had been a close childhood friend until the family unexpectedly moved away and the connection abruptly ended. At first it seems that Alex killed herself, but the coroner rules murder. Erica is inspired to write a novel based on the death, despite misgivings about family reactions, and starts to dig into her friend's background. Erica is also disturbed by her sister's pressure to sell the family home, and by the influence her controlling brother-in-law Lucas is exerting.

Though the Fjällbacka police chief, Superintendent Mellberg, has been transferred there because of his incompetence - and continues to exhibit it at every opportunity, starting with the arrest of someone who turns out to have an alibi - one of his subordinates, Patrik Hedström, digs into the case. Though married and divorced, Patrik has had a crush on Erica since he was ten and 'trying to pull her pigtails.' The renewal of their relationship balances the past horrors that they uncover as the case develops, as well as flashbacks from someone who seems very close to the murder.

Camilla Läckberg's The Ice Princess is a masterfully written police procedural that portrays the damage, rippling down through the years, that is caused by the cover-up of an original crime. I particularly enjoyed a subplot concerning a charming old fisherman's plan to escape his harridan of a wife and enjoy his old age in a warm climate. It's good to know that there are so many more in this gripping series waiting to be translated.

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