Camilla Läckberg laid good foundations for a crime series in her first book, The Ice Princess. In this, her second, she builds successfully on these foundations.
The story opens with a strong and very visual scene. A small boy, playing where he has been told not to, stumbles across the body of a young woman. And that’s not all – when police examine the scene they find older remains of two more women below the first body.
The story then moves to Erica Falck and Patrik Hedstrøm, Camilla Läckberg’s two principal serial characters. He is on leave and the couple is at home together in her childhood home when Patrik is called back to work to investigate the three killings.
Hooray for a detective who isn’t an idiosyncratic maverick but a regular person with a familiar family life!
The two older bodies are swiftly linked to the cases of two young girls who went missing some twenty years ago. Back then, suspicion fell on the members of a prominent local family, and signs point to them again.
The Hult family is descended from Ephraim Hult, a distinguished and charismatic preacher and healer. Living in the shadow of such a man is not easy and the family has many deep seated troubles and feuds.
Meanwhile, Erica is heavily pregnant in the middle of a heatwave and she is plagued by friends and relations who expect to visit and be looked after. It’s the price of living in a large house in beautiful countryside. And she worries about sister, who has left her abusive husband but will maybe take more missteps.
And so the story weaves between the police investigation, the family under scrutiny and Erica and Patrik’s family life.
When I wrote about The Ice Princess I was a little critical of the balance between those three elements. Not this time around – it helps maybe that all of the continuing characters and relationships are in place this time around – the balance feels right and the contrast between the darkness of the crime and the warmth of the domestic storyline is interesting.
Camilla Läckberg shows emotional understanding and great psychological understanding. Her characterizations are spot on and her style is clear and exact, with not a word wasted.
The story twists and turns, before reaching a conclusion that is both unexpected and totally logical – something that many distinguished crime writers can’t pull off this well.
Definitely a successful second outing – I look forward to the third.
Translated by Steven T Murray