Publisher: Gyldendal, 2008 (first published in Sweden by Bokförlaget Forum, 2004)
Page count: 368 pages
“The ice princess” is Camilla Läckberg’s first crime novel. It is set in Fjällbacka, a sleepy Swedish fishing village that now survives on tourism during the summer months. Erica Falck is a writer from Stockholm who returns to Fjällbacka to clear out her parents’ old home after they die in a car crash. One day she is out walking, Erica meets a frantic old fisherman who has just discovered a dead woman in a summer house he is looking after. Erica enters the house and discovers none other than Alexandra Wijkner, her old childhood friend, dead in the bathtub. Alex has apparently slit her wrists and committed suicide. After the police has arrived, Erica visits Alex’s parents and husband, who all refuse to believe that Alex killed herself. This is confirmed when the coroner discovers great amounts of barbituates in Alex’s blood: a killer is on the loose in tiny Fjällbacka.
Despite Erica not having seen Alex for 25 years, Alex’s parents ask her to write an obituary of Alex’s life. Erica reluctantly accepts the task, but is soon intrigued by Alex’s seemingly perfect yet highly secretive life. Why did Alex end their friendship so suddenly all those years ago? Who was the father of Alex’s unborn child? Why did Alex spend so much time with Anders, the local painter and alcoholic, when they moved in widely different social circles? And is there a connection between Alex’s murder and the disappearance of Nils Lorentz, son of the local factory owner, which took place more than 25 years ago?
Erica’s research into Alex’s past soon brings her into contact with Patrik Hedström, the local policeman investigating the murder. Erica and Patrik are old classmates and soon enter into a romantic relationship. Together they start unravelling Alex’s life piece by piece, a journey that will uncover many secrets that Fjällbacka had rather remained buried…
This is a superb crime novel. With a multitude of layers and new twists to the story when you least expect it, “The ice princess” has an unpredictable yet fully believable plot that makes it the kind of book you must read in a single sitting. The author further did a great job with the setting and personalities so that I could easily visualise both the local community and the characters very well with all their human flaws, emotions and mishaps. An impressive debut – I can’t wait to read the next one!