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To Kill a Tsar  

To Kill a Tsar   [Kindle Edition]

Andrew Williams
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Product Description


'Williams contrives an appealing blend of Doctor Zhivago, Conrad's Under Western Eyes and Boris Akunin's 19th-century crime fiction. His ability to bring a past world to life matches Furst's'

(John Dugdale, Sunday Times)

'This is a dense, meaty affair which pulls off the trick of gripping the reader and bringing a complicated, alien world to life'


'He blends historical fact and fiction in a vivid recreation of the world of The Idiot and Crime and Punishment'

(The Times)

'Elegantly serpentine plotting and finely etched characters confirm his place in the front rank of the new English thriller writers'

(Daily Mail)

'A very accomplished novel which can be enjoyed as a gripping and moving thriller. Yet it is more than that, for it invites us to reflect on questions of morality, and on that age-old question of when, if ever, violent means may be held to justify worthy ends; whether, indeed, such ends can ever be achieved if the means are inescapably criminal'

(Allan Massie, Scotsman)

'Exciting . . . an important book for devotees of the spy story'

(Shots Magazine)

'A gripping thriller set in a world of treachery'

(British Fantasy Society)

'To Kill a Tsar . . . had me biting my fingernails with the suspense'

(Andrew Roberts, Daily Telegraph)

'Bravura story-telling... Andrew Williams is the real thing; a writer who can marry popular genres to the sophisticated treatments of political arguments'


'Williams has done his homework and each setting rings true . . . a well-constructed period thrilller . . . you will get caught up in conspiracy and counter-plot'

(Shots magazine)

'Sheer escapism . . . To Kill a Tsar is a bold portrait of revolutionaries seeking to assassinate Tsar Alexander II in St Petersburg . . . gripping authenticity'

(Oxford Mail)

'I was totally absorbed in this very gripping, sensational historical mystery, with a factual basis and with the nail-biting tension of whether the protagonists will be arrested or not. This is only the author's second novel and yet it was shortlisted for both the Walter Scott Prize and the CWA Ellis Peters Award. The depth of research that the author undertook with this book is to be applauded. I was completely captivated by the very tightly plotted depth of this story which I think is the best historical romantic mystery that I have had the pleasure of reading this year. I hope to include it in my top five books of 2011. If you enjoy a marvellously evocative historical mystery then this is the next one to buy if you have not done so already'


Book Description

This tense, gripping novel set in 19C St Petersburg 'confirms Andrew William's place in the front ranks of English thriller writers' (Daily Mail). Shortlisted for the CWA Ellis Peters and the Walter Scott Awards, To Kill a Tsar will appeal to readers of John le Carre, Robert Harris and Alan Furst.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 799 KB
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray (14 Oct 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0047738LU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #97,906 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

After studying English at Oxford, Andrew worked as a newspaper journalist, then as a senior producer on BBC Television's flagship current affairs programmes, Panorama and Newsnight, covering the major stories of the day. In 1997 he moved to BBC Documentaries and spent the next eleven years writing and directing television documentaries and drama documentaries for the BBC and international co-producers, including the award winning series, 'The Battle of the Atlantic'. He has written two best selling histories of the Second World War; 'The Battle of the Atlantic', and 'D-Day to Berlin'. His first novel, 'The Interrogator', was shortlisted for the CWA Ian Fleming Thriller of the Year Award and the Ellis Peters Historical Fiction Award, and it was The Daily Mail's debut thriller of 2009. His second, 'To Kill A Tsar', was one of The Daily Mail's thrillers of 2010 and was shortlisted for The Scott Prize for Historical Fiction and the Ellis Peters Award. 'The Poison Tide' was the first in a trilogy of Secret Service novels that take place during World War 1. The second, 'The Suicide Club', is a spy story set at British HQ in France and behind enemy lines in Belgium. It will be published on 6th November 2014. The Daily Mail has described him as belonging to 'the front rank of the new English thriller writers'. For background to his books and more on the author, visit:

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Passion and Intrigue in Tsarist Russia 6 July 2010
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can recommend it to anyone who loves a gripping tale of suspense in an authentic historical setting. Andrew Williams has moved from World War II, the focus of his earlier writings, to late 19th century Russia and the events around the assassination of Alexander II in 1881, a period with which many English readers are less familiar than they are with 1917. It tells of the romantic involvement of Frederick Hadfield, a Doctor from a respected Anglo-Russian family, with Anna Kovalenko, a young teacher who is a member of The People's Will, a small but influential band of revolutionaries.

It is a story of conflicting passion and principle, as Frederick's love leads him inexorably, if unwillingly, into association with terrorism. Mixing fiction skilfully with accurate treatment of historical facts and people, Andrew Williams also gives a fascinating insight into the merciless but ultimately inefficient corrupt and informer-led government in St Petersburg at a time of autocratic but creaking imperialism, and into the motivation and activities of early resistance leaders. He also throws light on the situation and influence of the small but powerful Anglo-Russian community.

