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A Razor Wrapped in Silk [Paperback]

R. N. Morris
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 April 2010

St Petersburg. 1870. A child factory worker is mysteriously abducted. A society beauty is sensationally murdered. Two very different crimes show up the deep fissures in Russian society of the late tsarist period. The first is barely noticed by the authorities. The latter draws the full investigative might of St Petersburg's finest, led by magistrate Porfiry Petrovich.

The dead woman had powerful friends - including at least one member of the Romanov family - so when the tsar's notorious secret police becomes involved, it seems that both crimes may have a political - not to say revolutionary - aspect. A trail of missing children leads to a shocking discovery that takes Porfiry inside the Winter Palace for a confrontation with the Tsar himself. The usually incisive magistrate grows increasingly unsure what to believe, who to trust and how to proceed. His very life appears to be in danger, though from whom he can't be sure ...

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (1 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571241158
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571241156
  • Product Dimensions: 3 x 12.6 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 483,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

R.N. Morris was born in Manchester, England, in 1960 and now lives in North London with his wife and two children. He sold his first short story to a teenage girls' magazine while still a student at Cambridge University, where he read classics. Making his living as a freelance copywriter, he has continued to write, and occasionally publish, fiction, including Taking Comfort (2006) written as Roger Morris.

One of his stories, "The Devil's Drum," was turned into a one-act opera, which was performed at the Purcell Room in London's South Bank. Another, "Revenants," was published as a comic book. A Vengeful Longing is the follow-up to his first novel written as R.N. Morris, the historical crime novel A Gentle Axe. A Razor Wrapped in Silk, the third in the series featuring Porfiry Petrovich from Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, was published in April 2010.

A Vengeful Longing was short-listed for the 2008 CWA Duncan Lawrie Dagger for best crime novel, runner-up in New York Magazine's Culture Awards for 2008 in the best thriller category, and Highly Commended for the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Crime Novel Award 2008. It was also picked out by Crime Squad as one of the top ten crime books of 2008.

He has recently collaborated with the composer Ed Hughes on the opera, Cocteau in the Underworld.

Product Description

Book Description

The most assured and gripping novel yet in R. N. Morris's acclaimed series featuring the investigator from Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment.

About the Author

Born in Manchester in 1960, R. N. Morris now lives in North London with his wife and two young children. A Vengeful Longing followed A Gentle Axe in a series of St. Petersburg novels revolving around the character of Porfiry Petrovich.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping! 3 May 2010
By Laura Smith VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A great book. Until you reach the very end you are kept guessing as to who dunnit! I was pleasantly surprised by the ending.
Good characters and a really interesting storyline. I wasn't drawn in for the first few pages but then I must admit, I was gripped! The story is really well fleshed out with characters and scenarios and the pace is fast. I'll certainly be seeking out more by this author as I love my Russian-set novels. I'm always a but wary of English writers setting a novel in Russia, it is so easy to get wrong, but R.N Morris gets it spot on!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasant Surprise 25 Jun 2010
By Nick Huckle VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
With his main on character (Porfiry Petrovich) the magistrate featured in Tolstoy's Crime and Punishment, Morris takes us into two very different Russias of 1870. One being the world of the aristocracy and Royal Family with all its privilage, power and seeming imunity from the law. The other being the povety, ignorance and exploitation experienced by the children of the country's underclass. Porfiry Petrovich and his assistant investigate two seemingly unconnected murders. One from each of these diverse ends of Russia's cultral mix. Hindered by both the secret police and the burgoning revolutionary movement Porfiry gradually begins to realise the two crimes are a matter of cause and effect. While some of the plotting is predictable Morris's description of late nineteenth century Russia and its cultural split held me as a reader. Now I haven't read Crime and Punishment but I found the detective, or magistrate to use Porfiry's correct title, a fascinating character. Something of a cross between Sherlock Holmes, Morse and Columbo. A thinking detective with a sense of his own talent and importantce. Overall a wothwhile read though not a classic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable period crime novel 1 April 2010
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I enjoyed this book - the first of Morris's I had read. Set in Tsarist St. Petersburg in 1870, it is effectively a police procedural with Porfiry Petrovich, Dostoyevsky's detective created in Crime and Punishment, as the main protagonist. It is well written with an engaging central character and a fairly interesting rather than utterly gripping narrative. What gives this book its distinctive character is the setting which Morris manages very well. He settles on a style which conveys the manners and mores of the time and this maintains the atmosphere very convincingly. The historical and political background seem well done (although my very scanty knowledge of 19th Century Russia doesn't make me a good judge of this) and it was this aspect I enjoyed most.

