Book Reviews

Head North

Title: The Ice Beneath Her
Author: Camilla Grebe
Translator: Elizabeth Clark Wessel
Publisher: Bonnier Publishing –  Zaffre
Release date: September 8th 2016
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Take a trip to the north, they said. It will be worth it, they said.
Well, it was!
I cannot believe I stayed stuck between the UK and the US for so long. Who knew Sweden had brilliant crime stories to offer you? (not me, apparently…)

I opened this book with little information beside my love for the beautiful and poetic cover and a blurb I had skimmed a couple of weeks before. Now I am seriously considering not reading blurbs when faced with a cover love. It is like going on a blind date. And you know what? The night I read The Ice Beneath Her, I hit the jackpot!

My love for thrillers and crime is strong and being my favorite genres, I am starting to get picky about the books entering this category. You know how it is. You read a brilliant thriller – two in a row if you’re lucky, and then the next one needs its best game to win you over. Camilla Grebe offers you just that. The Best Game. I don’t even know where to start.

A beheaded young woman. A rich CEO missing. This is all you need to know. Now grab a copy!

Right from the start, you understand you are in capable hands. I am a sucker for rules and I LOVED the simple detail of the characters putting on gloves and shoe covers before entering the crime scene. A detail yes, but a very important one. I mean, how many times have I sighed at the TV because the so-called experts would leave their hair unattached or touch important evidence with their greasy dirty little fingers? Even if it sounds less obvious in books, the fact that the author thought about adding it makes all the difference to me. And she does not stop here. Throughout the book, you are confronted with the reality of an investigation, the long nights, the curve balls, the procedure, the wait for results. It all feels real. The writing is pure and flows so easily I forgot I was reading words. They were all replaced by the images suggested by the author. I could have done without the image of a beheaded woman in my mind for the rest of the night, but this is my only complaint!

We are no more than society’s cleaning crew, tying up loose ends after the fabric frays and the unthinkable has already happened.

The characters are not neglected. The story is told through three different points of view. While sometimes it makes it difficult to connect with a character or to differentiate the voices, everything is crystal clear in The Ice Beneath Her. Scary clear. Hanne, Peter, and Emma are brilliantly crafted characters. I could instantly tell by the different emotions they sparked in me with every chapter. I was particularly touched by Hanne’s story, and the accuracy of her feelings was so good that even a couple of weeks after reading the book, I still vividly remember how she made me feel. I won’t give any more details because it would be depriving you of the pleasure of meeting them on your own. Every one of them has a story, every one of them has issues, and every one of them could be the person you just walked by on your way to the supermarket.

Love is a reflex, I think. Something we just do, like sleeping or eating. And maybe we fall in love with what feels familiar, like home.

Because this story is not about an investigation. This is a story about people connected by an investigation. The murder of a young woman and the disappearance of a rich man comes as an event in their lives. The book revolves around the lives of the characters, the author only throws in an investigation in the middle. This is a perfect reflection of life and of its way of getting in the way. Life is happening, enveloping the story, not the other way around. Working on a murder does not mean everything else disappears. You still have a family, you still have to come home, you still have to face whatever is thrown your way. The balance between the characters’ private lives and the investigation was so good that I was engrossed from the start and did not manage to stop reading until I reached the end. Hints are thrown your way all along and I figured what had happened around the 50% mark, but I was too involved with the characters to get bored, and that is the beauty of this story.

Longing is an excellent way to measure the value of what you have lost — a currency as reliable as any other.

Now I am curious about how to pronounce those Swedish names and places. Anyone fluent enough in the language to teach me?