Once you have assimilated the sheer number of characters met in the early chapters, and despite the plethora of complicated Russian names, this novel deserves the accolade of all the best thrillers -it is just hard to put it down!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Williams brilliantly evokes this chapter of Russian history which, for me, was completely unknown. The backdrop is 1880s Moscow and a deeply divided society which harbors a group of terrorists desperately trying to overthrow an increasingly unpopular and tyrannical regime. Williams expertly conveys the danger, the excitement and the hope of these people as they fight against an ever more determined and violent secret police. By following the lives of characters from both sides Williams conjures a tense and desperate game of cat and mouse which draws to a dramatic - and historically unprecedented - conclusion.

At the centre of it all is a romance between two people irresistibly drawn together but whose vastly different backgrounds seem destined to keep them apart. Their characters and circumstances are believably and sympathetically conveyed making this not just an historical thriller but a poignant look at the futility and self destructiveness of a certain kind of love.

For anyone who loves Robert Harris and historical fiction, 'To Kill a Tsar' is the next one to put on your reading list. Like Williams' first novel, it's unputdownable. Highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding thriller 19 Sep 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed Andrew Williams debut immensely. This is even better. The author is able to blend plot, period detail and characterisation to produce a wonderfully evocative story. One of his particular strengths is his ability to convey period detail so skilfully - in a way that strengthens the novel. This is in stark contrast to many lesser novelists who tend to insert, somewhat clumsily, sections of description that seem little more than extracts lifted from historical/travelogue sources. If you enjoy well written page-turning thrillers then do buy this. Its a great read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and compelling story 30 Sep 2010
A Kid's Review
I enjoyed this for its pace, its sense of place and time and the window it opened onto a killing I knew very little about. It also has an interesting historical context: what happens when a nation fights individual violence with state sponsored violence - how might the world be different if the next Tsar had liberalised rather than tightened his control? A good read, and also worth talking about - a good reading group choice, I would say.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling thriller 23 Aug 2010
This fascinating historical thriller focusses on a relatively little-known period of Russian history, the 1880s and the Anglo-Russian community of St Petersburg. A terrorist group called The People's Will is plotting to kill Tsar Alexander II, and an Anglo-Russian doctor becomes entangled in their schemes when he falls in love with Anna, a revolutionary.
The novel raises questions about the motivation of terrorists and the extent to which violence is justified to remove an authoritarian and repressive regime; questions which resonate with contemporary concerns.
Amongst Williams' strengths is his attention to historical detail, evoking an entirely believable lost world; while never losing the compelling story-telling which makes this thriller unputdownable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to recommend 12 Feb 2012
By Dianam
I enjoy reading history and historical novels that are based on fact and well-researched. This is one I am now recommending to all my friends and colleagues. Not only is it well written, but it beautifully captures the spirit of the time in which it is set and St Petersburg at the time of the events. This early revolutionary period in Russia is not an historical subject that is well-known or perhaps immediately appeals, but Andrew Williams has brought this to life and I now find I know a lot more history wihout really trying. It is a gripping storyline that explores this proto revolution from the revolutionaries perspective and I found myself making parallels with the equally wrong-headed convictions of terrorists today. A good choice for a book club.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Fabulous book if you enjoy fictionalized history! You really ought to try it if you enjoy learning pre-communist Russian history.
Published 5 months ago by John A. Dalpino
5.0 out of 5 stars credible and atmospheric
Not come across this author before, but from page 1 you are plunged into a believable account of events surrounding the Tsar Liberator. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Brian Heywood
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
An exiting story very well written and researched. The fictional characters are so well weaved into the story that I had to look them up to see if they actually existed. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Archangel
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous read
I really enjoyed this book and recommended it to a book group which resulted in some very stimulating discussion. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Carrie Luxembourg
4.0 out of 5 stars A widely unknown period of Russian history
Lots of books have been written about the Russian revolution, and its aftermath. However, this is a book that tackles the pre-revolutionary period in Russia. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Mr C Hussey
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written informative historical novel
Based on actual events of two years leading up to the assasination of Tsar Alexander II in St Petersburg, it revolves around an English doctor's love for one of the revolutionaries... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Nick
5.0 out of 5 stars Russian history
A fascinating book which was engrossing, easy to read and fulfilled the author's claims. An interesting insight into life in Russia in the nineteenth century
Published 20 months ago by Dr. John Pickworth
4.0 out of 5 stars Both enlightening and enthralling!
Having little knowledge of this important and pivotal era of history I was looking for a book that would inform and educate me in my inadequacy. Read more
Published on 4 Jan 2012 by HZuckermann
1.0 out of 5 stars Too Many Characters
I read voraciously particularly historical novels and really thought I would enjoy this book but could not get into it at all. Managed 20 chapters but gave up.
Published on 20 Nov 2011 by Mrs J W Ballingall
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite for me
To be honest whilst I do enjoy a thriller, this one was a little too political for me, yes the author did a good job of presenting the themes within the book but when you start... Read more
Published on 11 Sep 2011 by Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog
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