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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I hope they speed up the translation pace, 30 Jun 2005
This review is from: The Winter Queen (Erast Fandorin 1) (Paperback)
I was extremely pleased to discover the work of Georgian author Boris Akunin, since I have always been a fan of Russian literature and getting to experience a novel dealing with mystery / espionage from that origin was a real treat. If I had to define the writing style of Akunin, I would say that he creates characters that show the characteristic inner turmoil present in the work of several Russian authors, like Dostoyevsky, and uses storylines that can be mirrored with a mixture of John LeCarre and Arthur Conan Doyle.
This is the first installment of a series of eleven books (up to this date) featuring the Moscow detective Erast Fandorin, and was originally published under the title "Azazel". Our hero lives in the nineteenth century, and has been unlucky in life, since his family's fortune was lost quickly and completely, leaving him in a precarious condition and working as a catalyst for his decision of joining the police force. He is getting to know the ropes around the department when he is assigned to the case of a man that committed suicide in a park. It is supposed to be an open and shut case, but Fandorin's zeal and eagerness for knowing more about the poor individual leads him to discover a complicated web of lies and deceit, which at its center holds and international conspiracy.
I enjoyed how the author describes the thoughts of our main character, since this gives the story a depth that goes beyond the mystery at hand, and creates a bond with the reader that keeps us interested in the series. Besides Fandorin, there is an eclectic set of characters that provide the story with interesting dialogues and variety of personalities. Mixing a bit of espionage in the story helps too, since the pace picks up considerably when Fandorin goes around Europe trying to reach the bottom of the case. There are also a couple of very interesting and amusing comments regarding the invention of telephones and the origin of the Russian roulette, which I bet will get a smile out of you.
Finally, for those unfamiliar with Russian literature, let me warn you, since in most American novels you find that the author creates adversity as a prelude for the happy resolution and only occasionally breaks this pattern. This is not the way Russian literature works; but I guarantee that the excellent writing and interesting story will make it a pleasant experience anyway. In my case, I enjoyed the novel greatly and am looking forward to reading the next one in the series. There are a total of three books that have been translated to English thus far, and I hope that they hurry to translate and publish the rest.
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