This is the first novel in a series that has been on my personal radar for some time. What clinched the deal for me was the fact that this title was chosen by my ‘in-person’ bookclub as their read for May. The good news? I loved it !!! The bad news? There are now TEN novels in this series, so I have some serious catching up to do.
“A thin sheet of ice had formed in the bathtub. She had begun to take on a slightly bluish tinge. He thought she looked like a princess lying there. An ice princess.”
Set in the picturesque Swedish town of Fjällbacka, the series begins as an older resident of the town discovers a body in the house where he is acting as caretaker. Panic and shock drive him out into the road where he enlists the aid of Erica Falck. Erica knows at once that the body is that of her childhood friend, Alexandra. It would appear that despite her successful marriage and work, she has committed suicide.
Erica has temporarily moved back to Fjällbacka to settle the affairs of her parents who have recently died in a car accident. At thirty-five years of age, she is single, and a writer who has written several biographies, though her latest book is presenting a challenge. She is happy to be back in the town where she grew up and barely misses her Stockholm flat.
“As a writer, she preferred to observe reality from a distance.”
Erica’s younger sister Anna lives nearby. She is married to an abusive and controlling man and has two young children. Anna’s husband Lucas wants the family home sold and Anna is meekly going along with him. Erica is vehemently opposed to the sale of her parents home. It holds many happy memories for Erica, not to mention it is very valuable and has a stunning view of the sea and surrounding islands.
As the investigation into Alex’s suicide begins, Erica is reunited with another childhood friend, Patrik Hedström. Patrik is now a policeman, and was recently divorced. The two are immediately attracted to one another, but for Patrik a former attraction was rekindled. Erica was his first love.
The investigation quickly turns from suicide to murder, and Patrik enlists Erica’s help in solving the case. This is a small town and both Patrik and Erica know most of the residents. An autopsy has shown that Alex was three months pregnant at the time of her death.
“You should never underestimate the need not to make waves in a small town.”
Anders, an alcoholic artist, Nelly Lorentz, the matriarch of the leading family in town, Alex’s younger sister Julia, Vera, a hardworking housekeeper, and many other colourful and not so savory characters come to the notice of the police. Poor Patrik is working almost single-handed. The few Fjällbacka police are an unambitious lot, and his boss/nemisis Superintendent Bertil Mellberg, is a self-serving, pompous prig who wants to claim all the glory while doing none of the work.
The son of the Lorentz family disappeared without a trace twenty-five years ago. How does that tie in with the murder of Alex?
Meanwhile, Alex’s parents have asked Erica to write a commemorative article about her life…
A book of crime incited by family secrets, parental love, and ‘keeping up appearances’.
This is precisely the type of mystery/thriller that I like the most. It has an interesting mystery story, a picturesque and atmospheric setting, and, above all, it has endearing and empathetic characters. There are nine more titles in this series and I plan to read each and every one solely because I bonded with the characters so well.
The only quibble I have with this book is that the cover just doesn’t seem to fit the story. The body was found in a bathtub. Surely you wouldn’t have gloves in a bathtub? Did the people who designed the cover even read the story??? I’ve seen other covers for this novel that seem to fit the story better.
In 2017 Camilla Läckberg wrote her tenth Story in her series of crime novels set in her home town of Fjällbacka on the west coast of Sweden. Writer Erica Falck and detective Patrik Hedström are at the centre of the action. Together they solve murders linked to the history of the small fishing community. Camilla Läckberg writes crime novels with a filmic quality; they are a perfect blend of everyday life and excitement, which has brought her millions of readers all over the world.