Beth F.'s Reviews > The Princess of Burundi

The Princess of Burundi by Kjell Eriksson
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's review
Jan 08, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: scandinavian, mystery, 2009, crime, tnbbc-winter-2008
Read in January, 2009

I finished this book yesterday and initially gave it three stars. I’m downgrading it to two after thinking about it and formulating my reaction into words.

This book should have been a very fast read. It was only 300 pages. The writing style was not pea soupy. And every time I managed to sit down and pick it up, I tore through the pages rather quickly. Also I really did want to know whodunit. So why did it take me over a week to finish this blasted thing?

Two reasons: 1) too many viewpoints and 2) too many stopping points, which I’ll explain.

Each chapter was told from the viewpoint of a different character. Included in this cast of characters was the murdered man’s wife, his teenage son, the murdered man’s brother, a crazed psychopath, a former classmate, a cop, another cop, a female detective, some spouses, some former spouses, some other random people, etc. etc. There were a lot of individuals to keep straight. And while this wasn’t exactly difficult to do, I struggled with caring about any single one of these characters. The author spent such a short amount of time with any single individual that none of them stood out, they all felt like main characters, and the personal anecdotes about their day-to-day life whilst they were all reacting to or trying to solve the murder became tedious.

Because of the style the story was told in, trying to write a synopsis for the story would be extremely difficult. I read the dust jacket blurb after finishing it and realized that the description had very little in common with what I’d actually just read and that if I attempted to write one myself, I would also fail. In short, it’s a murder mystery. One character is murdered before the book begins and by the end of the novel, the body count goes up to four. The book takes place in December so there were some Christmas parties and secret kisses and waxing poetic over life in general by all the characters (I think this happens to a lot of us around the holidays) so it fit, but it still made nailing down any real plot difficult.

Sometimes, there were several viewpoints included in each chapter. The author would write anywhere between a few paragraphs to several pages about one character and then break away to another. By doing this, there were many natural breaks that allowed me to mark my place, put the book down and walk away to do something else. I found that while I was reading the book, I was perfectly content to do so. But whenever I wasn’t reading it, I felt absolutely no compulsion whatsoever to drop what I was doing and read it.

Overall, I’d say that since I’m not a big fan of mysteries, I’m probably not the target audience for this book. Someone who enjoys crime novels or murder mysteries would probably find this book much more satisfying than I did.
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Reading Progress

12/29/2008 page 1
12/30/2008 page 7
2.3% "It's snowing kittens out there. I'm predicting a loooong commute home with a fresh book. Ahhh, bliss. I love murder in the evening."
12/31/2008 page 42
13.82% "This is my first "crime novel." It's early so I can't say for sure...but it's okay. I'm not crazy about it, but it's alright."
01/03/2009 page 79
25.99% "Meh. This might be the first and last crime novel I read. It's not bad--I'm just not totally into it. It reminds me of dating a dud." 1 comment
01/03/2009 page 108
35.53% "OK. I take back what I said about this book being a dud. It just got exciting. Finally."
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Tammy (new)

Tammy Sounds like a good one to pass up. I'm not a fan of head hopping either!

Julie (jjmachshev) I agree with Tammy...the voices in my own head are enough of a bother for me

message 3: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Tammy wrote: "Sounds like a good one to pass up. I'm not a fan of head hopping either!"

Head hopping is a great description Tammy!

Beth F. Head hopping *is* a fantastic description--because that is exactly what the author was doing!!!

message 5: by Tammy (new)

Tammy ROTFL!! Julie - I'm seriously starting to wonder about you girl! First the comments about kidnapping and now the voices in your head.

Julie (jjmachshev) who said that? Wait, which one was it? Oh, it's YOU

Michele Desoer I'm almost done (40 pages to go) and think you have nailed the problems spot on. There are so many characters, and bizarre development so it is hard to keep them all straight. Maybe if one has read the first 3 books?

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