The Ice Princess, by Camilla Lackberg

Camilla Lackberg

Jean Edith Camilla Läckberg Eriksson became a writer after her husband and parents enrolled her in a writing course as a Christmas present. During the last three years she has sold more than 1.5 million copies of her books, and she was Sweden’s best-selling author in 2006. The same year she also won the People’s Literature Prize.

Born in 1974 in Fjällbacka, Camilla Lackberg graduated from Gothenburg University of Economics, before moving to Stockholm where she worked for a few years as an economist. She has three children (Willie, Meja and Charlie).

Läckberg considers herself a bit of a crime nerd. 80 per cent of what she reads is crime fiction. "My favourite writers include Peter Robinson, Reginald Hill, Andrew Taylor, Mari Jungstedt, Håkan Nesser and Åsa Larsson."

Camilla Lackberg

Bibliography

* means not yet translated into English

See also our review of The Preacher! Here is Camilla Lackberg's official website (in Swedish). And here is a recent interview with Camilla Läckberg in Huffington post.

(Review based on the Swedish edition.) Camilla Lackberg (Läckberg in Swedish) is a young (born 1974), very talented writer Swedish crime writer. She was voted Swedish Writer of the Year for 2005. Her books have so far sold 1.5 million copies.

The Ice Princess, by Camilla Läckberg

The Ice Princess takes place in the small town of Fjällbacka. In an interview, Camilla Lackberg says that “It’s a place I know very well. I think a small town is more interesting and dynamic than a big city. It’s the setting that gives the flavor.” Läckberg says the town’s history has shaped its inhabitants – and her characters. “The people there don’t take things for granted and always want to be one step ahead of fate. I try to bring that out in my books as well,” she says. And she certainly does in The Ice Princess.

When writer Erica Falck returns to her hometown after the funeral of her parents, she finds her childhood friend Alex murdered. Her wrists are slashed, her body frozen in an ice-cold bath. At first, is seems that she has taken her own life. Lackberg paints a portrait of a small, closed community where everybody knows everything about each other and where appearances are of immense importance. Under the wrong circumstances, this may lead to tragedy.

Local detective Patrik Hedstrom and his colleges at the Tanumshede police station investigates the case. Detective Hedstrom follows his own suspicions about the case. Meanwhile, Erica conceives a memoir about the beautiful but remote Alex, one that will help to overcome her writer's block as well as answer questions about their own past.

But it is only when they start working together that the truth begins to emerge about this small town with a deeply disturbing past.

The plot is superb, almost Agatha Christie-ish. The characters emerge with clarity and feel genuine. And Lackberg lets secrets about the little community be revealed that bring about more things than murder.The Ice Princess shows Lackberg's ability to work with emotional responses and her considerable psychological insight. In The Ice Princess she builds like a master.

Praise for The Ice Princess:

‘Strong portrayals and ice-cold suspense from Sweden's new Agatha Christie’ -- My Life

'This is unputdownable. Lackberg keeps the thrills coming until the very end' -- Viva

The Stonecutter, by Camilla Läckberg

The Stonecutter, Camilla Läckberg

The Stonecutter is the third novel by Camilla Läckberg translated into English. It features policeman Patrik Hedstrom and his wife Erica Falck from Fjallbacka in Sweden. Patrick and Erica now have a newborn daughter, Maja. Erica suffers from a post-birth depression, and Patrik has a hard time coping with all the new demands on him at home.

In The Stonecutter a little girl is found dead in a fisherman's net. The post-mortem reveals that this is no accidental drowning! The girl has fresh rather than salt water in her lungs. Also there are traces of soap in her lungs and ash in her mouth. Someone has murdered the little girl indoors, dressed her and thrown her into the sea. So now Patrik has a murder case that requires his full attention. To some extent he is relieved to be able to return to work.

This murder case is a delicate one for Patrik, partly because the victim is a child, partly because she is the daughter of one of Erica’s friends, Camilla. Also, it is hard to see what the motive for this terrible crime could possibly be. Patrik and his colleagues follow every possible lead. And as they dig, more and more dark secrets from the little community of Fjallbacka surface. The police find evidence that indicates that the parents may have molested their other child. They find a neighbor that is involved in a child pornography ring. They reveal feuds between neighbors, and deep family conflicts. There is much not immediately visible behind the idyllic façade of small-town Sweden, and some of it is not pretty at all.

At the same time as well follow the investigation of the murder case, we also follow the destiny of Agnes, the daughter of a rich owner of a stone quarry, from the 1920s to the present. She gets involved with a stone cutter, gets pregnant, and finds her father rejecting her, withdrawing all her privileges and forcing her to marry the stone cutter - a man for whom she has no love - when he finds out.

In the present Patrick and his colleagues tear into the heart of Fjallbacka. As other children are attacked they frenetically chase down leads, but without seemingly making much progress. As well, mistakes and conflict within the police force result in the death of an innocent witness. When Patrick in the end connects the dots and finds the solution, it turns out to solve much more than he had anticipated. What he finds is a deep hatred and evil that has been build over long, long time.

Läckberg shows us some of the not so very social sides of social democratic Sweden, another parallel world where an evil mind lurks behind the scenes. Läckberg's writing is getting better and better, and she is becoming more and more popular in Scandinavia. Reading The Stonecutter it is easy to see why.

The Stonecutter is an interesting, exciting and action-packed crime fiction novel, even better than Camilla Läckberg’s earlier book The Ice Princess and the most recent, The Preacher. It is great reading and the ending is a winner! The novel is excellently translated by Steven T. Murray - a true pleasure to read. Läckberg is very good at describing the effects of crime on a small community with close ties and relationships among people, and also does a great job at showing how the past may, in some circumstances, exert an active influence on the present. Great entertainment!

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