|Date Published||20 October 2016|
The Ice Child
In the frozen forest a traumatised semi-naked girl wanders aimlessly. When she finally reaches a road, the approaching car fails to stop. The accident leaves the police and the local community completely shaken.
Detective Patrik Hedström and his team are in shock following the post-mortem examination. The victim Victoria Hallberg’s injuries are the most horrendous result of ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ treatment. Victoria vanished four months earlier, and the police realise that the disappearance of three other girls from nearby towns might be connected. Yet they struggle to find any leads and the perpetrator to stop similar horrendous fate happening again.
The local community, including a vet, his wife, the owner of a riding school, and the children learning to ride, cannot comprehend the unspeakable brutality. Patrik, one of the nicest, understanding male characters in the Nordic spectrum, starts to examine the past which has tenuous links to the current investigation.
Meanwhile his wife, true-crime writer Erica Falck, visits a prison where she meets Laila Kowalski, sentenced for the murder of her husband. Intuitive and impulsive Erica researches an old murder case and feels that something isn’t right, even though at the murder scene Laila’s daughter was found in cruel conditions and the court was certain of her guilt.
Although this is book number nine in the series, The Ice Child, translated by Tiina Nunnally, can be read as a standalone as enough background information fills any gaps and helps to understand how Patrik and Erica’s family, friends and neighbours develop and fit into the overreaching saga of
I’ve read and really enjoyed all the books so can vouch for the statement that author Camilla Läckberg is considered a ‘rock star’ of Nordic Noir, sometimes also called the Swedish Agatha Christie. Her excellent storytelling masterfully combines chilling and heart-rending plots with the peaceful family life of the main protagonists, and the horrendous crimes they are investigating, while analysing people’s motives.
The broad canvas is filled with a huge number of characters who have their ups and downs throughout the life of the novels. This method works very well; and so the small fishing town of Fjällbacka, on the west coast of Sweden, became similar to Midsomer where murders pile up disproportionally, and this real place gained fame not only as a holiday resort. Besides, some secondary characters must be there to add a touch of humour and warmth among all the crime, otherwise Bertill Mellberg, a caricature of a boss and a policeman, would be extremely annoying.
However, although the fast pace and complicated correlations between past and present are spellbinding, I find the formula brings no surprises to the established setting. Patrik and Erica might bicker professionally but in the grand scheme of things their working relationship will not shake the foundations of their family life. Which is somehow very reassuring to know that the pervading evil will not destroy everything, and the couple will be fine. But I am not sure how much more Fjällbacka might be able to cope with.
Reviewed 12 November 2016 by Ewa Sherman