There is certainly no shortage of candidates for the title role in this crime thriller by one of Germany’s most popular writers in the genre. In fact, there’s no gender discrimination, either – the book could have been titled The Ice Monarch, the better to include all of the cold-hearted characters of both sexes that populate the story. It’s a good thing, too: the plethora of potential suspects and the welter of ill feeling they all seem to bear toward the mounting roster of murder victims in greater Frankfurt presents the listener with a complex puzzle to solve.
The first murder to occur is that of David Goldberg, a prominent 92-year-old Jew who was a high-profile Holocaust survivor, past adviser to the U.S. president, and internationally recognized advocate for reconciliation between Israel and Germany. But the postmortem reveals an incongruous tattoo that calls into question everything the world thought it knew about who Goldberg really was. Superintendent Oliver von Bodenstein and Inspector Pia Kirchhoff have an escalating case on their hands when more bodies turn up. The powerful Kaltensee family, with ties to both the old Prussian aristocracy and burgeoning German industry, seems to be at the center of what’s going on, and yet the dots just don’t seem to connect. When the complicated plot does begin to sort itself out, it becomes apparent that even in the 21st century, decades after reunification, today’s Germany still grapples with its Nazi-haunted past, and with the lingering shadows of the Stasi (East Germany’s secret police).
The third and most recent of Nele Neuhaus’s Bodenstein & Kirchhoff police procedural series to be translated into English and published in the United States, The Ice Queen actually precedes the first two transatlantic arrivals (Snow White Must Die – which I reviewed in 2013 – and Bad Wolf) in the chronology of the series. These novels can be enjoyed on their own, or in any order.
Robert Fass reads The Ice Queen, as he does the others in the series. He’s very good with all of the German pronunciations, ably voices characters of all ages and both genders, and keeps things going at a lively pace throughout. Fass has an expressive reading style that lends itself well to the high drama and extremes of emotion that build as the plot approaches its climax. Any fan of the recent wave of European crime fiction that’s finding an American audience should give Nele Neuhaus a try, and you can’t go wrong with these audio productions.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher as part of the Solid Gold Reviewer program administered by Audiobook Jukebox. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.