Book Review: The Ice Beneath Her, by Camilla Grebe

Publisher:  Bonnier Zaffre

Publication Date:  8th September 2016

the-ice-beneath-her-my-review

A monster is a person who lies and deceives. Someone who wrecks and destroys things for their own amusement. Who leaves another person’s life in ruins like a bombed-out city or a burnt-down forest.

the-ice-beneath-her-by-camilla-glebe-coverSuch a powerful quote, and a theme that echoes throughout The Ice Beneath Her. This book is crawling with psychological monsters feeding off the characters in so many ways. Their empty shells are rattling with disappointment, regret, and fading motivation. As their deluded existence is laid bare they will have courageous choices to make: face the monsters and set themselves free, or do nothing and be devoured by them.

On the surface the plot appears straightforward enough: A decapitated young woman is discovered at a property and the police are not only struggling to discover her identity but also the whereabouts of the house owner and chief suspect, a high-flying executive who’s used to getting what he wants. But don’t be fooled by its simplicity as it’s very, very sneaky!

Something about the crime scene strikes a chord with a police profiler hiding a secret – Hanne has early onset Dementia and she’s afraid she’ll trip herself up and forget basic facts, so she jots prompts on her trusty notepad to help her recall. Her condition isn’t helped by her other half’s patronising attitude, which threatens to erase her personality before its time. And then there’s Peter Lindgren, one of the investigators, and his awkward, heartbroken history. Or should I say emotionally isolated Peter, with his lanky legs a step away from commitment throughout his entire life.

The narrative switches between profiler, investigator, suspect, and victim to build a complete picture of their obsessions, passions, and the traumatic events leading up to the crime scene. As chapter numbers are replaced by a character’s name to let you know whose stream of thought continues, I felt an intensely personal connection to each of them during their moments of clarity and despair, particularly Hanne’s:

Hope is an overrated life raft that sick people are expected to cling to with a brave and grateful smile. Letting go is apparently not only foolhardy, but disloyal.

But I’m just so tired of being loyal.

The prose is startlingly calm as it steers the characters through their personal torment until their transformations are as unpredictable as the final outcome. That ending pulled the rug from under my feet, and I never suspected a thing.

Rating:  4/5

(I received a copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review, with my thanks.)

the-ice-beneath-her-book-summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

For fans of Jo Nesbo and The Bridge, The Ice Beneath Her is a gripping and deeply disturbing story about love, betrayal and obsession that is impossible to put down. Fast-paced and peopled with compelling characters, it surprises at every turn as it hurtles towards an unforgettable ending with a twist you really won’t see coming . . .

A young woman is found beheaded in an infamous business tycoon’s marble-lined hallway.

The businessman, scandal-ridden CEO of the retail chain Clothes & More, is missing without a trace.

But who is the dead woman? And who is the brutal killer who wielded the machete?

Rewind two months earlier to meet Emma Bohman, a sales assistant for Clothes & More, whose life is turned upside down by a chance encounter with Jesper Orre. Insisting that their love affair is kept secret, he shakes Emma’s world a second time when he suddenly leaves her with no explanation.

As frightening things begin to happen to Emma, she suspects Jesper is responsible. But why does he want to hurt her? And how far would he go to silence his secret lover?

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the-ice-beneath-her-author-profile

(Courtesy of Publisher’s Press Release)

Camilla Grebe was born near Stockholm. She co-founded audiobook publisher Storyside. She has written four celebrated crime novels with her sister, Åsa Träff, about psychologist Siri Bergman, the first two of which were nominated for Swedish Crime Novel of the Year by the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy. Camilla has also written the popular Moscow Noir trilogy with Paul Leander-Engström. The Ice Beneath Her is her debut novel as a solo author and announces hers as a fresh new voice in suspense writing.

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