Review: The Ice Beneath Her by Camilla Grebe


Holy Nordic crime fiction, Batman!

Ughhh, please just completely ignore that I started this book review with a holy batman exclamation.

If you’re a fan of the aforementioned genre, you will love this novel. It’s really hit or miss for me, but this one is a hit.

Let’s start our bookworm asses at the beginning, shall we?

A unidentified, decapitated woman is found in the bed of a moderately famous, very wealthy CEO. And he, Jesper Orre, has seemingly disappeared.

DI Peter Lindgren is lead detective on the case. He’s a despondent, sullen character. He has an ex-wife who hates him and a troubled teenage son, whose issues could probably be traced back to his ongoing search for a connection with his father. Only time and again, he finds that Peter has been, and always will be, more interested in his job than his family.

Also lending us their insight is Hanne. She’s a former criminal profiler who has had to leave her career behind once the effects of her early onset dementia left her unable to do her job to the best of her ability. She’s stuck in a loveless marriage with a controlling man, and can’t even trust her own mind. So, when she’s asked to consult on the case of the headless woman, she says fuck it and finds her strength to make the leap into independence, despite her illness. Yas, girl! She was a total badass in a very classy, understated way. And I totally aspire to that. But for now I’m a messy contradiction swamp demon. But still…I’m aspiring.

Last is the perspective of the enigmatic Emma. Hers is the only POV which is told in the past, as she recounts her relationship with fiance Jasper Orre. A secret relationship, because he is her employer. Emma is sweet and naive, having gone through life being told that there is something odd about her, something different that has always made her feel alone. Until she meets Jasper and feels as though she’s found a kindred spirit.

My overwhelming urge to scream RUN BITCH RUN at Emma stayed with me through most of the book and that’s an interesting emotional level to maintain, I’ll tell you that. Sweet, poor, stupid Emma. Pinning all her hopes and dreams on a man because he makes her feel like a person who finally belongs?

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You do that for yourself. You love yourself, you belong to yourself.

But, I digress…because that’s really the crux of the story: What is real love? What kind of love do we accept? When does love become obsession? When does obsession lead to betrayal? And when does betrayal lead to anger and revenge? It’s deep, people! But I can’t really talk about it anymore without giving plot elements away.

Ultimately, the character voices in this one were strong and vivid and unique. The mystery is the body of the plot, but these characters are the heart that keeps everything working. They illicit honest emotion from the reader, with depth and attention. It is a clean and tight example of “show, don’t tell” writing, and expert pacing.

Is it a thrill ride? No. I won’t lie. But it is thoughtful and poignant and emotionally addictive. The true definition of a page turner, action packed or not.

And let’s talk about atmosphere just for a second, because this book is making it RAIN (no pun intended) with its cold and bleak autumn setting. I could feel it right through my leggings. Granted, leggings are pretty thin, but still.

This is a smart, well-plotted novel, that delivers a perfect ending of a plot-twist. I’m talking, like, a pick your jaw up off the floor, kick you in the crotch plot twist. Even for the most seasoned mystery fiction reader, the ending is evasive. Somehow you just keep missing what’s sneaking up behind you. And honestly, is there anything better than reading a book like this and being completely fooled?

“The detective story differs from every other story in this: that the reader is only happy if he feels a fool.” -GK Chesteron

Get your kicks, bookworms! And if anyone can let me know what the title has to do with anything, that would be swell.

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