A woman is found dead and frozen in her bathtub by her neighbors in a sleepy and cold seaside town. She has slit her wrists and at first it appears to be a suicide. However, the forensic teams conclude from the evidence that it is not suicide. She has been murdered.
Thus begins the murder mystery novel The Ice Princess by Swedish author Camilla Lackberg. Lackberg is intensely popular in Sweden. She has sold over 3.5 million copies of her book there. That might not seem like much until you realize that there are just over 9 million people living in Sweden. The mystery has been translated into English by Steven T. Murphy and will soon be available in paperback from FreePress.
On the cover, Lackberg's book is compared to the extremely popular Swedish mysteries written by Stieg Larsson. I haven't actually read his work yet but I've heard some good things.
I don't often read murder mysteries but I do enjoy a well developed one. I started The Ice Princess last week. I read the first 100 pages in a few hours. It got off to a great and exciting start. If I hadn't been so exhausted, I felt sure that I could have finished it that night.
However, I got bogged down in the middle section. There was too much side-story that didn't involve the investigation. While the characters of Patrick, the police detective and Erica, the discoverer of the body are well developed and their budding romance is fun, it distracted from the mystery. Apparently this book is the beginning of a series starring Patrick and Erica, so I understand the need to have more of their story.
The ending wasn't entirely satisfactory either and the truth simply spills out without much difficulty in the last few pages. For guarding a disturbing secret so carefully for so long, everyone gives it up too easily with just a little questioning.
Camilla Lackberg does create interesting and believable characters. She has a great understanding of even the so-called "dregs of society" and writes of them with compassion and sympathy. Each one of the characters in the story, no matter how minor, earns a good description with plenty of back story.
The Ice Princess is a fairly good mystery. It's certainly not the best one that I've ever read and I must admit some disappointment. I expected better.
I received a free copy of The Ice Princess from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. No additional compensation was given.