Frozen Moment by Camilla Ceder

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Frozen Moment by Camilla Ceder

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Touted as the new kid on the Nordic crime writing block, this debut novel needs a little perseverance but is worth the effort and Ceder is definitely someone to watch.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: August 2010
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
ISBN: 978-0297859475

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One cold, dark morning in December 2006 a man was driving to work when he began to have problems with his car. It was a fairly deserted part of the Swedish coast but he had vague memories of a car-repair business in the area. When he limped his car in there he discovered a body: the man had been shot in the head and his lower body crushed as a car had been driven over it. The man panicked and called his neighbour for help. Seja was a trainee reporter and when she arrived she was fascinated by the murder victim, but her lies to Inspector Christian Tell are soon discovered. It's not the end of the matter though as there's an immediate attraction between Seja and Tell – and he's well aware that he's breaking all the rules by getting into a relationship with a witness and even a potential suspect.

Then there was a second murder. Another man had been shot in the head and his lower body crushed as a car was reversed over it. There must be a connection between the two cases, but Tell and his team struggle to find a link.

Move over Wallander it says on the cover. The new kid on the Nordic crime writing block I'm told and immediately my expectations are high. I wish they hadn't been because then I might have been surprised by a very good story with some decent twists and red herrings. Tell might be a lone wolf but he's not as good as Wallander – but then thinking back, the first Wallander novel was something short of perfection too and the weight of my expectations was just too high.

My problem was that the story had a very slow start. By the time that I was half way through the book I still hadn't really got Tell's team sorted out in my own mind and wasn't quite sure where the plot was going. At one point I even left the book and read something else in the hope that I could come back to it with a fresh mind. There are two stories, you see – one concerning the murder investigation in 2006 and the other dating back to the nineteen-nineties. There was obviously going to be a connection between the two, but I almost reached the point of not caring.

But then, magically, it all began to come together and the second half of the book rolled along at a fine pace. Towards the end I couldn't put it down, particularly when there were some very unexpected twists. Add to this a depiction of the Swedish countryside which rivals Mankell at his best and you have a very atmospheric book. Camilla Ceder might not be ready to move Wallander out of the way just yet, but she's definitely a writer to watch and I'm looking forward to the next Christian Tell book.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

For more from Sweden Henning Mankell is the obvious choice, but you might also enjoy Missing by Karin Alvtegen. If you're prepared to look to Norway then you'll love Karin Fossum or for crime by a Swedish writer but set in an unnamed location, try Hakan Nesser.

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