Book Reviewed by Thor A. Larsen
Camilla Laackberg is a young (b.1970) Swedish writer was 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.
Camilla, in a short period of time became Sweden’s best-selling author in 2006. Her first six novels became Swedish No. 1 sellers. Haven read all of Henning Mankell, the former best 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 town by the sea, could easily been a town in Norway as well as Sweden. The choice of the locale according to the writer, “I think a small town is more interesting and dynamic than a big city. It’s the setting that gives it the flavor”.
Ms. Laackberg writing style lends itself to easy reading. Although there are two deaths in the story, there is no violence described. The solving of the crime by the main character, writer Erica Flack, and her new boyfriend, local police detective Patrick Hedstrom follows a steady path slowly with the final culprit perhaps the last person one would expect in this little town.
As the two independently and together interview local residences 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, there was some real dark past of her son, who had disappeared a number of years ago. 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 of the killer. A former friend of Erica, now married, was having an affair with the victim and made him a serious suspect.
To enrich the story, the writer enjoyed adding relationships within the framework of the main story. For example, her sister was in an abusive relationship that led to the sister 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, so that at the end, he simply took money out of the bank, and settled in Spain. And, as the story unfolds, there becomes a romantic involvement with Erica and Patrick.
It is understandable that Ms. Laackberg’s books have become top sellers in Sweden, due to her writing style, and focus on people’s fallibilities, and the meticulous means her main characters solve the mysteries in a peaceful manner and with some humor.