Review: Frozen Moment by Camilla Ceder

My first book for the 2011 Nordic Book Challenge takes place in Sweden over a cold Christmas/New Year period.

In the countryside of western Sweden an elderly man, Åke Melkersson, is looking for a mechanic to carry out emergency repairs to his car when he discovers the body of a man who has been shot and, for good measure, run over. Melkersson is so shocked he drives away but then calls police and asks his young neighbour Seja Lundberg to take him back to the site. The investigation team is led by Inspector Christian Tell, a complex character who is troubled by the lack of evidence available to progress the investigation which stalls until a second murder is linked to it. Alongside this narrative there are chapters from 1993 which tell a story about troubled young girl called Maya who left home at 15 due in part to the mental illness and drug addiction of her mother. Although readers assume Maya’s story is something to do with the present-day murders, Ceder does a great job of drawing us into the initially unconnected story

Ceder is very good at depicting characters. From the very first one we meet, Åke Melkersson who is driving to work for the last time before his retirement, she shows us a very realistic and complete picture, even though we see virtually nothing of this character again. The central characters are drawn with the same care, though obviously fleshed out more fully. In some ways Christian Tell offers nothing terribly unique, he is something of a loner and very introspective, but I like the way Ceder explores his working relationships alongside his personal ones and admire the fact she resisted the temptation to give him any extreme characteristics. There are memorable and interesting characters among Tell’s team who I’m sure I will enjoy getting to know further in future installments of the series. I also thought the characters in the second thread were compelling, especially Maya’s mother.

Overall the plot of Frozen Moment is intriguing, though after the initial chapters it did drag for a little while as the introductions all took place and the investigation seemed to go in circles for a little while. However once it picked up again there was a good build up of suspense and a genuinely engaging and layered story was revealed. I’m not sure that the ‘move over Wallander’ tag prominently displayed on the front cover of the book applies, or even needs to apply for that matter, but I enjoyed this series debut and will be keen to read the second novel, Babylon, when it is translated into English.

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Frozen Moment has been reviewed at Books Please, DJ’s Krimiblog and Material Witness

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

My rating 3.5/5
Author website http://camillaceder.com/ (though the whole thing is in Swedish, google translate makes it interesting)
Translator Marlaine Delargy
Publisher Weidendeld & Nicholson [English translation 2010, original edition 2009]
ISBN 9780297859499
Length 378 pages
Format trade paberback
Book Series The first book in a new series
Source I bought it

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This entry was posted in book review, Camilla Ceder, Nordic Challenge 2011, Sweden. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Review: Frozen Moment by Camilla Ceder

  1. Bernadette – Thanks, as always, for such a thoughtful review. You make such an interesting point that one writer doesn’t have to “move over” for another. TBR list or no TBR list ;-), there’s always room for a talented writer. And this book does sound like an enjoyable read. I’m going to look for this one.

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  2. BooksPlease says:

    I thought the Wallander reference was annoying and unnecessary. I didn’t know she has a second book – hope it’s translated soon.

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  3. Dorte H says:

    I wonder whether the publishers will ever figure out that such a tag might backfire – and I am sure no one asked Camilla Ceder what she thought.

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  4. Zee says:

    It is interesting that despite the popularity of Scandinavian crime fiction the publisher still found it necessary to add that tag. It sounds like the book could stand on its own merits! You have given me something to think about.

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  7. Maxine says:

    Now I’ve read the book, I’ve read your review and, as usual, enjoyed it. I think I liked the book a bit more than you, though agree it was slow. I liked the slowness. There wasn’t much of a mystery to it, so it relied on atmosphere. I was quite shocked by all the dysfunctional and mentally ill families and people that emerged via social services and otherwise as the book progressed. Very sad.

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