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The Death of Achilles Hardcover – 11 Aug 2005


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; First UK Edition edition (11 Aug. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297645536
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297645535
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 3 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,122,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

With The Death of Achilles, the hilarious and dashing Erast Fandorin, Akunin's debonair Russian Sherlock Holmes, just seems to get better and better...Akunin is more like Agatha Christie meets James Bond: his plots are intricate and tantalising...They are unputdownable and great fun...This is a stunning continuation of form from a Russian author whose thriller writing is world-class. (Viv Groskop SUNDAY EXPRESS (7.8.05))

I always enjoy Akunin's novels, Fandorin with his deductive genius, ninja skills and his bizarre winning streak in games of chance, seens almost too impressive. (Stuart Kelly SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY (7.8.05))

The Death of Achilles may be historical pastiche but its wit and invention are a source of constant wonder...All in all, a delicious confection. (Mark Sanderson EVENING STANDARD (15.8.05))

The Death of Achilles offers agreeable entertainment. It is written with great assurance and much invention. It is a literary equivalent of a pavlova. (Allan Massie THE SCOTSMAN (13.8.05))

This all terrific fun...There is plenty of the stuff you want from detective fiction: murderous dexterity acquired after long years of suffering; exotically lethal weaponry...; treachery in high places and detective genius, but Akunin is a fine novelist as well. The plot of Achilles is cleverly structured to reveal clues from both detective's and the villain's point of view. (Toby Clements TELEGRAPH (20.8.05))

charming and highly amusing...a witty, rip-roaring thrill-fest. (Claire Figuero TIME OUT (24-31 August))

If you have still to sample the Russian detective;s casebook, I recommend you do so now. You won't be disappointed. (Robert Colbeck YORKSHIRE EVENING POST (3.9.05))

...the latest in Akunin's excellent series of novels featuring Erast Fandorin. (Joan Smith SUNDAY TIMES (11.12.05))

Boris Akunin is a playful writer, peppering his mystery-adventure stories with well-judged anachronisms and sly literary references. (LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS (26.1.06))

Book Description

The fourth bestselling novel in the Erast Fandorin series, with 10 million copies sold in Russia alone.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER on 30 Aug. 2005
Format: Hardcover
Erast Fandorin returns to Russia after six year's diplomatic service in Japan, and immediately finds himself thrown into a mystery that will see his skills of both mental dexterity and physical survival tested to the limit...
General Sobolev, popularly known as "The Russian Achilles", a national hero after much distinguished conduct during the Russo-Turkish war, is found dead in his hotel room. Fandorin hears of the circumstances of his old friend's death, and is unkeen to put the death down to simple natural causes. He tells his superiors his misgivings, and they give him permission to look into the matter himself. If something suspicious is indeed going on, it will be best for them to seem to have spotted it.
So, with the help of his new Japanese manservant Maso, who has a disturbing habit of trying to get his boss laid, Fandorin begins to investigate the most curious affair of his career so far.
Akunin's novels really are quite a treat. It's hard to know what level to appraise them on, really: they're terrific swashbuckling mystery/adventure stories; they're very funny satires, and they also swallow up sly literary and cultural references that demonstrate how Akunin is one of the most intelligently playful writers you could possibly pick up. Oh, and they're superbly entertaining, too.
Fandorin, of course, is most often cited as the best thing about these novels. (I don't particularly agree... I just love the playful tone that doesn't take itself very seriously; the jokes and references that Akunin slips in just to amuse himself, but which are rewarding when you manage to spot one of them. How many go by unnoticed, it's impossible to know.) He's certainly a great character, and has got readers coming back for more In their droves.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By "redpants" on 19 Aug. 2005
Format: Hardcover
Erast Petrovich Fandorin must surely be crowned as the world's greatest detective. Only 26 and yet he has solved some of Russia's most difficult and violent cases, shown valour on the battlefields of Turkey, saved an ocean liner and developed ninja abilities in Japan. Now he is back to tread the mean streets of Moscow in this fourth book.
This is a real page turner. Akunin has forensically developed Fandorin's character over the last four books, and the translations by Andrew Bromfield are humourous and meticulous. The books are being published in an intriguing order, which means that we read about Fandorin's exploits without knowing some of his past history. For example we know he spent time in Japan, following Death on the Leviathan, but have yet to have seen any record of his exploits there.
Fandorin is beautifully crafted, that is one. The cases are difficult, twisted and carefully plotted, that is two. The atmosphere of pre-Soviet Russia, with its formality and rule book, is wonderfully constrictive, that is three.
Overall a brilliant detective novel, which is reinventing the genre and providing new twists and intrigue in a fully realised historically accurate world.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 26 Sept. 2007
Format: Paperback
It is undestandable why a Western reader would think that there was another mystery in the gap between Murder on the Leviathan and The Death of Achilles and that the translator has omitted it.
In fact, this is not the case. "Achilles" actually is the fourth book in the series. Akunin had deliberately left a big gap, skipping over Fandorin's 4 years in Japan. He is letting us guess about how exactly Erast had acquired his martial arts skills, his appreciation of Bhuddist philosophy, and his manservant Masa. The hints of his relationship with the mysterious Midori-san and of the "Diamond Chariot" case (all mentioned early in the novel) are also deliberately oblique.
All of this is done intentionally, creating a set of mysteries within mysteries. They will be explained in due course in the 10th book of the series (titled The Diamond Chariot, by the way). This makes the Fandorin omnibus more enjoyable and creates better following.

As for this particular book, it is one of Akunin's true masterpieces. In The Death of Achilles he completely ignores the rules of the genre, ssuspending the tale of the investigation right at the climax to plunge into a long narrative of the killer's lifestory. Told from the killer's point of view! Incredibly, he pulls this off: despite the reader's obvious desire to find out how it all ended, the second, biographical part of the novel is incredibly exciting and impossible to put down.
The character of the killer is one of the best Akunin has ever written. You are sure to be overflown by a tide of conflicting emotions about this character. The ending is extremely dynamic, bordering on heart-stopping. The last few pages may seem as a "cop out", but it doesn't really spoil the effect of this very unusual and gripping book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 Sept. 2005
Format: Hardcover
Erast Fandorin returns to Russia after six year's diplomatic service in Japan, and immediately finds himself thrown into a mystery that will see his skills of both mental dexterity and physical survival tested to the limit...
General Sobolev, popularly known as "The Russian Achilles", a national hero after much distinguished conduct during the Russo-Turkish war, is found dead in his hotel room. Fandorin hears of the circumstances of his old friend's death, and is unkeen to put the death down to simple natural causes. He tells his superiors his misgivings, and they give him permission to look into the matter himself. If something suspicious is indeed going on, it will be best for them to seem to have spotted it.
So, with the help of his new Japanese manservant Masa, who has a disturbing habit of trying to get his boss laid, Fandorin begins to investigate the most curious affair of his career so far.
Akunin's novels really are quite a treat. It's hard to know what level to appraise them on, really: they're terrific swashbuckling mystery/adventure stories; they're very funny satires, and they also swallow up sly literary and cultural references that demonstrate how Akunin is one of the most intelligently playful writers you could possibly pick up. Oh, and they're superbly entertaining, too.
Fandorin, of course, is most often cited as the best thing about these novels. (I don't particularly agree... I just love the playful tone that doesn't take itself very seriously; the jokes and references that Akunin slips in just to amuse himself, but which are rewarding when you manage to spot one of them. How many go by unnoticed, it's impossible to know.) He's certainly a great character, and has got readers coming back for more In their droves.
Read more ›
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