The plot itself is, frankly, pretty run-of-the-mill. Many of the familiar elements of the genre are trotted out: Crimes With No Obvious Link To Each Other, The Obvious Suspect, Political Pressure, Detective Under Threat, Not Knowing Whom He Can Trust, Implausible Flashes Of Intuition and, of course, a rather ludicrous Tense Climax. There is an odd, almost irrelevant sub-plot about ownership of a bank which seems to be there just to illustrate some of the prejudices of the time, and some of the aspects of the plot are a bit clunky. However, there is plenty in the book to enjoy

Four stars is a slightly generous rating, but three stars would have been very churlish and I can recommend this book as a diverting read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes Hard Going 12 April 2010
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Porfiry Petrovich is character taken from Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and given new life in this series of books. It is evident that R N Morris has a great love for Dostoevsky and Imperial St Petersburg.

Though this is the third book in the series it does not matter if you have missed the previous two. There are allusions to the previous events in his relationship with his assistant, Pavel Pavelovich, but there is nothing that gets in the way of the story for a new reader.

Events centre around the abduction and murder of workers from an evening school and that of a society women who has links to many men in high society, including the Tsar himself.

I found this a little difficult to get into but it did absorb me as I read on. However I think that a little editing could have increased the pace and tension. There were also a few plot lines that never seemed to be tied up; maybe this will be done in the future.

The greatest disappointment is that I never really engaged with the characters. I seemed to guess the plot twists and solution and felt a little let down by this. I never knew whether this was supposed to be a crime novel or a novel of imperial Russia. It seemed to fall between both stools.

I will give the two earleier books a read and hope that this will help fill in some of the gaps.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Russian Poirot 6 April 2010
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Magistrate Porfiry Petrovich is a character created by Fyodor Dostoevsky in Crime and Punishment and R N Morris has taken the character and imagined him solving crimes in Tsarist Russia, with the aid of his trusty sidekick,Virginsky. Together they investigate two seemingly unrelated murders, the murder of society heiress Yelena Filippovna and that of orphaned factory worker, Mitka.

The action proceeds at a fairly leaden pace, leaving the reader to wonder whether they could have solved it for him in the time he takes. However, the characters are likeable, the historical background is interesting and the ending is fine, if a little predictable. Rather Agatha Christie for my taste but satisfyingly Russian with some great description of life in St Petersburg at the turn of the 19th century - especially factory life.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Just couldn't get into it ...
I tried really hard to get into this novel, but it just didn't grab me at all. In the end it has taken weeks of forcing myself to read it in order to get to the end. Read more
Published on 26 Oct 2010 by Cee-Gee
3.0 out of 5 stars a solid continuation of an interesting series
The third in Morris' st Petersburg series displays the wrioters beautifully formed vision of the city. Read more
Published on 17 Sep 2010 by Mr. M. E. Merritt
2.0 out of 5 stars Not recommended - unless you've read Dostoevsky
I didn't like this much at all. I found it stolid and plodding and I kept feeling that I should have read Crime and Punishment to get the most out of it. Read more
Published on 13 Sep 2010 by Johnnybluetime
1.0 out of 5 stars Rusty Razor
This book was fairly easy to get into, it shows the lifestyle of a child labouring in Russia, the introduction of a policeman was boring and to be honest, I gave up reading then.
Published on 12 Sep 2010 by Mrs. T. Mannell
4.0 out of 5 stars Best Yet
Porfiry Petrovich's third outing in the Razor Wrapped in Silk is the best to date. R.N. Morris seems totally at home inthe St.Petersburg of the 1870's. Read more
Published on 28 July 2010 by Edward Penny
5.0 out of 5 stars Convincing authenticity
This is the third in the author's St Petersburg series, based in the latter part of the nineteenth century in that variously-named city. Read more
Published on 17 July 2010 by Mr Creepy
3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure
I suppose that if you borrow one of Dostoevsky's characters then you run the risk of people making sneering remarks about your style. And style is a matter of taste, of course. Read more
Published on 17 Jun 2010 by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Almost but not quite
I quite enjoyed this book but was not enthralled by it. Morris does an excellent job of setting the scene of life in tsarist Russia as bleak and gloomy and this sense pervades the... Read more
Published on 17 Jun 2010 by J Grainger
4.0 out of 5 stars I'll give it four Tsars - sorry Stars
R. N. Morris is a new author to me. I was lured by the title just to see where it led me. Sometimes picking a book with a pin can come up with unexpected pleasure and sometimes... Read more
Published on 14 Jun 2010 by uncle barbar
4.0 out of 5 stars More than Fan fiction
This was my first foray into "fan fiction", that is, a story involving a character or setting from the original work written by a fan of the orginal. Read more
Published on 6 Jun 2010 by A John
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