Frozen Moment by Camilla Ceder

It was a pleasure to read Frozen Moment, Camilla Ceder’s début 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.

Publishers’ blurb:

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…

My view:

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 …

16 thoughts on “Frozen Moment by Camilla Ceder”

  1. Margaret,
    You put your finger on that often-elusive balance between enough detail to keep the reader informed and interested, etc., and so much detail that the story sags. It’s often, I think difficult to know exactly how much detail is the right amount. Still, that said, I’m very glad you enjoyed this one :-). Fine review

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  2. Thanks for the review. Sounds like an interesting new scandinavian author. The slowmoving start sounds like characterbuilding, at least I hope so.
    I wish you a happy new year 2011

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    1. I like the term, too. I think it just means a detective who is a policeman rather than a private investigator or amateur sleuth. So it can also include ‘suspense’.

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  3. Hi Margaret,

    I love the sound of this book, another good recommendation I think.

    I have a whole host of books by Scandinavian authors, sat in a separate pile, waiting to be read, so perhaps this will give me an incentive to start.

    They are all books that I have acquired for my father, who generally loves crime/detective fiction, but he has returned them all to me unread, as he just cannot get along with the Scandinavian authors style of writing, which he finds to be very similar across the board, regardless of the individual author.

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  4. This book is not out in the UK yet, but I am planning to read it when it is. Thanks for the review, which I’ll bookmark to come back to when I’ve read it.

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  5. Actually, the phrase “world-weary detective” makes me doubt that this may be yet another clone of Morse, Taggart, Rebus et al.. Would I be wrong in guessng that Tell is divorced, drinks too much, eats the wrong food, and has a nasty boss breathing down his neck for a speedy arrest? Or am I just a nasty suspicious person?

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    1. Joyce, well Tell has elements of all those aspects – his boss is rather remote and is terminally ill, his personal relationships are all in pieces and he has in inappropriate relationship with Seja which threatens his career etc, etc. But I think he is actually a more rounded character than I’ve made him seem.

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  6. I have been noticing this one around and it captivated me for the settings (Sweden, where my dear grandparents were born and raised), and the background of the author. I, too, had a career in social work, counseling, etc.

    This one is going on my TBR list. I have also enjoyed writing details and have had to pull back a bit to allow the plot to flow.

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