Anna Ihrén’s thriller “Death of an Ice Fisherman”

All here remember the ice winter of 1942, on the island of Smögen on the Swedish west coast it is downright an identity-forming myth. Now, for the first time since that year, temperatures are falling to almost minus thirty degrees, and although not as many fishermen are disappearing on the ice as they were seventy years ago, a scientist is lying dead on his research vessel. The renowned oceanographer Kaj Malmberg, whose corpse is reminiscent of a hedgehog: there are twenty-four knives in his body.

“Death of an ice fisherman” is the second case of investigator Dennis Wilhelmson, who was transferred to the province after starting his career with the Gothenburg special task force. To the small archipelago island, just a few kilometers south of Fjällbacka, where the crime novels by Camilla Läckberg are set. In summer, bathing holidaymakers romp about, in winter only those who prefer to be among themselves anyway. Here Dennis has to mimic the village policeman, stick to the islanders who know the country and its people better than he does.

Clever microsociology

The Swedish bestselling author Anna Ihrén juggles with an enormous ensemble of figures in “Death of an Ice Fisherman”: In addition to Dennis and his colleague Sandra, a handful of other police officers are involved in the case, as well as the relatives of the victim and the crew on board the “Idun”, Dennis’ own family and a few other islanders. But what initially threatens to blow up turns out to be a cleverly developed microsociology. Quickly changing perspectives, Ihrén works on the background of the characters and gladly accepts that the investigation of the murder will not go well for a long time.


Anna Ihrén: “Death of an Ice Fisherman”. Detective novel.
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Bild: Harper Collins Germany

Even the investigators are only really gripped by the case when three quarters of the pages have already been read; beforehand they deal with ex-girlfriends and the preparations for a wedding. But that doesn’t speak against the “death of an ice fisherman”. Even if not every subplot feels absolutely necessary, not every thread is seamlessly tied in, not every confusing tactic works, but yours does justice to an undeniable charm of provincial thriller: Based on very specific historical, cultural, geographical characteristics, it gets to grips with what it is like feels like being involved. Integrated as an individual in a family and social context, as an institution in international relations, as a secluded stretch of land in the course of the world, the progress of history.

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