It was a pleasure to read Frozen Moment, Camilla Ceder’s dÃ©but novel, a police procedural set in Sweden. It is centred on the characters as much as on the plot. Camilla Ceder has studied social science and psychotherapy and as well as writing works in counselling and social work and this comes out quite strongly in this book.
One cold morning, in the wind-lashed Swedish countryside, a man’s body is found in an isolated garage. The victim has been shot in the head and run over repeatedly by a car. Inspector Christian Tell, a world-weary detective with a chequered past, is called to the scene. But there are few clues to go by, and no one seems to be telling the truth.
Then, a second brutal murder. The method is the same, but this victim has no apparent connection with the first. Tell’s team is baffled.
Seja, a reporter and witness, thinks a long-unsolved mystery may hold the key to the killings. Tell is drawn to Seja, but her presences at the crime scene doesn’t add up, and a relationship could jeopardise everything. For the inquiry to succeed, the community must yield the dark secrets of the past…
I liked this book straight away from the opening scenes describing how Ake Melkersson woke up and got ready for his last day at work and the shock he had on finding the dead man:
He’s only half a man, thought Ake Melkersson, a hysterical, terrified giggle rising in his chest. He’s flat, half of him smeared over the gravel. He thought back to the cartoons of his childhood, in which characters were always getting run over by steamrollers, ending up as flat as pancakes. There was never any blood in the cartoons, but there was blood here, collected in a hollow in the gravel around the man’s head, like a gory halo. (page 5)
After that it seemed to stall for a while and I was beginning to wonder if the plot would ever get going. A few chapters further on and I was relieved to find that it did. At times I felt the descriptions of the characters, their thoughts and motives were too detailed and I wanted the action to speed up, but by the end of the book I was converted to Ceder’s style. There is a strong sense of place – the atmosphere of a bleak, and cold Scandinavian winter is well drawn.
I hope Ceder writes more books about Inspector Tell and his team, even if he is yet another detective who likes to work on his own, who is lonely and introspective, who can’t sleep well, smokes and likes a whisky or two …