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The Ice Princess (2010)

The Ice Princess (2010)
Rating
3.66 of 5 Votes: 3
ISBN
1605980927 (ISBN13: 9781605980928)
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English
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publisher
pegasus
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The Ice Princess (2010)
The Ice Princess (2010)

About book: Really, I've given this book 3.5 stars, but once again, I'm faced with the fact that goodreads lacks the 1/2 star option. Even though I dislike star ratings, I try to be fair and round up when I need to.Erica Falck, the main character of this story, is a writer of biographies of famous women. However, after her childhood friend Alex Carlgren-Wijkner is found dead, Alex's family asks Erica to write a commemoration of her life for the local newspaper in Fjällbacka, where Alex lived until age 10 and where she was later found dead in her parents' old home. Erica does the article, but decides that she would like to write more about Alex - maybe a book. While working on her draft, she noticed that ...the material was increasingly taking on the form of a crime novel, a genre to which she'd never felt particularly attracted. It was people -- their relationships and psychological motivations -- that she was interested in; she thought that was something most crime novels had to give up in favour of bloody murders and cold shivers running down the spine. (112)Lackberg, like her creation Erica Falck, is also interested in the "relationships and psychological motivations" of the people in her novel. Alex Wijkner, the dead woman, is an enigma. She was Erica's best friend until one day Alex and her family moved away without saying goodbye. As Erica set to work interviewing people who knew her, Erica came to realize that everyone loved Alex, but nobody really knew her, because Alex never really got close enough to anyone to reveal herself. But evidently someone wanted Alex out of the way, because now she's dead. But why? What possible motivation could anyone have to want to do away with her, since she was so widely admired? As Erica plunges deeper into Alex's life, she realizes that while the who is important, the why also continues to elude her. For help she turns to an old admirer, Patrik Hedstrom, now a police officer, who can go places Erica cannot, and together they begin to peel back Alex's complicated story, layer by layer. They also come to realize that some people will go to great lengths to prevent this story from coming out so as to protect secrets long hidden and buried away. The author's unraveling of "psychological motivations" behind Alex's death is very well done, eked out little by little, creating a good deal of suspense until all is finally revealed. To start with such an enigmatic victim is a good move and a great way to ensure reader interest until the end. And setting the novel in the small town of Fjällbacka emphasizes the fact that a) tensions can run high in a small town or community where everyone knows your business or at least wants to, and b) murder can happen anywhere, not just in big cities. There is also a nice sense of place evoked here, while at the same time a familiar lament comes through regarding the beauty of this seaside town being wrecked by tourists, although the money from people on their vacations is badly needed. All of these things combined make The Ice Princess a good read.But perhaps there is too much emphasis on the "personal relationships" mentioned above. As long as the examination of personal relationships and the character development are pertinent and therefore necessary to the crime, I'm very interested. Human beings and their psyches are, after all, at the root of all crime, and one reason Scandinavian crime fiction authors are among my favorites is because they are very good at creating very human and complicated people, both good guys and bad. But when the characters slip into lengthy romantic interludes or comic diversions that pull me away from the plot, then I'm distracted. I realize this is a personal thing I have with crime fiction & mysteries, and I had to think about my own reading prejudices before trying to set down my thoughts about this book. I happen to be one of those people mentioned by Lackberg via Erica who prefers the "bloody murders and the cold shivers running down the spine," and I like my crime more streamlined, complicated and somewhat creepy. For me, there was a bit too much time turned over to romance in this story, and in that aspect, it reminded me more of some cozy novels I used to read. While Erica and Patrik's growing relationship probably helps to make them more rounded characters, I found myself doing the quick skim through these parts to get back to the crime. The romance scenes tended to break up the suspense of what was going on with Alex's death and I couldn't wait to get back to the revelations at hand. The same was true with the scenes at the police station, with the parts featuring the ineptitude of a few of the local cops. While those scenes provided some comic relief, I didn't think I needed any -- again, I was much more focused on the crime and getting back to the main plotline. But then again, that's just me.I failed to guess the who and the why, so that's a very good thing, and overall, the main thrust of the story was well written with a good plotline and good mystery at its core. This book has received many excellent reviews, and I would recommend it, despite my nigglings above. And I plan to read the other books in this series as well, so obviously I liked it.

