The Ice Cageby Olivier Nilsson-Julien Published 16 Jul 2012
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If you liked Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy, Henning Mankell’s Wallander series or Jo Nesbø’s Harry Hole, you might also like Magnus Sandberg, a Londoner returning to Scandinavia to bury his estranged father, only to discover that he has been murdered. Tracking down the killer, Magnus is caught up in a battle with a nationalist plot to bring down the country.
Magnus isn't Lisbeth Salander or Harry Hole, he is an ordinary guy, a reluctant action hero setting out to understand his father, but ending up in a deadly face-off with a mass murderer.
Magnus left Scandinavia as a child when his parents divorced and hasn’t been back since, so The Ice Cage is also about Magnus rediscovering his lost Nordic side - the man he could have been, the life he could have lived if he hadn’t moved to London as a child. Magnus has to come to terms with the past and pick up the threads of a parallel life with the help of local police officer Eva – the real action hero.
The Ice Cage is a gripping journey with a cinematic feel, great characters, edgy storytelling and sharp insights into Scandinavian life - thoughtful, entertaining and pacy at the same time. Unlike most Scandinavian thrillers, it's told from a British point of view, offering a dark, powerful and even humorous look at modern-day Nordic society.
"The Ice Cage" Reviews
I haven't read any other reviews of this one yet, but I'm curious to see if anyone actually enjoyed it. Sometimes dislike of a book is hard to rationalise. Rather like the taste of certain foods, I just don't like them but can't for the life of me say why. On the surface, this would be the sort of thing I'd enjoy: ice, snow, Scandinavian setting, mysterious death. And yet I started disliking it very quickly, ploughed on but got increasing bored with it, read another three books rather than return to it, but then at 80% finally admitted defeat. I even went to the bother of examining the grammar: were the tenses all mixed up rather than me being defeated? They didn't seem to be. The plot was barking mad, so that didn't help, and the author's political agenda seemed to be thrust down the reader's throat with as little subtlety as a John Oliver opinion piece. But I'm a adult, I can read a left wing piece of nonsense without a consequent snowflake dissolve. So I'm still rather puzzled by my reaction to this bit of awful writing. All I can say is, if you like Scandinavian noir, don't believe the blurb on this and bother shelling out money for it. Maybe get it from a library and try it that way if you must. It's awful. Really badly written and pretty boring. Did not finish.
I have often asked this question when reading a twisted plot or intriguing mystery: who is it that stays awake late at night dreaming up this stuff? One of those late-night dreamer-uppers is Olivier Nilsson-julien. This one is beyond imagining unless you are gifted at creating evil motives, sick killers, and equally sick killing methods. Now drop all of that into a thick soup of political anger and you have a plot generously laced with pain, death, fear, and context heavy action. The story relises heavily on the geography and the accompanying environment including weather, temp, fog. There's a dead body that our protagonist doesn't believe is dead by accident. There's a fair bit of confusion about good guys and bad guys and which are which. There's a wild and terrifying sail across a frozen lake and river channel. And at the end there's he promise of a next story showcasing our intrepid protagonist once again.
Good story. Nice to have a well-balanced, sensitive lead for once.
Also liked the female character (Eva). For me she was the star. Read
it in one go - efficient and economic writing that gets straight to
the point without endless descriptions. My kind of book!
This is a thriller of a mystery. Really liked it.
This story begins with Magnus Sandberg returning, after twenty years in London, to the Åland archipelago between Sweden and Finland so he can attend to arrangements for his father's funeral. Magnus and his mother left Åland when Magnus was ten, so he really didn't know his father very well. But almost immediately upon his arrival, Magnus' suspicions are aroused, and he soon becomes embroiled in an elaborate plot to assassinate the Swedish king.
Although all that happens to Magnus during the time he's "home," is a mighty big stretch, the fact that Åland belongs to Finland but is more Swedish in culture, provides the reader with an interesting political back story. I quite enjoyed the book.
Great read, very atmospheric. Sucks you into the landscape - really made me want to go to those islands in the Baltic Sea. Wouldn’t want the cold swims though. Although there’s a plot with gripping action sequences, the story takes the time to develop the characters. The only thing that disturbed me was the ‘villain’. Always find it
difficult to accept that people can be so twisted and mad. Of course these people exist (see what happened in Norway). All in all I thought the book gave a warm impression of the local community. In spite of the dark plot, cultural observations were made with a deadpan sense of humour.