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The Princess of Burundi

(Ann Lindell #4)

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  3,699 ratings  ·  380 reviews
This spellbinding new thriller opens when a young father fails to show up for supper on a snowy night just before Christmas. His is not the only sinister disappearance, and before the final breathtaking climax, a secret killer terrorizes an entire frightened town.

Despite being on maternity leave, Inspector Ann Lindell is determined to find John's murderer. The cruel
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 6th 2007 by Minotaur Books (first published 2002)
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Average rating 3.45  · 
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 ·  3,699 ratings  ·  380 reviews

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First, a note to people reading the American edition:

Initially, you might think that The Princess of Burundi is a Fargoesque tale about a violent murder and a plucky, preggers female detective. You might think that because that's what the description says. Apparently, someone pissed off their editorial intern, though, because very little in the description is factually accurate.

So, just to be clear:

No, the dead man's troubled past doesn't really "catch up with him." It's sort of the point, but
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Recommended to El by: Around Europe - The Roundtable
Shelves: 21st-centurylit
I worked at a used bookstore when I first moved to town in 2003. I felt I was a fairly well-read person, and had an idea or two about some things. So I was surprised when one evening someone called and asked if we had any books on a specific topic.

"Chiclets!?" I remember asking. "Like... the gum...?"

The man on the other end of the line made a really frustrated noise, because obviously I didn't understand something pretty uncommon like this.

"Cichlids. C-I-C-H-L-I-D-S. The FISH?"

I still had no
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
Sep 24, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Conrad Black
I think there are more people writing Swedish police procedurals now than there are actual Swedish people living in Sweden, and about 75% of these books (including this one) win awards. Half of them have ties to Africa: either an African character, or an African setting, or just some word like "Burundi" thrown into the title. (The princess of Burundi refers to a tropical fish, as well as to one of the Swedish characters.) Really the only difference between this, and a Wallander, is that this is ...more
Rachel Hall
Jan 16, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

The Princess of Burundi won author Kjell Eriksson the Best Swedish Crime Novel award in 2002 and went on to become a bestseller in Sweden. This excellent English translation, courtesy of Ebba Segerberg, was unfortunately not available until 2007 and marked the first appearance of Inspector Ann Lindell, despite her being on maternity leave at the outset of the investigation.

When John Harald Jonsson is late home from work in a snowy December evening, wife Berit worries that his dissolute
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is an entertaining mystery that will keep you guessing. At the end, once you are on to the killer you are still guessing about how the author will wrap it up.

The story is told in a series of vignettes each focusing on a character who is associated with the deceased. The format is perfect for a newspaper serial or a TV mini-series.

The personalities are described such that you understand and care about them as they approach Christmas in this town in Sweden. Most of those who know the victim
May 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
I had read about this book in a magazine and put it on my TBR list. Unfortunately, this series is impacted by the whole “Translated Out of Order Syndrome” and it really did matter here. There are references to happenings in the character’s lives that happened prior to the events in The Princess of Burundi, which is somewhat confusing.

I am usually a big fan of Nordic/Scandinavian fiction in general but I struggled with this book and it is not a long novel, under 300 pages. It felt like a slog to
Nancy Oakes
Set in Uppsala, Sweden, as the story opens, the winter weather is terrible, and a son awaits the return of his father, John Harald Jonsson. However, John Jonsson isn't coming home that night, or any other night because he's been murdered. Not only that, but there is evidence that John has been tortured. His wife, Berit, can't think of anyone that would want to hurt him let alone want him dead. Enter the police department, with the investigation being led by Ola Haver, who has some personal ...more
Aug 26, 2009 rated it it was ok
I love moody, dark, character-driven mystery/thriller novels, especially those set outside the US, so this sounded right up my alley. Upon finishing it, though, I had absolutely no idea what all those positive reviews on the back cover were talking about.

As a mystery, this novel was profoundly disappointing. Of the two main plots (the murder of a family man with a shady past and a creepy loner's descent into violent psychosis), one is wrapped up after an agonizingly drawn-out investigation with
Aug 13, 2011 rated it did not like it
I probably should have read the reviews before I started.

