3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
One of Akunin's best,
This review is from: The Death of Achilles (Erast Fandorin 4) (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.
As all Akunin's novels, this one has several layers, for different types of readers. It's a highly entertaining mystery/thriller and an intellectual stylings to the themes of the classics in one package.
Those of you who like Homer will be amazed by how the entire second part of the novel turns out to be one huge reference to The Illiad. Try to figure out who in this story is the real Achilles (hint: it's not Sobolev), who is Paris, who is Hector and where do other Homer's characters fit in.
But no matter what type of reader you are, this Fandorin mystery is absolutely wonderful.