The Ice Child by Camilla Lackberg

I have to admit this book was an impulse purchase. In Waitrose. But I just really felt like some slightly generic crime, and The Ice Child fulfilled that wish. It is part of a series of books about Detective Patrik Hedström and his wife Erica, who is a writer, who both just happen to get caught up in wonderfully complex cases in their small Scandanavian town. In this case, a naked teenage girl suddenly appears in the road just outside of town, and is hit by a car. The car drives off, and the girl is found by Marta, out horse riding. The girl is badly wounded, and her eyes have been removed, as well as her tongue (Lackberg doesn’t spare her readers from the gruesome side of things). It turns out the girl is Victoria, a local teenager who attends the riding school owned by Marta and her husband Jonas – and who has been missing for several months.


Patrik is part of the team investigating Victoria’s disappearance and that of several other girls in the area. His wife Erica becomes involved when an old case she is writing a book about suddenly seems to be connected to the missing girls. Add to the mix Jonas’ strange and unhappy parents, and you have a cast of characters filled with mystery and suspicion. The Ice Child is a story of life in a small town that has gone horribly wrong; of family secrets that have evolved into something much worse that any of the characters could imagine. I didn’t quite predict the ending – Lackberg manages to make it very twisty – but by the last third of the book I could see who was involved with the missing girls. It’s a fairly formulaic story with a few red herrings and a good dose of odd behaviour from several of the characters that could look suspicious. The best mystery for me was the old case the Erica is writing about – I couldn’t quite fit it together with the present day story until right at the end, which made it more entertaining, and it kept me reading!

The Ice Child isn’t the most challenging of crime novels, and I think the gruesome treatment of Victoria and the other missing girls was a bit unnecessary – the darkness of it jars with the small town setting, but not in a way that works. The gruesomeness was a bit over the top and ended up feeling a bit sensational, as the family secrets that are exposed are enough to entertain the reader and explain some of the mysteries. There were some great moments though, particularly in the examination of the roles of women as wives and mothers, and how these roles can take very different forms. The impossibility of knowing who someone really is also looms large over the events of the novel and we start to wonder if any of the characters can really be trusted. It’s a very twisty, turning story that unfolds slowly at first, and the dramatically as Patrik and Erica uncover more and more layers of truth.

I don’t read a huge amount of crime fiction so I am still working out what works for me, and I’m afraid I don’t think Camilla Lackberg is it. While I enjoyed The Ice Child it was a bit too formulaic for me, and the language was a little clunky – though of course that could be down to the translation. Either way my next crime novel will have to be something a little different and more challenging!


Published in the UK in 2016 by Harper.

Purchase from Wordery, Foyles, or Blackwell’s.


13 thoughts on “The Ice Child by Camilla Lackberg”

  1. I read one or two by Camilla Lackberg and have to admit she wasn’t quite the writer for me either… although perhaps this isn’t her best, from what I hear.


    1. Yes it’s not super amazing… I read some other reviews that said it was a bit of tried and tested formula. I suppose it depends if you like reading very similar books or not!


  2. I never known whether I want to continue with Lackberg. Her plots are pretty good, but her conversations and characterization are sometimes awkward. Still there’s something about her books that I like.


  3. Just finished this book. First time reading this author. Is it only me but I was confused by the ending. Can some one sum up the ending for me? The way I read it, the murderers get away and leave town. Is this true? Also is Jonas and Marta (who is Louise) the actual killers?

    thanks for helping me understand the ending. I read a lot and maybe it is my age…but I didn’t understand the ending!


    1. I have read the book. Marta isn’t Louise. But otherwise they do leave it open as to whether the killers are ever caught. Also whether the woman is still after the son.


      1. Thank you for your comments re ending of this book. I did think that Marta was Louise. I should pick it up again and re read it.



  4. Note that the driver of the car does not drive off nor does Marta discover the girl after she has been hit by the car.

    Gruesome murders are fairly typical of this author. I will disagree about the gruesomeness of the murders not fitting in with the small town setting though. I have enjoyed her books, but by this one her contrived structure had become quite irritating. The withholding of information does not feel natural nor the convoluted way characters reveal and pass on what they have discovered. I only read this one because I wanted something easy to read.


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