I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
One December morning in a small rural town on the Swedish coast, Ake Melkersson is on his way to work when his car breaks down. He spots a garage nearby, but as he approaches he realizes something is wrong. The owner of the garage lies dead, sprawled on the ground, his lower body crushed where a car has repeatedly driven over him. The murder investigation is led by Inspector Christian Tell, known as something of a lone wolf, but he has very few clues to go on and the deceased's wife is out of the country on holiday. Cut to 10 years earlier—Maya Granith is living at a college for troubled teenagers after escaping her shattered home and her neurotic mother. But when an older student takes an overbearing interest in her things begin to go wrong. Back in the present, another murder occurs when a man is shot in the head; again his body is driven over several times. Tell is becoming increasingly involved with a reporter but their relationship is complicated—especially when aspects of the case remind the reporter of someone she knew who went missing 10 years earlier.
You would never know from Nordic mysteries that the Scandinavian countries rate highly on the lists of the world's happiest countries! There are more unhappy marriages, failed love affairs, psychologically fragile or unbalanced people, and miserable work careers per page that you can shake a stick at.
Mind you, my sister works at a court house here in Alberta--she tells me that no one EVER comes to the court house for a happy reason and that they have a lot of "frequent flyers" who she now knows by sight and can recount their rap-sheets. I imagine that working as a homicide detective would entail the same limitations--you are never dealing with a happy family and there will be some unhappy facts to face.
This first novel from Ceder seems to be a study in the many ways that a person can be lonely. Have a job that takes up too much of your time and attention to the detriment of your relationships? Have a mental illness that causes even your children to hate you? Have an abusive background that has warped your life in significant ways? Welcome to Frozen Moment, we have a character for you.
Two parallel stories play out as the novel progresses, encouraging the reader to figure out how they intersect. The interplay between present and past is tantalizing and keeps the pages turning even as the stereotypical homicide detective navigates his way through the crime scene and investigation. As usual in Scandinavian fiction, there is tension between the male & female members of the police force and tension between genetic Scandinavians and immigrants.
I will be very interested to read the further adventures of Christian Tell.