The introduction was immediately compelling, but it went down hill from there. While the characters were interesting, the back story was confusing. I suspect that part of the problem is that this isn't really the first book in the series--just the first that has been translated. As a result you just have to accept that there is no apparent reason for some of angst.

The endless ruminations on the deteriorating state of Swedish society
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
This story just didn't come together. It had, seemingly, all the aspects to make a good story, and yet it didn't. It didn't make sense, too many unanswered questions, too many people behaving in ways that didn't fit into a realistic scenario.
John, a tropical fish collector and expert, is murdered. His ne'er do well brother wants to find out who killed him and avenge his brother's death. John had money and secrets that his son was aware of but his wife was not. John's son dedicates himself to
Dec 12, 2017 rated it liked it
This was a pretty good detective story. I liked the characters and the plot moved around. It seemed a little awkward, with many different points of view.....choppy, I guess. I will read another by this author.
Unfortunately, I read this before the first 3...and felt it. Could be why I wasn't as excited about this book as others. I'll read the first 3 and they rethink my rating.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Mar 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent entry with Ann Lindell taking a supporting role til the end, gives her usual ensemble a chance to shine. nice suspense and use of locations. Recommended.
When I picked this book to read, I was under the impression that it was the first in a series featuring female police inspector Ann Lindell of Uppsala, Sweden. It soon became apparent that it was not the first. Evidently, it is actually the fourth in the series but was the first to be translated into English.

Never mind. The author actually does a good job of providing the backstories of his main characters, so I did not feel as lost as I might have.

This is a police procedural, much in the vein
Aug 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Not a bad start to a series, but neither was it engrossing. The main series protagonist Ann Lindell isn't truly part of the investigation. She is currently on maternity leave, having had another man's baby.
It starts with the brutal of John "Little John" Jonsson who had been stabbed to death, and had fingers cut off. John had hardly been a model citizen. he and his brother Lennart had been petty criminals, with Lennart being the worse of the two. But John had found a new passion in life fish,
Donal Lyons
Dec 23, 2013 rated it did not like it
It's an exaggeration to say I read this. I started it with interest, but soon began skipping for two reasons, poor plot and poor translation. It's hard to see why this particular book was translated at all, it's the fourth of a series and has a large cast of featureless characters that perhaps we're supposed to know from the earlier books.

It's also hard to fathom how Ebba Segerberg has been commissioned for 7+ translations:

I found she also translated a
Mar 05, 2012 rated it did not like it
Firstly, this book has the most incompetent police squad I have ever encountered in any crime novel I have read. It is a wonder even coffee is made in that workplace.

Secondly, I could not connect with any of the characters. Actually, that's a lie, I did quite like the friendly Finnish man, even though he is a walking stereotype ('he sounds like one of the Moomins!'). Ann Lindell comes across to be unlikeable and a very closed person, which isn't great considering she's the heroine. The dialogue
Jan 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2010
Not as great a read as I had hoped. I would probably give it a 21/2 if I could but made it a 3 as inspite of it not being the best read, I couldn't put it down...definitely engages you. The mood was well set--I could feel the streets and snow of Sweden, some of the characters were intriguing but it meandered here and there. The police department never quite gelled for me--there were so many personalities working on solving the crime that no one really stood out as a character to root for. The ...more
May 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
One of the things I love most about reading is the way it expands your horizons. For example, I picked up this crime novel in my local Oxfam bookshop. The title intrigued me,the reviews were impressive, I like crime novels and my money will help people in need. I was happy before I even began to read it!

