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This is the first of the Ann Lindell Mysteries to be translated into English, but not the first in the series. So there's much backstory that we have to try and catch up on as we go along and, oddly, Lindell herself is on leave after having a baby, so the whole narrative is kind of off-center. It makes for a disconcerting introduction to what promises to be an interesting set of police procedurals. Kjell Eriksson seems to have quite consciously taken Ed McBain's 87th Precinct for his model, as the following exchange demonstrates:
The Rastafarian locksmith worked on the lock for about thirty seconds. He whistled as he worked and Fredriksson asked him to be quiet.

"Cool," he said. "Are you Sweden's answer to Carella?"

Fredriksson has no idea what he was talking about, but nodded.

This means fleshing out a variety of detectives and following each of their roles in the investigation, in this case the brutal murder of a former small-time thief, part-time welder, renowned fish collector, known as Little John. Parallel to this investigation, the victim's brother looks into the murder on his own and, Vincent Hahn, a psychotic ex-classmate of the victim attacks a woman they both knew as children, raising the possibility that he may be targeting folks who bullied him in school.

For all the homage to McBain though, the most affecting scene in the novel owes more to Sojwall and Wahloo. It comes after the clearly crazy character kills a policeman and one of the detectives upsets his peers by suggesting that they all bear some responsibility for helping create and foster the broken society in which the crimes they are concerned with occurred:
"[B]oth Little John and Vincent Hahn are products of Swedish social democratic policy, our so-called People's Home. I think it is the isolation of individuals in our country that breaks them. The gaps between people's dreams and the potential to get off track is too large." [...] The silence was overwhelming. These questions were rarely or never aired.
The airing of them gives the book a nice moral heft that may not necessarily lift it out of genre but does raise it towards the top.


Grade: (A-)


See also:

Kjell Eriksson Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Kjell Eriksson
    -GOOGLE BOOK: Princess of Burundi
    -WIKIPEDIA: Neolamprologus brichardi (Princess of Burundi)
    -BOOK SITE: Princess of Burundi (MacMillan)
    -PROFILE: Killing's not the key to Swedish novelists: The aftermath of murder is what absorbs these writers. (Peter Rozovsky, June 19, 2007, Philadelphia Inquirer)
    -REVIEW: of The Princess of Burundi by Kjell Eriksson (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Princess of Burundi (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of Princess of Burundi (Kirkus)
    -REVIEW: of Princess of Burundi (Sue Corbett, People)
    -REVIEW: of Princess of Burundi (Maxine Clarke, EuroCrime)
    -REVIEW: of Princess of Burundi (Reader Writer Nerd)
    -REVIEW: of Princess of Burundi (Scandinavian Books)
    -REVIEW: of Demon of Dakar by Kjell Eriksson (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Demon of Dakar (Mysterious Reviews)
    -REVIEW: of The Hand that Trembles by Kjell Eriksson (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of The Hand that Trembles (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Hand that Trembles by Kjell Eriksson (Betty Lytle, NewsOK)
    -REVIEW: of The Cruel Stars of the Night by Kjell Eriksson (Mystery Tribune)
    -REVIEW: of Cruel Stars (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of

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