Call Me Princess Review
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Thanks to the late Stieg Larsson and his best-selling Millennium trilogy, North American readers have started paying closer attention to Scandinavian authors (and I can only hope that a Scandinavian film movement isn’t far behind). An obvious choice when searching for new Scandinavian favorites is Denmark’s “Crime Queen” and crime fiction publisher, Sara Blaedel, who’s taking the step in to the North American market with her gritty thriller, Call Me Princess.

After Susanne Hansson is bound, beaten, and raped in her apartment in Copenhagen, Detective Inspector Louise Rick is called in to investigate. A timid and terrified victim, Susanne is initially reluctant to open up about the attack—especially with her domineering mother in the room—but she eventually admits that she met the man (who called himself Jesper Bjergholdt) through an online dating site. So Louise takes to the Internet to search for the rapist, fearing that he’s already in contact with his next victim.

Meanwhile, as her closest friend, Camilla, begins dating again, Louise starts to worry that her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter, is fading.

Dark and gritty and sometimes disturbingly graphic, Call Me Princess isn’t the fluffy chick lit that the title may suggest. It definitely isn’t for the squeamish—or for anyone who’s already fearful of the Internet’s various dangers.

From the very first chapter, Blaedel makes it very clear that she’s not going to skirt around the issues—or the disturbing details. Instead, she describes the crime, the aftermath, and even one victim’s autopsy to give readers a look inside the lives of both those who live through these horrors and those who investigate them—all the while carefully balancing the emotions of the victims with the often cold and clinical perspective of the investigators (with a slight inclination toward the cold and clinical).

The story itself is a pretty standard procedural—with a few interesting (though not entirely unexpected) twists. The style, too, is often rather awkward and choppy (perhaps a result of the book’s translation). But the characters give it enough personality to hold readers’ attention. Louise struggles to remain detached from Susanne’s case, worrying about both the traumatized victim and her own best friend, Camilla, who gets defensive when Louise asks how she met her new boyfriend, who seems to fit the rapist’s basic description. Louise’s concerns give the usual tough cop persona a touch of humanity—while her sometimes precarious friendship with eager journalist Camilla adds a fascinating twist.

Call Me Princess isn’t destined to take North American best-seller lists by storm—and Sara Blaedel probably isn’t the Next Big Thing. But if you’re looking for an edgy Scandinavian thriller, it’s a decent choice—and a haunting reminder of the potential dangers of Internet relationships.

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