The Ice Princess by Camilla Läckberg

November 25, 2018 Leave a comment Go to comments

Our Book Club had picked The Ice Princess by Camilla Läckberg for October. It’s the first volume of the Erica Falck series. We are in Fjällbacka, during the winter and Alexandra Wijkner was found murdered. She was discovered by Erica Falck, a former classmate who is back in her hometown to tidy her childhood home after her parents were killed in an accident. Erica is a writer of biographies. She’s on a deadline to finish her book and working in Fjällbacka, far from the distractions of Stockholm works for her. She doesn’t have any family left there, her only sister lives in Stockholm too.

The plot centers around the personality of the victim, her loveless marriage to Karl Erik, her relationship with her parents and the strange events that happened in her early teenage years. Erica and Alexandra were best friends until her family suddenly moved out without telling goodbye to anyone. Has Alexandra’s murder anything to do with her past and how is the powerful Lorentz family involved in this story? That’s the murder plot.

The police in charge of the investigation is led by an insufferable chief called Bertil Mellberg and the inspector actually doing the ground work is Patrik Hedström, also a former schoolmate of Erica’s. He used to have a huge crush on her when they were younger.

Erica gets involved in the investigation, while finishing her book, starting to write a new one about Alexandra’s murder and dealing with her sister’s problems and her terrible brother-in-law. Meanwhile, Patrik and Erica get reacquainted and their relationship hops on an uncontrollable sleigh of soppiness, with fluttering hearts, ovaries in overdrive and cooking-is-the-way-to-a-man’s-heart seduction moves.

I found the story easy to read, not very original but entertaining even if I have guessed a key element in the mystery. And believe me, this is not a good sign because I never try to solve the murder when I read crime fiction, I have more fun enjoying the ride. The mystery part was OK but déjà vu, in my opinion.

The other elements around the investigation have been done before too. Erica’s sister is victim of domestic violence and the romance is too cheesy for my tastes. I guess it’s so successful because you can relate to Erica who is an average citizen. The only fun character is the awful chief of police. For the rest, I had the feeling that it lacked characterization and that the plot was too weak. It doesn’t compare well to other series like the ones written by Anne Perry, Louise Penny or Fred Vargas.

I’d say it’s good for a train journey or a plane trip but nothing to write home about.

Now a word about the French translation. I thought it was weird. Sometimes the syntax leaped out of the page. But what surprised me most were old-fashioned expressions like se lever à l’heure du laitier (to get up with the milkman), the use of baise-en-ville to describe the overnight bag Erica takes for her date with Patrik. tata instead of tatie (auntie), casse-croûte instead of sandwich. The translators are Lena Grumbach and Marc de Gouvernain. I’ve already read translations by Lena Grumbach since she also translates Katarina Mazetti but I never noticed anything about her translations, so I wonder if this old-fashioned vocabulary was in the original. Strange.

  1. November 25, 2018 at 9:22 am

    Yes, I’ve always been a little puzzled by the huge popularity of this author – remember the signing queues at Quais du Polar? I read one of hers and never felt the need to go back for more.

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    • November 25, 2018 at 9:25 am

      Yes, I remember the queues.

      I expected better, to be honest. I have nothing against a bit of romance but here it was too much.

      It didn’t feel original. Maybe the Swedish setting does something to the readers.
      I’m not going to read anything else by her.

      I’m surprised that she’s published by Actes Sud. They’re better than that, usually.

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  2. November 25, 2018 at 9:56 am

    Definitely one for your beach/public transport category by the sound of things. Shame about the lack of originality in the narrative and details of the investigation – otherwise I might have recommended it to a friend who rips through this type of crime fiction series. What did the other members of your book group think of it?

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    • November 25, 2018 at 10:04 am

      They liked it better than me.
      We all agreed to say it was an easy read. You get embarcked in the story, you don’t need much brain power to read it and follow the story.
      Sometimes we just need that.
      Camilla Läckberg is very successful, it must mean something about her books, I guess.

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  3. November 25, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    I’ve listened to the audiobook of this novel and enjoyed it. Like you, I make no effort to solve crimes, but don’t remember if the solution leapt out at me. Scandinavian crime fiction in general seems to have better characterization than the Americans.

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    • November 25, 2018 at 1:04 pm

      Have you ever tried Louise Penny?
      She’s wonderful.

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  4. November 25, 2018 at 8:44 pm

    I’ve read this author, I think, but I haven’t been tempted to return.

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    • November 25, 2018 at 10:14 pm

      Usually, your tolerance level to romance is lower than mine. I can’t imagine what you thought about The Ice Princess. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. November 25, 2018 at 10:43 pm

    I agree with you – I read this and it was fine. But that’s all. I never got round to reading anymore.

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    • November 25, 2018 at 11:03 pm

      As we say in French, usually with a shrug of the shoulders : “Bof!”

      I’m not going to read another one by her.

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  6. December 8, 2018 at 5:09 pm

    I listened to it again today, and very much enjoyed the development of the characters (and I think the author puts a bit of herself into Erica, including her thoughts about writing detective novels). I thought the mystery was well enough done. Detective novels can be a bit one dimensional, but this series benefits from having a non-detective as its focus.

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    • December 8, 2018 at 5:28 pm

      Glad you had a great time.

      I know a lot of readers enjoyed The Ice Princess and that my vision of it is not the one of the majority.

      I think it must make an entertaining audio book, it’s not terribly literary or sophisticated and the story is done well-enough. After all, even if I thought that the love story was too cheesy for me, I did finish the book.

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  1. November 27, 2018 at 9:02 am

I love to hear your thoughts, thanks for commenting. Comments in French are welcome

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