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THE ICE PRINCESS by Camilla Lackberg: Book Review

Back I go again to snowy, cold Sweden.  Don’t they commit murder in Sweden during the summer?

Be that as it may, The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg will surely chill your blood, regardless of the season in which you read it.

The novel takes place in the present time, but the source of the crimes goes back a quarter of a century. When Erica Falck returns to her hometown of Fjallbacka after her parents’ death, she is immediately confronted by the death of her girlhood friend, Alex.  Alex’s body was found frozen, with her wrists cut, in the bathtub of her home.

Alex is a woman who seems to have everything. The successful co-owner of an art gallery, she is a woman who has beauty, brains, and a very wealthy husband who adores her.  But what was bringing her from her sumptuous home in Stockholm to her former hometown of Fjallbacka nearly every weekend?  Her husband, who knew that his love for her greatly exceeded her love for him, was too fearful to ask questions; better to deal with the uncertainty than to end their marriage.

Erica, a successful writer of famous Swedish women’s biographies, is asked by Alex’s parents to write a eulogy for their daughter.  They are convinced that she would never have killed herself.  According to Alex’s father, “she didn’t have the inner strength.”  And it turns out her parents were right.

Erica is reluctant.  She protests that she and Alex were friends a long time ago and hadn’t had any contact in the intervening years.  But that opens up the question that has bothered Erica all this time–what made Alex drop out of Erica’s life and made her family pick up and leave in the middle of the school year without a word to anyone? 

Various other threads run through The Ice Princess. Erica’s younger sister, Anna, is trapped in an abusive marriage that she doesn’t seem to have the strength to leave.  Anders, the town’s brilliant painter and also its local drunkard, continues to waste his life and his talent.  And then there’s the twenty-five year old mysterious disappearance of the son of the town’s richest family–he was a teacher at the local elementary school and was simply gone one day.  Did he commit a crime and flee?  Was he murdered?  Did his despicable mother and/or his arrogant adopted brother have anything to do with his disappearance?

On the lighter side of this dark novel is the burgeoning romance between Erica and another childhood friend, Patrik Hedstrom, who is now a member of the town’s police force.  In love with Erica since they were children, Patrik can hardly believe his good luck at her interest in him now.

According to the book’s jacket, Camilla Lackberg is the author of four #1 best-sellers in her native country. With her stunning prose and her insights into small town life and its citizens, it’s easy to see why.

You can read more about Camilla Lackberg at her web site.

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