Book review: Sweden’s “Ice Princess”

ice princess

Thor A. Larsen
Fishkill, N.Y.

Camilla Läckberg is a young (b. 1970) Swedish writer, an economist who “accidentally” became a writer after her mother and husband signed her up for a creative writing course as a Christmas present. Shortly thereafter, Camilla wrote her first crime novel.

Läckberg became Sweden’s best selling author in 2006. Her first six novels became Swedish No. 1 sellers. Having read all of Henning Mankell, former top Swedish crime writer, I decided to explore The Ice Princess.

I certainly was not disappointed! The selection of the locale for the story, a small Swedish town by the sea, could just as easily have been a town in Norway. According to the writer, her choice of setting was because, “I think a small town is more interesting and dynamic than a big city. It’s the setting that gives it the flavor.”

Läckberg’s writing style lends itself to easy reading. Although there are two deaths in the story, no violence is described. The solving of the crime by the main character, writer Erica Falck, and her new boyfriend, local police detective Patrik Hedström, follows a steady path leading to discovery of the final culprit—perhaps the last person one would expect in this little town.

As the pair independently and together interviews locals, many skeletons come out of the closets. This town had a matriarch whose late husband had built up a very successful business and was viewed as “royalty” by the local residents. However, her son, who had disappeared a number of years ago, had real darkness in his past. The cover-up of the son’s crimes some years ago, by several families, had devastating effects on their children. But there were other leads in the search for the killer. A former friend of Erica’s, now married, was having an affair with the victim, making him a serious suspect.

To enrich the story, the writer added relationships within the framework of the main story. For example, Erica’s sister was in an abusive relationship that led her and her children to move in with Erica. The local caretaker of the victim’s home had a very unhappy relationship with his domineering wife, such that at the end, he simply took money out of the bank and settled in Spain. And, as the story unfolds, Erica and Patrik become romantically entangled.

It is understandable that Läckberg’s books have become top sellers in Sweden, due to her writing style, her focus on people’s fallibilities, and the meticulous means by which her main characters solve the mysteries—in a peaceful manner and with some humor.

Born in Stavanger, Thor A. Larsen immigrated to New York City with his parents in 1948. Now retired from a 40-year career as physicist and engineer, Thor draws and paints, and writes travel and arts articles for a local publication. He’s been married to Arlene for 49 years, and they have two adult children and three grandsons.

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 27, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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