The Ice Swimmer

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Dec 2018

Member Reviews

Detective Lena Stigersand is responsible for a case involving the drowning of a man in Oslo’s Harbor.
As she and her colleagues begin to investigate, the bodies begin to pile up. Keeping track of all the characters in this book becomes complicated.
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This is the sixth English translation from a police procedural series set in Oslo. For those who've followed the series, the ensemble of characters and their relationships is likely familiar. The lead protagonist this time is Lena Stigersand, who's tidying up the probably accidental death of man who toppled into the harbor. A few too many drinks, a brutally cold night . . . but something's going on, because a politician is furious when Lena asks her about the dinner she had with the victim, and the higher ups want her to back off. Meanwhile, a drug-addicted woman has died in a train tunnel, evidently  a suicide that . . . isn't. It turns out she was pursued into the tunnel, and she likely knew something about how the man ended up in the harbor. Along with putting together the case, there are some dynamics among the detectives that factor into the story, and Lena herself has quite a lot going on in her personal life.

I found the book a bit of a plod, though that was probably my mood, not the book - Publisher's Weekly gave it a starred review. I was also (unreasonably?) irritated with Lena for being attracted to and quickly involved with a journalist who seemed to be obviously in it for himself. It seemed immature and he was not portrayed as being so clearly attractive that I was persuaded a cop would fall for him so easily. The final pages, that explain the title, seemed different in tone and a bit tacked-on, but that's just me being grumpy.
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Classic nordic noir! It's got a troubled detective (Lena), a mysterious death, political issues, and a twisty plot that will confound you until suddenly all becomes clear.  This one though also has some really interesting asides into food which isn't something I've seen in other books in the genre.  It's also a bit different in that it doesn't get too gory and Lena has the benefit of two good colleagues.  Make no mistake, it's dark but not as dark as some.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  Although this is a series, it's a series in which each book can easily and happily be read as a standalone, which is good because they have not all been published in English.
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A smart procedural mystery with characters that were relatable and likable. The plot gets a bit thick with the introduction of an international element. Otherwise, it's a series I would follow.

Copy provided by the Publisher and NetGalley
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I like the way Kjell ended his story, hint, read the book. It was quite obvious that Lena was a person that would do whatever it took to come out ahead in what ever was to be accomplished. Gunnarstranda was on her side with most of what she said, and was a father figure to her as far as Rindal, their boss, was concerned. Gunnarstranda always had the advice that swayed her into making the right choice, except in figuring out who the killer was. I like Kjell's story and the play between Lena and Steffen, it was very realistic in it's action, in what played out between them. I gave this story 4 out of 5 stars because it was more realistic than most.
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There's something about the Norwegian crime dramas that piques my interest every time and this one was a good one! This is a police procedural that gets pretty complicated and at times a little confusing, but once you get things sorted out in your head it is a good read. Lena Stigersand is an interesting detective who has just found out she has cancer as she is facing this very challenging case. Although I liked the character I found her a little strange. The very last scene in the book I found extremely strange and I really didn't like that part and just felt it was just too weird.

