Wednesday, October 06, 2010

#48 - The Ice Princess

I probably should have blogged about this earlier in the week as I actually read this book a while ago. Having read all of the Larsson's, I needed a little bit of that Swedish mystery one week while I had umpteen doctors appointments. Mystery/popular fiction is very good crowded waiting room reading, isn't it? So, I downloaded the first book of Camilla Läckberg's incredibly popular series of set in Fjällbacka.

A beautiful young woman ends up dead, the so-named "Ice Princess" of the book's title, and Erica Falck, a writer trying to come to terms with the death of her parents, finds herself embroiled in the investigation. Everywhere she turns, she's connected to the murder -- the deceased was her best childhood friend, the family leans on her for support, her love interest is the lead investigator, and multiple other coincidences stick her to the case like glue. Unlike my favourite writer-slash-Swedish-crime-thriller-hero, Blomkvist, Erica writes mainly biographies. She's a woman's writer -- chronicling their lives for mid-list biographies. There's not a political edge to these mysteries; they're more straightforward, and interspersed are more personal details about Erica's life: her abused sister, her blundering love life, her male best friend. There's an element of romance novel in this book, and it kind of softened the hard-edges that I'm used to by reading Larsson and/or Henning Mankell.

That doesn't mean that this novel is ultimately successful -- certainly not to the level of the Millennium trilogy, but Läckberg has a talent with description and setting. The atmosphere absolutely infuses the level of intensity surrounding the case of the murdered woman. But the translation feels clunky and a lot of the set-ups feel unrealistic, and I honestly didn't care who had actually committed the murder by the end. I know, that's harsh, but the book definitely falls down in a number of ways. But my lust for Swedish mysteries these days seems unhinged. I just can't get enough of them.

Oh, and this novel should REALLY be nominated for some bad sex writing. Wowsers.

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