Monday, January 2, 2017

The Ice Beneath Her by Camilla Grebe

When the beheaded body of a young woman is found in the house of notorious "Fashion King" Jesper Orre, suspicion immediately turns to the man. Peter Lindgren and Manfred Olsson land the case and really can't be blamed for suspecting the Clothes & More CEO. Orre has, after all, been the focus of a number of headlines concerning the beleaguered company thanks to poor treatment of workers and even possible misuse of funds. Oh, and Orre is missing too. 

But there are a few wrinkles, the main one being a similar case from ten years ago in which a murdered man was found in very similar circumstances. Hanne Lagerlind-Schön was a consultant on that case and Olsson believes she could be of help again. But Hanne is in the beginnings of a dementia diagnosis, fighting a losing battle where time is her enemy. And yet, being part of the new case could be exactly what she needs to give herself a new feeling of confidence. But being part of the case also means reuniting with Peter...

I wanted to love The Ice Beneath Her. It had all the right elements of a great thriller: a twisted case, a cop with a complicated background, and points of view from a number of characters, any of whom could be of questionable believability. 

And yet, I found that I struggled to stay in the story. 

For one, Peter Lindgren comes off just a tad too similar to Jussi Adler-Olsen's Dept Q lead - and I much prefer the latter. 

Peter is not a nice guy. He has a son he never sees, because he believes he's a bad dad (uh, yeah), leaving sole responsibility on the shoulders of his ex, a woman who comes across as either a saint or an idiot depending on your opinion. And he and Hanne have a history too. 

His selfishness and neglect of others isn't really balanced by any positive or potentially likable personality aspects until we get close to the end of the book. And again I couldn't help comparing him to Carl Mørck who did manage to charm me within a few pages of his own book, in spite of being a grouch who everyone hates. Plus, he's balanced by a cast of equally intriguing and fabulous characters, which Peter doesn't really have in The Ice Beneath Her.

That said, Hanne could have been a real stand out. Had we been limited to her side of the story I actually would have been much more satisfied with the book. Her struggle with her illness and the limits she knows it's going to set on her don't break her determination to do something other than lie down and take it. And while we get good insight into this aspect of her life and her obsession with Greenland and Inuit culture, we don't get much in the way of her actual job. Which is unfortunate as it would have made both the mystery and her character more interesting. 

The story does alternate between Peter, Hanne, and a third character, Emma. Emma takes us back to about two months before the murder, offering us a bit of background on Jesper Orre. And we soon learn she is a possible ID for the dead body as well. 

All in all The Ice Beneath Her wasn't a bad book, it simply fell short of comparable titles. Which is a shame considering I'd hoped it would be one to add to my growing list of Scandi faves.

Rating: 3/5

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