Thanks to Kjell Ola Dahl and Trafalgar Square Publishing through Netgalley for an advance copy of this book.
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Air of intrigue. Sense of Anxiety. Dark and Mysterious. Complex and Deep. Madness at its finest.
These are just some of what you'll experience as you feel as though you're unable to catch a breath, sinking ever so slowly, trying to reach the surface, only to be swiftly taken back down.
The intensity, the depth, the allure of the unknown is what captivates readers to Kjell Ola Dahl and it's what kept me locked in .
Amazing work with The Ice Swimmer as we wonder if it's even possible to disguise murder as suicide.
On the run with no place to hide, pushed in front of a moving train, confessions in exchange for further information.
This has everything and don't let me kid you the sun will rise in the morning but first you must get through your day.
'Moralising is for hypocrites' you get what i'm saying?
We need a motive, we need intent, we need a plan if there's going to be a plot for murder not just opportunity.
Two mo's with one man pushed into a harbour while Nina (our gal) is pushed under train.
Stig meanwhile was shot but we are not thinking it's the same killer nor same MO (modus operandi for the layman).
Stig and Nina may be just junkies but even junkies are important right?
When a threatening letter is sent around it makes the twists go off course because they occurred around the time of the death of Adeler which leads police on a wild goose chase.
Could it be possible this is a set up? 
The intensity is building. The writing is dark. The article is about ready to appear, until it isn't, and then all hell breaks loose.
Could Romer have been following Adeler?
We are on the verge of cutting edge journalism but will that investigative expertise lead us to death?
Ok, look the plan needs to be taken from a different viewpoint. 
Don't look head on , take it from an angle and you'll be fine. Just fine!
Ok, Now remember the sun always rises every morning...
What a superb talent we find in Kjell Ola Dahl.
Thank you to Kjell, Orenda Books ( my friends across the pond), NetGalley, and Aldiko for this ARC in exchange for this review.
Keep 'em coming!
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The Ice Swimmer by Kjell Ola Dahl is everything I like about Nordic Noir. Great mystery, great characters, and I come away feeling like I was actually in Oslo, Norway. 

The main character, Detective Lena Stigersand, is going through personal health issues while trying to solve a drowning that appears to be much more than an accident. Also helping are Detectives Gunnarstranda and Frolich.

You get a good idea of what it's like to be a detective, both pros and cons. And for us Americans, we learn a few new words that are more common in British English. I love to widen my vocabulary. There is some well researched infornation on political matters.

Now granted I am extremely disposed to like K. O. Dahl's novels as he has been one of my favorite Nordic authors for a few years, but prejudice aside, this is a really good read. And as is usual for a book published by Orenda, the translation is impeccable.
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'The Ice Swimmer' by @ko_dahl is a worthy addition to any 'Best of Nordic Noir" booklist. It really is a gem of novel. It is an exceptional multi-layered story which succeeds on every level. Kjell Ola Dahl deserves all the praise this book will bring him. #TheIceSwimmer #NetGalley
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Set in 2010, this book starts with a strange incident during which a man jumps onto the deck of a ferry, kills the captain and some passengers, jumps into the water and swims away. The boat steers onto the path of another ship and sinks, killing a group of Japanese schoolchildren. The investigators seek to figure who the man was, who was his intended target, and the reason behind the dreadful incident. Well, that would have been too simple... The investigation unearths a much more complex series of connected events that take the investigators to Bosnia, to an observation post that had been manned by Danish soldiers and was informally called "Little Denmark". And they eventually find the links to a previous murder in Denmark, the death of a mentally damaged veteran, and the obsession of a young police officer murdered on the deck of a ferry. Detective Chief Superintendent Konrad Simonsen and his team struggle with the complex case as well as their own emotional response to the events, and some attempts at sabotaging their investigation.
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The Scandinavian mysteries are a fun genre, and man, cold. This author is new to me, but I know he has written others. I did not need to read them as this story did fine on its own.

Its very atmospheric, and you can get a good sense of the country. The story is ok, but what is nice is that many of the cliches are missing- the graphic violence, assholes on the force with issues, really horrible bad guys. 

