The Ice Beneath Her by Camilla Grebe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A young woman is found brutally beheaded in the home of a famous businessman, Jesper Orre. The scene is chaotic and bloody and to Detective Peter Lindgren, it is eerily reminiscent of a case he and his partner, Manfred Olsson, worked 10 years ago where a male immigrant was also found beheaded. That case was never solved. Here, in present day, Jesper is mysteriously missing, and Peter and Manfred have no idea about the murdered woman's identity. So they turn to Hanne, a behavioral police consultant, who helped the police with their case ten years ago. But Hanne has a secret of her own. She's recently be diagnosed with dementia, and is forced to carry around a notebook, which she uses to record all the events around her, desperately trying to remember everything. Cut to two months earlier, where young shop worker Emma receives a proposal from Jesper Orre, the enigmatic CEO of the clothing store where she works. Jesper wants to keep their relationship a secret: he's been hit hard lately by the press. Emma complies, but when Jesper never shows up for their engagement dinner, she's befuddled. As time passes, Jesper doesn't respond to Emma's texts or calls, and she becomes increasingly enraged.
This was an intriguing Swedish thriller. The beginning half to three fourths of the novel kept me guessing and rather engaged. I was truly stumped and trying to figure out exactly what was happening (which doesn't always occur for me). Is Emma an unreliable narrator? Who is the dead girl in Jesper's house? Where is Jesper? The book is set up to really draw you in. As it continues, I started to draw more connections and eventually figured out a lot of the plot. That's not exactly a big deal; figuring out a mystery is part of reading such a novel, correct? For me, one of the hardest things with this particular novel was that I just didn't really connect or empathize with its main characters. Peter was pretty much an empty shell and not at all sympathetic. Emma was a tough one to read and to engage with. Hanne was probably my favorite, but she didn't get a lot of "air" time, so to speak.
My other problem is that I felt like I'd stumbled into this novel in the middle, as if I'd missed a previous novel, and this was the second novel in the series. Peter and Hanne apparently had had a relationship previously, which was then touched upon again, as was Hanne's Alzheimer's, but I felt like there wasn't a lot of resolution to either. It was just sort of inserted into the story without a lot of bearing on the actual mystery plot and seemed awkward. Same with some references to Peter's detective partner, Manfred, and his life.
Overall, this was an interesting thriller, and I really did find the plot intriguing and well thought out, for the most part. I enjoyed reading the portions where I was scratching my head, trying to figure out how everyone was connected. It was a little less enjoyable once I deduced most of it, and I wish I had related to the characters better, or understood how their backstories were woven in to the fabric of the actual mystery.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and Netgalley (thank you!) in return for an unbiased review; it is available everywhere as of 12/27/2016.
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