I’ve been in a reading rut for a while now. I keep borrowing books from my library and keep them sleeping on my table right until the due date then return them without reading them. I thought it would be the same when I borrowed Ice Queen by Nele Neuhaus translated by Steven T. Murray. Unexpectedly, I finished the book in a day.
The story is narrated from the point of view of multiple characters. They came into the story so abruptly, I wanted to punch someone. I calmed myself by concluding that the author was probably trying to set the scene. However, I’ve said this once and I’ll say this again, multiple point of views will give the story away. Not amazingly, the story development was predictable.
The main characters are Oliver Bodenstein and Pia Kirchhoff. Oliver is painfully mild. Pia is, well, I dislike her. She is shown to have great instinct but is quick to assume without leaving room for doubt. Together, there’re really slow on the uptake, I’m not sure how Oliver came to the conclusion that they made a great team together. The rest of the characters were shallow and predictable.
One thing that bothered me through the pages was the inconsistency when it came to the characters’ names. The characters were addressed by their first and last name alternatively. Confusing and annoying.
While evidently, I did not like the way the story was written, I did like the main story despite the fact that it was predictable. Remove some point of views and add some substantial characters and I feel like this book would have been so much better.
Apparently, this is the third book in a series but unfortunately, I couldn’t find the English version for the books prior to this. Sad.
Goodreads Insert: The body of 92-year-old Jossi Goldberg, Holocaust survivor and American citizen, is found shot to death execution style in his house near Frankfurt. A five-digit number is scrawled in blood at the murder scene. The autopsy reveals an old and unsuccessfully covered tattoo on the corpse’s arm—a blood type marker once used by Hitler’s SS. Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver Bodenstein are faced with a riddle. Was the old man not Jewish after all? Who was he, really? Two more, similar murders happen—one of a wheelchair-bound old lady in a nursing home, and one of a man with a cellar filled with Nazi paraphernalia—and slowly the connections between the victims becomes evident: All of them were lifelong friends with Vera von Kaltensee, baroness, well-respected philanthropist, and head of an old, rich family that she rules with an iron fist. Pia and Oliver follow the trail, which leads them all the way back to the end of World War II and the area of Poland that then belonged to East Prussia. No one is who they claim to be, and things only begin to make sense when the two investigators realize what the bloody number stands for, and uncover an old diary and an eyewitness who is finally willing to come forward.
Nele Neuhaus’s The Ice Queen is a character- and plot-driven (Note this!) mystery about revenge, power, and long-forgotten and covered up secrets from a time in German history that still affects the present.