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Review: Ice Queen by Nele Neuhaus

Review: Ice Queen by Nele Neuhaus

Fans of the bestselling European crime writer Nele Neuhaus will not be disappointed with her latest thriller about the dark secrets of German history that still affect the present.

The witty and self-deprecating Nele Neuhaus achieved bestseller status in her native Germany with her crime series featuring the investigative team DI Pia Kirchhoff and DS Oliver von Bodenstein.

From the insecurities of self-publishing, she moved on to the real thing, selling over 3 million copies in Germany alone, and she is now published in 21 countries. Her books offer something very different from the Euro crime with which most UK readers are familiar, sporting vividly drawn German locales and a duo of detectives who might initially seem to be cut from familiar cloth, but quickly establish themselves as idiomatic and unusual.

The first book in her sequence, Snow White Must Die (2013), was a tour de force (and a hit of massive proportions) that begins in a small town in which a boy is accused of murdering his seductive girlfriend, the ‘Snow White’ of the title. Very dark deeds are done against the setting of the beautiful German countryside.


“One of the most able writers of European crime fiction at work today.”


This first book had British readers keenly anticipating its successor, and for those wondering if it’s as distinctive as the earlier book, there need be no suspense: Ice Queen is every inch as impressive (in a sympathetic translation by Steven T. Murray).

Ice Queen begins with the violent death of a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor Jossi Goldberg, who is discovered near his house in Frankfurt with a five-digit number written in blood at the murder scene and a mysterious tattoo on his arm. Neuhaus’s crack detective team, Pia Kirchoff and her boss, Oliver Bodenstein, discover that the victim was connected with Hitler's SS. Was he Jewish? Was he, in fact, a survivor of the death camps? What was his true identity?

Two more murders follow. The same five-digit number appears and both victims have the same tattoo as Goldberg. The name and motivation of the killer, it becomes apparent, are to be found in the dark secrets of the Second World War.

The new book is proof positive that Snow White Must Die was no fluke, and that Nele Neuhaus is one of the most able writers of European crime fiction at work today.

Ice Queen is published by Pan Macmillan on 29th December