Review: The Ice Princess

Title: The Ice Princess
Author: Camilla Lackberg
Format: Paperback

The Premise: The Ice Princess, by Camilla Läckberg, is a Swedish mystery set in the small town of Fjällbacka. When the apparent suicide of a successful woman turns out to be murder, one of her childhood friends and a police detective team up to solve the murder and discover its connection to the twenty-five year old of a local man.

The Verdict: Despite some debut-novel blunders and the predictability of its plot twists, Läckberg’s wonderful characterization and skillful use of POV manage to carry the story, and The Ice Princess is a solid and engaging, albeit not groundbreaking, start to a series.

The Rating:  4/5

The Meh Bits:

  • Predictable plot. If you enjoy mystery stories, you’ll figure out several of the plot twists well in advance.
  • Hiding clues from the reader: Läckberg often has her POV characters read shocking clues on old bits of newspaper or notes from the bin; however, she doesn’t let on what these clues actually are for twenty or fifty pages. I suppose it’s meant to be suspenseful, but it came off as a cheap, irritating gimmick.

The Good Bits:

  • Likable protagonists: Erica, a nonfiction writer dealing with her parents’ recent death and a distant sister and Patrick, a detective bored in a sleepy town, are a refreshing change from the spunky amateur or the jaded investigator that haunt the mystery genre. Läckberg acknowledges their age and doesn’t shy away from showing their foibles (from worrying about sucking in their stomachs when flirting to getting cranky after missing sleep), and the result is a pair of incredibly human characters whom it is impossible to dislike.
  • Shifting POV: Läckberg switches POV from chapter to chapter, often shining a new light on a situation by looking at it through a minor character’s eyes. Not only do all of Lackberg’s characters get a chance to shine, they all get their own arc (even if a small one), and this deft touch at humanizing even the villains makes the book a delight.
  • Tone: Läckberg’s novel is not a cozy. The tone is colder and the book deals with some pretty dark subject matter, including domestic violence. However, The Ice Princess is considerably warmer than any of Stieg Larsson or Henning Mankell’s novels. Not only are its protagonists personable and their romance sweet without being saccharine, the ending, while not overtly happy, is a bit optimistic and doesn’t leave the reader morbidly depressed.

The Rec: I would recommend The Ice Princess to readers who want a mystery that’s dark without descending into bleakness. Fans of Julia Spencer-Fleming’s Clare Fergusson & Russ van Alstyne series in particular might enjoy this novel.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Top Ten Tuesdays : Top 10 Summer TBR Picks | in the land of the dragons

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