I was charmed by the characters and gripped by the plot. There are two crimes to be solved and we are kept guessing about whether or not they are linked. The crime unit is made up of a wonderful
The Princess of Burundi by Kjell Eriksson is an interesting and well-plotted mystery featuring Swedish detectives Ann Lindell and Ola Haver. They work together to solve the mystery of who tortured and murdered John Harald Jonsson, an out of work welder and tropical fish enthusiast. As like many other Scandinavian mysteries, the atmosphere of the country and thoughts of the characters are as important as any action. I like this style but felt this novel lost momentum part way through. However, ...more
Shonna Froebel
Dec 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: translations
This started a bit slow, but got better as it went along. It begins with the murder of a man who had been involved in small-time crime when he was younger, but not for years. He had been unemployed lately and the police take some time to be able to track his final movements. This case becomes intertwined with that of a schizophrenic man who has begun attacking those he thinks have teased him in the past or are not helping him now.
The personal lives of some of the police officers are also brought
Fran Murphy
Nov 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Another addition to the shelf of Scandi-noir, The Princess of Burundi sees Swedish Inspector Ann Lindell, currently enduring maternity leave, poke her nose into her colleagues' murder case to relieve her boredom. Some interesting plot twists and characters, but in general I found there was too much going on. Also, my pet hate is when an author sometimes refers to a character by their first name, and sometimes by their last name ! I have to keep checking who is who, especially when there are ...more
We read this book out loud - Will, Louise ( and I on a long road trip. Reading about the snowy Christmas in Sweden served to cool us down in the hot August weather. In true Agatha Christie fashion, there are lots of characters, any one of which has a motive for the crime. Sifting through the background information and keeping track of clues led us to many fun hours of speculation. I agree with Louise's review, including that the ending is somewhat ...more
Richard Katz
Jan 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book by Kjell Eriksson won the Swedish Crime Academy Award for Best Crime Novel. What a crock. I was very disappointed and nearly gave it one star. First, the translation is weak and it reads like a translated book. Second, only one or two characters - good and bad - actually have enough depth to make you empathize with them. Finally, even the crime is solved by a whimper not a bang. The sum of three in-credible clues basically allow the police to accidentally collar the perp! I don't know ...more
Feb 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scandinavia, mystery
Ended up with this book when I couldn't find "Shadow Tag." Eriksson is my newest Scandinavian mystery find. His phrasing requires a bit of concentration; but this book is as much a novel as a mystery. Eriksson chose to use multiple points of view to tell his story. He is realistic and knowledgeable about all his characters, male, female, rich, poor, suffering, rich or barely surviving.

The ending is sudden, but the murderer is a surprise.
Carey Combe
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Julie Christine
Jun 09, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of crime fiction set in cold Social Democratic nations
A relative newcomer to the crime novel genre- though he's been publishing in his native Sweden for several years- Eriksson introduces his readers to Detective Inspector Ann Lindell and the mean streets of Uppsala. This was solid, smart crime fiction with a cast of characters I'm looking forward to getting to know better!
Apr 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It started out very slowly, but once it got going it was riveting.

I'm not sure who is responsible for the cover copy, but it's got nothing to do with anything. I'm not sure if it refers to a previous book in the series or if it was translated by someone who was less than fluent, but it's completely misleading.
Laura Hoffman Brauman
Solid Scandanavian crime fiction. Didn't realize until after I read it that it was in the middle of the series. I guess it's good that I didn't feel like I was missing anything, but I have a rule about never starting in the middle of a series and now I have broken it. Argh.
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Scandinavian Crim...: A Look at The Princess of Burundi by Kjell Eriksson 1 15 Feb 24, 2012 09:03PM  

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Karl Stig Kjell Eriksson is a Swedish crime-writer, author of the novels The Princess of Burundi and The Cruel Stars of the Night, the former of which was awarded the Swedish Crime Writers' Academy Best Swedish Crime Novel Award in 2002. They have both recently been translated into English by Ebba Segerberg.

* Ann Lindell Mystery

Other books in the series

Ann Lindell (10 books)
  • Den upplysta stigen
  • Jorden må rämna
  • Il giardino di pietra
  • Nachtschwalbe
  • The Cruel Stars of the Night
  • The Demon of Dakar
  • The Hand That Trembles
  • Black Lies, Red Blood
  • Open Grave
“Death comes to us all, that is the only thing we can be certain of. It makes no difference whether it is a thief in a garbage dump or a policeman in the line of duty. When someone dies at the hands of another, the pain for the survivors is the same.” 3 likes
“If we just had the time, he thought, and would often say, we could manage these kids as well. All they lacked was time and resources.” 1 likes
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