lovely desperation

Fleegan has been on a Scandinavian crime fiction tear lately, offering off-the-cuff reviews of Nemesis by Jo Nesbo and Kjell Eriksson’s Princess of Burundi. Fleegan is either a a mythical creature that loves breakfast cereal or a librarian. She complains (after a conversation with a patron about Nancy Drew) that she is “the blackhole of cool” but that is obviously untrue because she has good taste in books and a fun way of talking about them, vis . . .

Now, if you’re like me, when you read the title you too were all, “Oh hey, is this crime fic? Written by a Swede? About an African princess? Right on!” Well, let me quench your curiosity and go ahead and tell you that there are no African princesses in this story. The Princess of Burundi is a kind of fancy fish. . . .

This is a book in the Inspector Ann Lindell series. In this particular book she’s on maternity leave so she’s actually not in it very much except towards the end. The thing I was most impressed with in this book is that the whole book has a mood and it is desolate. The scenery, the characters, the crimes. Everything seems to be motivated out of desolation/desperation. Even the things that would happen that were supposed to be happy or positive seemed thin and see-through and just out of reach. It was so interesting to read.

Obviously it wasn’t a “feel good” murder mystery. heh.

I was just amazed at how everyone’s lives seemed to be bereft of something, from the detectives to the criminals and the victims. And all of this is played off the winter season of an old industrial section of some Swedish town I can’t remember or spell (was it Uppsala? or is that the one I’m reading about now? hmmmm.) and it was just all so lovely in it’s desperation and isolation and whatever other -ation. I know that sounds strange and impossible, but that’s how it was, and that’s probably why it won an award.

6 thoughts on “lovely desperation

  1. you’ve a whole blog about scandinavian crime fiction?! why did i not know this? i’ve needed this. i’m reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo right now. i know, i’m late. oh! and i’m about to start another series… hold it… i can’t think of it. something about a sun? i’ll let you know…

    sadly, or not, i’m no librarian. i’m just a lowly library worker.

  2. Hmm – not sure I would have given away that the princess of burundi is a fish, had I reviewed this book (which I have read but from memory, not reviewed).

  3. It is a spoiler, but I suppose it’s not a terribly major one – unlike, say, in the Mankell novels, it’s pretty obvious the plot won’t just take the next left at Bujumbura.

    My favourite Eriksson is still the first one, which I don’t think has been translated into English yet. (Why do they do that?) It’s definitely all about Ann Lindell, and provides a lot of useful backstory.

  4. really? the fish thing is a spoiler? how? i’m sorry if i’ve spoiled the book for anyone!

    ugh, and why DO they NOT translate them in order?! that’s been the most frustrating thing about these books.

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