Amber saw me reading this one and said that it must be boring, since it had “princess” in the title. I explained no, it’s actually a murder mystery; the Ice Princess is a woman who is found dead in a bathtub filled with frozen water. I guess that made more sense to her, seemed more like something worth reading, since she moved on to telling me about her day.

In the story, we quickly learn that the woman, Alex, was actually murdered. Erica, the woman’s childhood friend, discovers the body and along with a local police detective, Patrick Hedström, uncover secrets that stretch back over twenty years, secrets someone would do anything to protect, including commit murder.

First of all, I have to say the cover is gorgeous. The ice, the shades of blue, the mysterious woman fit the novel perfectly. I have to admit that part of the reason I wanted to read this was the Sweden setting, and I wasn’t disappointed. The setting is important to the book, gave it a unique atmosphere.

It’s a character driven novel. Erica herself is very likeable, and I could understand where she was coming from. On the one hand she did feel some loyalty to her old friend, wanted to find out what happened to her. At the same time, Erica is a writer and she sees the book potential of the story. Digging into all the secrets, all the background, adds more depth to the novel she can see evolving from Alex’s death, and life.

Patrick is apparently the only competent cop on the force. He is good at his job, trusts his instincts and Erica’s. He doesn’t back down from uncomfortable confrontations, but the romance between Erica and him seemed like an unnecessary addition. Maybe their dates just broke up the story for me. I was into the whodunnit, why, what secrets were being hidden, and their dates just interrupted it for me. But that’s a small quibble because they are the two best characters in the story.

Some of the other characters are stereotypes we’ve seen before. There’s the incompetent police chief who is still amazingly conceited, the tortured artist, the rich stuck-up elderly woman, the heir and his ditzy wife, the man who cheats on his wife but still loves her, honestly. On the other hand, they fit in with the town and the story, and like in many small towns, their lives have all intersected at one point or another.

The mystery was well-done, although sometimes the main characters made discoveries that weren’t immediately shared with us, which was kind of annoying. However, the plot had lots of layers and questions about the characters’ motives and choices. It was interesting to see how the current tragedy connected back to an event that had occurred decades before. It deals with some difficult issues, and I can see this one leading to a lot of discussion, more so than most mysteries.

It’s a good one, complex but not overly so, if that makes sense.

Patric Hedström #1
389 pages
First published in Sweden in 2002. This edition released March 29, 2011.
Translated by Steven T. Murray

4 out of 5 stars

Purchase at Amazon or an Indie bookstore.

Challenge: Mystery and Suspense

I received my copy from the publisher for review and the above is my honest opinion.