Beginning with her 2002 novel, Isprinsessan, Camilla Lackberg has been a popular crime fiction novelist in Sweden. In an obvious attempt to capitalize on the current wave of interest in Scandanavian crime fiction in the U.S., Lackberg's first novel has now been published here as The Ice Princess. Erica Falck, a writer, returns to her small hometown of Fjallbacka, a Swedish fishing village, to deal with family matters in the wake of her parents' deaths. No sooner does she arrive, though, when her best childhood friend, Alexandra Wijkner, is found dead, frozen in her bathtub, an apparent suicide. Alex was a beautiful woman, married to a successful, caring husband and appeared to have a wonderful life. The two women lost touch years earlier when Alex and her family mysteriously left town in something of a hurry, but even though they had not been close for years, Erica cannot imagine why her old friend would have taken her own life.Erica's first instinct is to write a book about Alex's death. Her second is to join forces with another childhood friend, Patrik Hedstrom, in an effort to unravel the mystery. Patrik is the principal detective investigating Alex's death. It soon becomes apparent that the small town of Fjallbacka has a lot of deep, dark secrets, some of them dating back for years, and Erica is determined to root through all of them to uncover the truth about the death of her friend.Inside this four-hundred-page book is a lean psychological thriller struggling to break free. The basic plot is interesting enough, although a lot of readers will usually be at least one step ahead of our heroine. The problem is that there's an awful lot of navel-gazing that one has to wade through. Every few pages the action screeches to a halt while one or another of the characters examines his or her emotional state, and after a while this gets pretty tedious. The characters are also very uneven. Some of them are very well-drawn, complete and interesting; others not so much. There is one central character in particular who's a totally unbelievable cartoonish caricature unworthy of being included in a serious novel. There's also a totally unnecessary subplot involving Erica's sister that intrudes into the story on a regular basis.My other main concern with this book is that the police procedure is often laughable. The police miss obvious clues and neglect to take even basic steps in the investigation, leaving Erica to make discoveries that the detectives should have made very early on. Patrik also allows Erica, a civilian, to take a role in the investigation that no real police detective would ever countenance.Toward the end, the book finally gathers steam and Lackberg produces a fairly interesting and entertaining conclusion. But it does leave one with the distinct impression that this would have been a much better book if the author had gotten to the conclusion a lot earlier.The cover suggests that fans of Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell "will devour" this book, but Lackberg is clearly not in their league--at least not yet. Several others of her novels are soon to be available in the U.S. and perhaps they will demonstrate more conclusively that she is moving to fulfill that claim.
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Reviews
Masanobu
I had heard only good things about this book, but it seems this year I'm not being lucky with my readings.In no particular order, the things that bugged me the most were:1. This is a murder mystery novel, so there are clues the protagonists investigate to resolve it. The only problem is Läckberg tells the reader the clues after everything is resolved. Yes, the reader is excluded from the investigation, i.e. the fun of this kind of books.2. There are blatant timeline mistakes. For example, check the dates when Patrik Hedstrom interrogates Dagmar Petren (the old lady who made cakes). Suddenly, it's two weeks earlier.3. I'm convinced this was romance disguised as mystery. I don't really need to know how Erika and Patrik made love for five times because they are on the "bingo phase" of their relationship. Indeed, I would love if I had never read "bingo phase". Half of the book is spent in these silly things I don't want to read about. Else I would have chosen Danielle Steel!4. Women. I can't believe this was written by a woman! Every woman in the book was completely dependent on men, did everything to please some man in her life and their hardest worry was to have a fine make-up in every occasion. Don't expect to find a strong-willed, intelligent and independent woman in this book. Except maybe the old Dagmar Petren.5. "What kind of detective is Patrik Hedstrom?" That was the question that came to mind when I read Patrik, after looking for a long time to Erika, always sees her perfect in every detail and finds wonderful she goes out without make-up, unlike her ex-wife. Of course, Erika always has tons of make-up on and half the times they see each other she's just put on the first items of clothing in her closet. You could attribute that to being in love, but it just seemed like Patrik was stupid. 6. Of course, point 5 might just be the result of Läckberg lack of talent for writing. That might sound harsh, but Läckberg's characters were out of her control. She described everyone in a very wordy way which was pointless, since the characters really weren't as she wanted them to be.7. It took me forever to read! And I had been hoping for a page-turner.
Νόρα
Κάθε αναγνώστης σίγουρα έχει μια λίστα με βιβλία που δε κατάφερε να ολοκληρώσει.Πίσω απ' αυτή την αδυναμία μπορεί να κρύβονται διάφοροι λόγοι.Η σωστή χρονική στιγμή,η κατάλληλη ψυχολογία ακόμη και οι προσωπικές προτιμήσεις.Πρόσφατα προστέθηκε στη λίστα αυτό το αστυνομικό βιβλίο.Ο λόγος που δεν κατάφερα να το τελειώσω δεν είναι κανένας από τους προαναφερθέντες,γιατί απλούστατα είναι ένα κακό βιβλίο.Δεδομένης της διαφήμισης και των κριτικών που έχω δει ήταν πολύ κατώτερο των προσδοκιών μου.Πειράζει που δεν κόπηκα ;;;Άνθρακας ο θησαυρός!Πολύ μέτριο.Ξεκίναγα να το διαβάζω και με έπιανε νύστα.Του λείπει η αγωνία που έχουν συνήθως αυτού του είδους τα βιβλία.Η συγγραφέας δεν εντριφτεί καθόλου στους χαρακτήρες και στην ψυχοσύνθεση τους,ακόμα ο τρόπος που ξετυλίγεται το μυστήριο είναι τόσο προβλέψιμος.Πιστεύω πλέον ότι οι συγγραφείς γράφουν με τέτοιο τρόπο ώστε να είναι τα βιβλία έτοιμα για σενάριο,ξεχνώντας όμως το βάθος της υπόθεσης.Απλά κρύο όπως το τοπίο που περιγράφει.
Luís Miguel
Relembro - principalmente a mim próprio - que certo tipo de policiais abdica da acção para construir as suas personagens, com uma característica chave que guia as suas acções do início ao fim. Não esperem evolução das escassas camadas de personalidade desta gente.Também, os pormenores técnicos da investigação que deveriam ser rotineiros (como procurar os últimos números de telefone marcados pela vítima) acabam por servir de peças escondidas do puzzle ou o facto da narração ser directa até decidir esconder as descobertas do leitor, para depois desenrolar o texto todo mais à frente.Não fosse a história sórdida (até pouco explorada) tinha poucos motivos de interesse. Um deles seria a vila de Fjallbacka e um ou dois personagens dignos de nota (ex. o Sr. Eilert Berg que abre e fecha o livro).Enfim, cada vez mais tenho em querer que o policial nórdico é uma moda demasiado branda para mim. Felizmente, dá para apreender alguns traços culturais desses países, que tenho vindo a apreciar.
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