Camilla Ceder – Frozen Moment

One of the strengths of Scandinavian crime fiction is the role that the landscape plays in shaping the narrative. In some of the strongest crime novels coming from Scandinavia, including Mons Kallentoft’s Midwinter Sacrifice and Jorn Lier Horst’s Dregs, isolated communities, and the secrets buried within them, are at the heart of the plotting. This theme is continued in Camilla Ceder’s Frozen Moment where a crime committed fifteen years earlier is revisited  and atoned in the present day.

It is December in a small town in the Gothenburg region and a local garage owner has been shot in the head and then repeatedly run over by a car. Inspector Christian Tell is called in to investigate the strange killing which may have its origins in a local family feud. When a second man is killed in similar circumstances however, Tell has to look beyond the confines of the community and try and link the two murders.

Local journalist Seja Lundberg is attracted to Inspector Tell but has her own secrets. She recognises the first victim and slowly becomes aware that events of fifteen years earlier play a key role in the crime. She must then try to resolve her own involvement in the case with her burgeoning relationship with Tell. He in the meantime is uncomfortable at becoming involved with a witness and finally realise that Seja knows more than she is revealing.

This was a very interesting, albeit slow read where the isolated, icy community dominated the narrative descriptions. I had a strong visual sense of the landscape and the isolation felt by those in such a small community. Another strength of the book was the relationship between Christian and Seja, two older people who have had their share of failed relationships but are attempting to develop something new.

The crime story was well plotted although the parallel story of Maya Granith, set in 1993 I found less interesting. The fact that it was narrated from the victim’s point of view meant that it was a shock when she was killed although this did mean her personality hung over the subsequent narrative .

I found the book an interesting, slowly unfolding read which stayed with me for a long time. I thought the translation by Marlaine Delargy was excellent and am looking forward to future books by this writer.

The book has also been reviewed at the Nordic Book Blog, Reactions to Reading and Eurocrime.

8 thoughts on “Camilla Ceder – Frozen Moment

  1. Lovely review, Sarah. I liked this book a lot, it seemed very well written for a debut novel. I really liked the slow-build-up of the dynamics between the policemen (esp the lack of “joined-up-ness between different areas) and the character of Seja. I agree that the Maya plot was less interesting. The location was just so well done here, I think. Marlaine Delargy is one of my favourite translators, she has done the earlier Asa Larssons so sympathetically and does a brilliant job with Johan Theorin. She also translated an unusual Swedish novel, not really crime or SF, but I liked it a lot – The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist. (Which I already passed on to a friend, sorry, or I’d offer you my copy.)

    • I’m not that au fait with translators Maxine but I must have come across her before as I like both Asa Larsson and Theorin. It’s funny as I don’t speak Swedish but you can tell when a translation is well done.

  2. Sarah – An excellent review! You’re quite right that part of the appeal of novels like this is the sense of isolated atmosphere. And it’s interesting you would mention the pace, too. That slower pace and buildup work well in this kind of story. It allows for better character development I think and in this case, that and the setting are two really strong aspects of the story.

  3. This book sounds very interesting, and I haven’t heard of it before. US marketing of Scandinavian books is almost always, “This is the next Stieg Larsson,” and anything unlike his stuff falls by the wayside.

    • It’s funny Rebecca but the front cover says ‘A woman’s take on Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander.’ It’s not true but clearly the Stieg Larsson tag sells books.

  4. Pingback: The Best of April’s Reading. « crimepieces

  5. Pingback: Review: Camilla Ceder – Babylon « crimepieces

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