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Atmospheric and tense from its dramatic opening to its shocking climax, "The Gentle Axe" is a spellbinding historical crime novel, a book that explores the darkest places of the human heart with tremendous energy, empathy, and wit. As lucky as St. Petersburg residents are to have Porfiry Petrovich in public service, we are equally fortunate to have R.N. Morris on hand to chronicle his most challenging case to date.
This historical crime novel adopts the setting and explores many of the themes of Dostoevsky's classic Crime and Punishment. It opens in 1866 with a gruesome scene in St. Petersburg's Petrovsky Park: a man's corpse hangs from a tree, and the dead body of a dwarf lies nearby, his skull split in two. An autopsy determines that the dwarf has been poisoned, raising suspicions about the presumed murder-suicide. The case is assigned to Porfiry Petrovich, Raskolnikov's prosecutor in Crime and Punishment. As Petrovich follows leads through the city's brothels, taverns, and tenements, a number of Dostoevskian characters emerge as suspects. The investigation quickly centers on Virginsky, an impoverished student whose life closely parallels Raskolnikov's. Morris, actually a pseudonym for Roger Morris, author of the novel Taking Comfort, portrays Virginsky with particular empathy and sensitivity. Readers with an appetite for the occasional lurid scene will enjoy; for public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ11/15/06.]
Posted May 12, 2010
Not familiar with this author so was very impressed with writing style and grasp of the Russian culture of the period. Never having read Dosteyevsky, can't compare the styles but does not seem to have any false notes. Definitely recommend this to all readers interested in the cultural aspects of life in 19th Century Russia.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.