The Ice Beneath Her has everything you look for in a thriller, even the things you are not aware you want.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

36 thoughts on “Head North”

  1. I’m glad you discovered the Scandinavian magic 🙂 They can write awesome stuff up north 🙂
    I need to check this book out and I have loads of Icelandic authors I want to read as well… The Ice Beneath Her sounds like something I should prioritise thanks to your wonderful review 🙂

    I actually studied Swedish for 3 years in highschool- Estonia has one of those little corners where place names are written in Estonian and in Swedish because of their cultural influence in the area. Not a difficult language to learn, actually… Have you been to any Scandinavian countries? My, Every time I pass through or visit I’m in awe of what the population looks like… just, o_O, they’re all so good looking up there in the North 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so glad The Ice Beneath Her has opened a new door for me, I just can’t wait to discover more. Do you have any recommendations for me? 🙂 Your high school offered Swedish? This is awesome. I did a year of Russian but the teacher was an old alcoholic who always forgot the classes so I gave up. I’ve never been to a Scandinavian country, I don’t even know much about the subject, but I am immensely curious now. The cold keeps people beautiful! 😀

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I came across, some while back, Ragnar Jonasson, author of Dark Iceland series… nordic noir it’s called I think which made me quite intrigued.

        Hahaha… the Russian teacher sets a stereotype there with love for booze 😀 Pity about that though, that’s not good form of the teacher at all…

        You’re right, the cold does keep the young and so darned pretty… Last year I was passing through Copenhagen airport and I was quite frankly staring at the people there- i felt like on a different planet (comparing to Ireland anyway) the dress-code, the facial features, etc…


  2. Oh, this sounds really good. I love thrillers, but as you say, you need to be on the look out for good ones. A couple of poor plots and uninspiring characters can really burn you in this genre.


    1. Exactly. There are so many thriller titles now that you can lose yourself forever in a sea of okay books. It feels really good when you discover a gem 🙂


  3. I love when the narration is actually told through alternating perspectives and done well. It keeps things so interesting and can do wonders for the pace! I admit, I am only halfway through my coffee and had to reread the bit about a trip to the North haha. I was like.. what has she been away?! Love the review Donna!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! <3<3 My TBR is 80% filled with thrillers, I need to be careful and mix genres a little more! There's been so many thrillers to choose from that I am starting to feel a little crazy!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Amazing review, so complete! I love what you said about it being about people connected by an investigation, that’s great! Now I’m reading a police procedural and I’ve realized there had been some time since I read one and I LOVE THEM. Camilla Lackberg is awesome, from Sweden too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! 🙂 I really liked the fact the characters had a lot going on beside the investigation, and that even though the murder had a huge part in the story, there were different things happening that made it look like life 🙂 LOVE FOR POLICE PROCEDURAL BOOKS! I have heard of Camilla Lackberg, she’s at the top my wish list now 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Your review is great!! I laughed when you started talking about rules because I’m the same way! Especially when watching crime movies or shows. This sounds awesome though, and the cover is beautiful. I’ll have to check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sweden has amazing crime novels for sure!! Have you read Stieg Larson’s Millenium trilogy yet? One of the most exciting thrillers involving journalism that I have read, well, ever :D. Amazing review dear! 5 stars and great character investment? Count me in!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never read Millenium because of all the hype around it! I was so tired of seeing it mentioned on TV all the time, but with a recommendation from you, I can only give it a try 😀 Thank you! ❤ The characters are so complex and the story well-crafted that for once I did not mind figuring out the plot a little sooner than expected!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, Sweden has the best crime writers in the world!
    At least that’s what they say in my country. Swedish authors are so popular here, it’s insane!
    People even started to learn Swedish for fun.
    I personally blame Stieg Larson and Jo Nesbo! 😛


  8. This sounds great. I had the option of reading this book or 34 days by Anita Waller. I didn’t pick this one because I have been avoiding police procedural of late but I definitely made the wrong choice. I have to go get it now. It sounds awesome. I get what you mean about the rules, I don’t notice it as much on books like on TV Shows but that always gets to me.


    1. I can only recommend this one, it had a huge effect on me, the mix of a great writing style, a respect for realistic procedure, and a good plot makes for a book you shouldn’t miss! 🙂 I’m a sucker for rules, that’s why I avoid TV shows now!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.