In Andrew Bromfield's exuberant translation of The Death of Schilles, this "young Adonis" applies his investigative skills to the politically awkward death of a beloved war hero, earning gasps of admiration for his piercing intelligence, athletic prowess and, above all, dashing style.
The New York Times
Set in 1882, Russian author Akunin's fourth novel to feature Erast Petrovich Fandorin (after 2005's The Turkish Gambit) consists of two parts that read like different books. In part one, the 26-year-old special agent comes to Moscow to investigate the sudden demise of national hero Gen. Mikhail Sobolev, who dies in the bed of an alluring courtesan. Fandorin learns of Sobolev's plan for a coup and of a missing suitcase full of a million rubles to fund it. The trail of the missing suitcase leads to the dangerous Khitrovka slums and then to Pyotr Khurtinsky, the scheming head of the secret section of the governor-general's chancellery. One step ahead of Fandorin is the mysterious Klonov, an assassin who may have once tried to kill our hero. As Fandorin closes in on Klonov, the narrative jumps to a retelling of the assassin's life. This shift brings a welcome change of storytelling, from the often stiff, theatrical language of the first section to a more natural, unembellished style. An exciting resolution only partly offsets this incongruity. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Akunin has embarked on a unique concept for a mystery series: he uses the same protagonist in various mystery genres. Fans of his detective Erast Fandorin will be delighted with this work. Here, Erast is attempting to solve the mysterious passing of a national hero who was in the process of changing the course of the Russian empire of the late 19th century. His primary adversary is a professional assassin, a man portrayed with unusual sympathy. Petty thugs, crooked officials, courtesans, and various connivers are all part of this intriguing tale, and narrator Paul Michael makes each one uniquely memorable. His presentation is rich in aural ambience and has an engaging cadence. For lovers of sophisticated mysteries, this is very highly recommended.-Ray Vignovich, West Des Moines P.L. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Collegiate Assessor Erast Petrovich Fandorin meets his match when he investigates the death of a beloved Russian general. Adjutant-General Michel Sobolev was so popular-the closest thing to a national hero Russia could boast in 1882-that he was nicknamed "the White General." By a series of coincidences, his old acquaintance Fandorin (The Turkish Gambit, 2005, etc.) is on hand to assist the legions of official authorities when the 38-year-old general is suddenly found dead. Despite obvious indications of skullduggery, Sobolev apparently died of natural causes while he was in the throes of passion. So why has his death unleashed such violence? Avenging an attack on Masahiro Sibata, his Japanese manservant, by killing several lowlifes, Fandorin finds himself on the trail of a mysterious briefcase that's disappeared from Sobolev's hotel. He also becomes seriously at odds with the Tsar's police and in the middle of some deep-laid political intrigue. His investigations in the first half of the novel are complemented by a long narrative that shows how a criminal mastermind came of age and accepted a commission to kill Sobolev. As the two adversaries draw closer to each other, Akunin also pauses long enough for nods to Gogol, Conan Doyle and The Pink Panther. This time, however, the author's trademark playfulness is subordinated to a relatively sober account that makes this the most straightforward, even conventional, of Fandorin's adventures.
From the Publisher
“[Akunin’s] novels feature a Slavic Sherlock Holmes who speaks Japanese and English, is skilled at martial arts and has ladykiller good looks. . . . Millions of readers have been seduced.”
–The Wall Street Journal
“[Akunin] writes gloriously pre-Soviet prose, sophisticated and suffused in Slavic melancholy and thoroughly worthy of nineteenth-century forebears like Gogol and Chekhov.”
“Critics on both sides of the Atlantic have praised [Akunin’s] clever plots, vivid characters and wit as sharp as the sword hidden in Fandorin’s walking stick.”
“Akunin’s wonderful novels are always intricately webbed and plotted.”
–The Providence Journal