It is a nice read, and I found the ending satisfying.
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Thank you NetGalley and Orenda Books for the eARC.
This was my first K. O. Dahl book and what a terrific read!
We start out with a terrified homeless woman running for her life, only to end up being thrown under a train.  Then a lifeless male is pulled out of the sea.  Detective Lena Stigersand is at the scene (it's -23, the man would have died within minutes...).
A journalist approaches her and thus starts a a personal relationship that is fraught with uneasiness.  Life is difficult for Lena at the moment, not only is the case one that is difficult and very sensitive, she's also found out she may have cancer
and a sinister stalker seems intent on killing her.  Thank goodness for the steadying influence of her colleague Gunnarstranda.  The case has them interviewing leaders in Government, causing a severe backlash from their superior; someone is leaking information to the press and anyone they speak to seems to be lying...all in the freezing days leading up to Christmas and the necessary shopping and preparations for the big day.
Lena is a complex and intense character, I loved her; the scene in which she discovers a lump is a superb piece of writing, it made my blood run cold.  Unnarstranda is one of the most sympathetic detectives I've 'met'; I'm determined to read the previous books in the series so I can 'meet' him again.
I also enjoyed the Oslo setting (despite the cold!) and the descriptions of Norwegian culinary offerings. Not that it was tempting to me - lutevisk!!! But it adds to the atmosphere of the book, which is lovely.
This is definitely an easy standalone, even though it's part of a series.  It's so good I immediately went to Google the order of the books available in English; highly recommended!
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The Ice Swimmer is the latest in Kjell Ola Dahl’s Oslo Detective series, with a publication date of October 1, 2018. 

Warning to readers who prefer to start any series with Book #1: Of the first 7 books, 5 have been published in English and they were published in reverse order to their Swedish publication dates.  The good news is that, even though this is a series, the books don’t focus on the same detective and the Ice Swimmer is the first novel to focus on detective, Lena Stigersand.  Ice Swimmer is the only book I’ve read in the series and my first Kjell Ola Dahl novel, and I didn’t have any sense of missing background information or context at any point.

Ice Swimmer is a complex police procedural with a political conspiracy, a leak in the police department, competing jurisdictional battles between Swedish agencies with different agendas, a fling with a reporter, and multiple threats to Stigersand’s life thrown in for good measure.  Within the first twenty pages, there are two dead bodies and others soon join them. Two of the bad guys are a tad one-dimensional, but Dahl knows where the line is and stops just short of it. He also manages to introduce a dozen or so characters without confusing the reader or requiring a white board to track relationships and roles. The mystery works.  

There’s also an important storyline relating to Stigersand’s personal life, so be prepared for the occasional diversion from the core multiple murder investigation, multiple potential murderers and constant – and I do mean, constant – mentions of Swedish foods.  You need to be at your most disciplined when reading The Ice Swimmer or you may find you’ve packed on a couple of pounds before you are done.  One entire page is devoted to a detective’s recipe for fish soup.  I predict that a sizeable contingent of readers will want to put the book down and start shopping for ingredients. As an American reader, I find these mentions to be a bonus.  The Ice Swimmer has a strong sense of place. It could occur nowhere other than Sweden.  But if you don’t know the streets, rivers and landscape, you might read past all of those grounding references and miss all of the landscape and culture that make The Ice Swimmer Swedish.  You can’t ignore the food mentions, though, and who would want to? Here’s just one excerpt:
“aquavit, lutefisk, creamed peas, roast pork and pork ribs, mutton ribs steamed for hours over beech twigs, sauerkraut with caraway, and puréed swede and pork sausages spiced with ginger, rounded off with floury potatoes, crowned with fresh coffee combined with the delicate odour of exclusive cognac.”

Oh, and it’s cold.  The Ice Swimmer takes place in the days prior to Christmas.  There’s not a lot of sunlight and cheer, although seasonal traditions and family expectations surround the characters.

Oddly, I recommend The Ice Swimmer as an ideal beach book for fans of Nordic Noir who seek one.  Often, series authors don’t get enough credit for simply producing good work. What’s not here is as important as what is – no over-the-top violence, no violence against children, no torture porn, no bombastic, ignorant head of the police department, no sexist colleagues. It’s not the best Swedish police procedural I’ve read this year or even terribly memorable, but Dahl’s done a serviceable job here and it’s always a plus to find a new Scandi author to add to my “good” list.  When that author has a solid backlist of titles, it’s even more enjoyable.
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