The Ice Princess (Patrik Hedström and Erica Falck 1) by Camilla Läckberg

the ice princessLight and shade…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Erica Falck has returned to her home town of Fjällbacka in Sweden to sort out the belongings of her parents who have recently died. But she is soon in the middle of the investigation into the death of her childhood friend, Alex, found frozen in her bathtub with her wrists slit. At first it looks like suicide, but it soon becomes clear that she was murdered. Alex and Erica had been very close as children but had grown apart as children do, and then Alex and her parents had left the town. So Erica feels personally involved in wanting to know what happened to Alex in the intervening years, and who would have a reason to kill her. The detective who’s investigating the case, Patrik Hedström, is another friend from childhood, but when they meet again after all these years their relationship quickly becomes something more than friendship.

This is the first book in the Patrik Hedström and Erica Falck series. I’d previously read a later one, The Stranger, and enjoyed it a lot, so wanted to go back and read the books in order. Quite often the first book in a series can be disappointing as so much time has to be given over to character development, and authors sometimes take a couple of books to really get into their stride. But I didn’t feel that at all in this case – this is an excellent debut, with a strong plot and with two main characters who very quickly become people the reader can like and care about.

Fjällbacka
Fjällbacka

Patrik and Erica’s new found feelings for each other are handled beautifully. There’s enough humour to stop it from being at all soppy and Läckberg makes the whole romance element quite straightforward – no bitter, vengeful ex-partner, no misunderstandings etc. The whole thing comes over as very natural and realistic and, because both characters are strong and attractive, the match feels like one that will last. I loved the way the viewpoint shifts between them so that we are able to see what each is thinking. At one point as Patrik is on his way to Erica’s, we see her rushing about desperately changing clothes and re-doing her make-up in an attempt to achieve that carelessly casual natural look – and when he arrives the view shifts to him, and we see him being completely fooled by it and thinking she’s one of these rare women who doesn’t need to try. Lovely!

Camilla Läckberg
Camilla Läckberg

By contrast, the plot concerning the reasons for Alex’s murder is quite dark, and there is a sub-plot concerning Erica’s sister who is in an abusive marriage, so there’s plenty of meat in the story. Although Erica does a little unofficial poking around, the bulk of the investigation is done as a police procedural. Fjällbacka is a tiny place, so the police aren’t used to dealing with murders, and apart from Patrik most of them would rather not have their routines disrupted. So Patrik more or less takes the case over, and we see him as a dedicated officer without any tediously maverick tendencies. On the downside, Patrik’s boss is drawn as the stereotypical incompetent bully in this book, though from memory that aspect seemed to be toned down quite a bit by the time of the later book that I read.

The translation by Steven T Murray is excellent – it doesn’t read like a translation at all, and none of the touches of humour get lost. Well written, with two likeable lead characters and a great mix of light and shade in the plot, this one has left me looking forward eagerly to catching up with the rest of the series.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

54 thoughts on “The Ice Princess (Patrik Hedström and Erica Falck 1) by Camilla Läckberg

  1. Wow, this sounds almost like the perfect book! I love the idea of the victim being found in a frozen bath (with or without slit wrists) – that is pleasingly graphic. The characters sound likeable and believable and switching between their points of view so cleverly… I might have to read this, you know, apart from that fact it sounds great, I think it something like this could improve my own skills. Thanks, FF, you’ve done it again!

    • Yes, the descriptions of the frozen bath murder scene were excellent without being in any way overly graphic. While I was reading it, it was reminding me of why I so much prefer a third person narrative – it made it possible for her to change the viewpoint from scene to scene without it feeling clunky, and let us see scenes where neither of the two main characters were present. Good old-fashioned story-telling techniques that still work! Definitely recommended! 🙂

  2. FictionFan – I am so pleased you liked this as well as you did! I actually think this is quite a good series, and for my money, this first is among the best in the lot. It’s got (to me anyway) a great mix of personal-life information with information about the actual mystery. And to me, it’s got just the right dash of wit.

    • The two I’ve read make me think this could easily become one of my favourite series, and the plot of this was particularly strong I felt. And I love the way she handles Patrik’s and Erica’s relationship – refreshingly realistic and nice touches of humour.

    • It’s been sitting on my Kindle for nearly two years! Definitely worth shoving it up the priority list – I hope I don’t leave it another two years before I get round to her next one…

  3. I read this one recently and shared my experience about it. I, too, really liked the book and liked the relationship between Erica and Patrik. I remember that exchange that you shared – Erica fussing about her makeup and Patrik thinking she never has to wear makeup. LOL

    The setting was vivid to me and cold. Love the picture you shared above. I’m pleased to have several more books in this series to read. I had this book on my shelf for a long, long time. I’m planning on moving on to the next, THE PREACHER, soon.

    • Just popped over to see your review – yes, she really got the feeling of the cold over, but without overdoing it as happens in some Nordic fiction. Sometimes I’m left wondering how anyone could possibly live there at all! And I love the way she deals with Patrik’s and Erica’s relationship. I’ll be reading The Preacher as soon as I can make a space between review books… The Ice Princess had been sitiing on my Kindle for nearly two years!

  4. I liked this book too, and I’ve picked up a couple more in the series in charity shops over the months, although doubtless I’ll end up reading them all mixed up! I think I read one reviewer say that some of the middle books do get a bit soapy, but that’s just personal taste. It’s a really strong debut, anyway.

    • I’ve got a feeling these ones will work better in order. There were things I knew from The Stranger that I wished I hadn’t – the story arc about the main characters seems to be as important in these as the plots. Funny you should say that about the soapy feel – when I reviewed The Stranger, the translator popped in to the blog, and he told me that from book 5 or so, his wife Tiina Nunnally took over the translation (she’s great too – I love her translations). When I asked why, he said there were too many babies in the later books for his taste!

  5. I draw the line at people frozen in bath water. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the description of how much effort it takes to achieve that “carelessly casual natural look.” Perhaps that’s why I never appear carelessly casual. I have no time to achieve that look. Zombie casual is a much more reachable goal for me.

  6. Sounds good. Apropos of nothing, do you know that there’s a new Lexie Coynyngham out? – waiting eagerly for your review.

    • The Tender Herb? It’s been on my Kindle for ages – the new reading plan says it should reach the top by sometime in April, once I get rid of all these review copies that I seem unable to resist! Have you read it yet?

  7. Stellar review, FEF! I always do enjoy reading a book you’re passionate about!

    And you finished it fast, I’d say. Goodness. (I won’t say anything about the author.)

    And Erica wouldn’t have fooled the professor!

  8. Now I want to read that one! Sounds like it’s calling my name. My TBR list is not close to yours, and I try to keep it low so I don’t get overwhelmed, but I have to say, I am going to have a go at it.

  9. I’ve really enjoyed this series although I did read a couple of the later ones before I started at the beginning and like you I was impressed by how strong the first book was. I also agree that the translation of this series is seemless, apart from the names you wouldn’t know you were reading a book that wasn’t originally written in English – great review of a great series!

    • The translation can make such a difference, and I definitely find myself more in tune with female Nordic authors than male ones for some reason – not something I notice much in British crime really. Good to hear the rest of the series is good too… 🙂

    • Haha! Yes, there’s nothing like a original corpse to cheer up a cold winter’s day… I think you’ll probably enjoy this one if you do have it. It sat neglected on my Kindle for months…

    • I haven’t read that one – I decided to stop reading the new ones till I’d gone back and read the early ones. I definitely think this is shaping up to be one of my favourite series…

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