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The Princess of Burundi


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About the Author

Kjell Eriksson's first crime novel, The Illuminated Path, was named Best First Novel of 1999 by the Swedish Crime Fiction Academy, and The Princess of Burundi was selected Best Swedish Crime Novel in 2002. Much like previous winner Henning Mankell, Kjell Eriksson is very adept at spinning a tight and suspenseful mystery plot, laden with psychological and sociological insight.


When the badly mutilated body of John Harald Jonsson-a working-class family man and an expert on the tropical fish known as cichlids-is found in the snow in the provincial Swedish town of Libro, homicide detective Ola Haver and his colleague, Ann Lindell, quickly identify a suspect, an embittered sociopath. The brilliance of Eriksson's richly detailed crime novel, his second (after The Illuminated Path) but his first to be translated into English, lies in its psychological and even sociological insights. Eriksson not only reveals a deep, sympathetic understanding for his large cast of characters but also evokes a pervasive sense of despair, reminiscent of Henning Mankell's, in the face of the violent, amoral nature of contemporary society and the challenges it places on the police. The title derives from the common name of one of Jonsson's beloved cichlids, and the aquarium is a neat metaphor for the dynamics of smalltown life. This suspenseful, intelligent and perceptive book is terrific. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"Riveting.... THE PRINCESS OF BURUNDI resembles the books of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, not to mention those of the modern master Henning Mankell." The Wall Street Journal"

Adult/High School-An ordinary crime novel is made extraordinary through Eriksson's exquisite character descriptions and circuitous plot. Former small-time crook Little John Jonsson is found brutally murdered, with clear evidence of torture. The Uppsala police force investigates and eventually identifies the killer. The author skillfully constructs the personality of each character, revealing, for example, the weaknesses inherent in policeman Ola Haver and Ann Liddell versus the hidden strengths of the victim's brother, Lennart Jonsson, and son, Justus. Haver leads the investigation while managing a strained relationship with his wife and an attraction to his former boss, Liddell. Lennart Jonsson's guilt and grief over his brother's death eventually destroys him, but not before he exacts his revenge (albeit unrecognized) and becomes a hero. Justus had a secret pact with his father that may have saved Little John's life had he shared it with his mother or the police. The likely suspect is a demented, pathetic person who knew his victim as one of his tormentors in school-a period that haunts him in his adult life. The entangled relationships among the police, the victim, and the victim's family are compelling. Teens will be drawn to deconstruct the intelligent puzzle created by Eriksson, right down to the book's title.-Claudia C. Holland, Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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