The Ice Princess
Free Press (Simon & Schuster), Mar 29 2011, $15.00
With the death of her parents, biographer Erica Falck returns home to Fjallbacka, Sweden to close their estate. She quickly realizes you cannot go home as the town has changed from a coastal fishing port to a booming tourist attraction. However, when she goes to see her childhood friend Alexandra Wijkner, she finds the woman’s wrists slashed in a tub of icy water; an apparent suicide victim. The grieving author considers writing a novel based on Alex.
As her abusive brother-in-law Lucas persuaded his wife Anna and the third sister Marianne, he demands Erica sell her parents’ home to take advantage of the thriving market. Erica begins to look into what happened to Alex. Erica meets Patrik Hedstrom, the detective investigating the death. As they team up looking into Alex’s death and begin a personal relationship, the pair finds anomalies even while someone wants the darkest secret kept concealed.
This is an exciting Swedish investigation in which the suspects provides their perspective; a technique that enhances the mystery. The town in many ways steals the story line as Fjallbacka is booming yet ironically decaying. The cast is as solid as the wintry ice, but though I cannot believe a cop on an investigation would allow a writer, especially one that he is seeing, to tag along, fans of Swedish whodunits (see the Wallander police procedural by Henning Mankell) will enjoy this engaging mystery.