cover image LOVE AND DEATH IN KATHMANDU: A Strange Tale of Royal Murder

LOVE AND DEATH IN KATHMANDU: A Strange Tale of Royal Murder

Amy Willesee, Mark Whittaker, . . St. Martin's, $24.95 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-312-32994-5

Australian authors Willesee and Whittaker's exploration of Nepalese Crown Prince Diprenda's killing of his family and himself in 2001 wisely provides as much insight into Nepalese culture as the crime itself. It also, after a promising start, becomes bogged down in a litany of royal family names and confusing relationships, which, admittedly, it might be beyond any writer to make sense of to a general reader. This failing aside, however, the book is an entertaining read. The crown prince's frustration at being 29 and not yet married, the queen's frustration with the prince for choosing a woman she believed unsuitable, and a myriad of other personal pressures are described against the backdrop of a country literally torn between progress and the past. Perhaps the oddest fact revealed is that before the crown prince died of his self-inflicted injuries, he was proclaimed the king. If the crown prince had not died, he would have ruled Nepal rather than been arrested for his crimes. The authors do an excellent job of showing how a web of tradition, local superstitions and a legacy of bloodshed helped sanction the prince's actions. From child brides to child goddesses, from Maoist rebels to drug smuggling, the book is full of compelling snapshots of Nepalese life. Agent, Catherine Drayton at Arthur Pine Associates. (July 14)