Frozen Moment is the debut novel of Swedish writer Camilla Ceder. Born in 1976, a social worker as well as an author, Ceder lives in Gothenburg. Fruset ögonblick (Swedish title) was published in 2009 in Swedish, and in the fall of 2010 her second book, Babylon, will be published in Swedish.
The main protagonist in Camilla Ceder’s books is Inspector Christian Tell – a team worker who has good relations with his people, is highly intelligent and driven, yet quite fallible and in some ways ordinary. In many ways I view him as a mix of about equal parts of Ake Edwardson’s Erik Winter, Gunnar Staalesen’s Varg Veum and Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander. Another key character in Frozen Moment is Seja Lundberg, a journalism student who is somewhat lonely, very curious and untraditional, and a free spirit.
The story pushes off with a brutal murder. The owner of a car repair business is found dead. He has been shot in his head and his lower body is crushed by a car that has driven over it repeatedly. The investigation is headed by Inspector Christian Tell. The investigators quickly find that the wife of the man had been away on vacation and could not have done it. There are some traces of evidence at the murder scene, but there is very little to go on, and as the police run down the trails of what little evidence they have, very little comes of it.
A second man is murdered in a very similar fashion. Again there are few traces of the killer. Tell and his team start to look for a connection between the victims, thinking that there must be something that links them, and that if they dig deep enough they will be able to find it.
Meanwhile, Seja Lundberg, a peripheral witness in the first murder case, thinks a long-unsolved mystery may hold the key to the crimes. Inspector Christian Tell is attracted to Seja, but knows he should keep his distance, as she is a witness, but he doesn’t. Even so he has a feeling something isn’t quite what it seems, relative to her presence at the crime scene. However, she is lonely and fascinating; he longs for love, and ultimately falls hard for her.
Frozen Moment is a well-plotted and interesting crime fiction novel, well translated into English by Marlaine Delargy. The cover of my copy of the book proclaims `Move over Wallander..’ Camilla Ceder is not quite there yet – and I guess one shouldn’t blame her for the marketing – but she has written a solid, intriguing, and somewhat suspenseful police procedural that holds considerable promise for more good work to come.
Frozen Moment is a novel with a very distinct sense of place – very evocative and atmospheric, with quite well-developed characters, a good understanding of and ability to communicate angst and inner thoughts, and good side stories. Even though it takes a little while to suck you in, the book is entertaining and the plot has some twists that are quite original and unexpected. Camilla Ceder may not yet be a Helene Tursten, Mari Jungstedt, Camilla Lackberg or Liza Marklund, but overall Frozen Moment is a crime fiction debut novel well worth reading, from an author worth watching!