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Harlequin's Costume (Putilin Trilogy) Paperback – 15 Mar 2013

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Glagoslav Publications Ltd. (15 Mar. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1782670297
  • ISBN-13: 978-1782670292
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,451,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This was a very entertaining story, that brought back the fantastic atmosphere of Russia in the late 1800s that I had found previously in The Gentle Axe by R. N. Morris. It's amusing throughout. Especially fun is when they force someone to volunteer to be the murderer. You see, it doesn't actually matter who did it, just that they arrest someone. Interestingly, later on, more and more people are suspected of the crime.

It all seemed very much like a cliché of how you'd expect the Russian police to behave, but having said that, it was both funny and believable. This brilliant sentence on page 178: "With this kind of evidence we can prove anything we like."

While it was fun, I did have problems keeping the characters apart. Not because of their Russian names, that wasn't so hard, but because they weren't very well developed and there were rather many of them. I often lost track who was who and this also influenced my understanding of the story at times.

On the other hand, I could very clearly picture the events in the story and it was not hard to imagine that this would make a brilliant tv series.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x98bb58a0) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
HASH(0x98bcd930) out of 5 stars Inspector Putilin will keep you guessing... 12 Jun. 2013
By Slavic Lit Fan - Published on
Format: Paperback
Compared by many to Boris Akunin, another big name in Russian detektivy (detective novels) set in the past, Leonid Yusefovich's books are extremely popular and it's great to see the first in this series about chief inspector Putilin being published in English.

Yusefovich describes himself as a "serious historian", and I thought this came out very strongly in this mystery, which had an extra dimension that really enhanced the otherwise familiar `whodunit' storyline. For me, this is what was really interesting: I'm not usually a fan of this genre, but the little details the author includes relating to the Russian pre-Revolutionary period were fascinating. The dialogue was also quite funny, and Yusefovich (and the translator) really use this well to convey different characters - you can almost imagine their voices in the room with you at times! A fast paced and thrilling read that keeps you guessing right up to the end.
HASH(0x98bcde34) out of 5 stars A Single Thread 24 July 2013
By Gary Severance - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Leonid Yuzefovich is a Russian historian and an acclaimed writer of short stories, novels, and historical pieces. In his novel Harlequin's Costume, Yuzefovich presents a "locked door" murder mystery that takes place in 1871 St. Petersburg, Russia. Prince von Ahrensburg, an Austrian military attaché assigned to the great Russian city, has been killed in his bed in a locked bedroom with his feet pointing toward the head of the bed. The killers must have known the prince had a hidden bell pull by his pillow that would alert his staff in an emergency, possibly an inside job.

Chief Inspector Ivan Putilin is brought to the scene on the Street of Millions to investigate. The Tzar's secret police, called Third Department, are at the scene because of the international diplomatic implications. Putilin is an interesting character with anxiety-related stomach problems, a lovingly domineering wife, and a mean streak in his relationship with subordinates. He is realistically fearful of the Third Department leaders who want a non-Russian scapegoat to take the blame for the murders. Putilin a man ruled by his emotions, is not convinced of the guilt of suspects who "confess" to the crime, and he looks for a single thread that will lead to the real perpetrator. Then, like a harlequin's costume of rags sewn together with a single thread, he can unravel the convoluted political and criminal garment revealing the naked truth.

The novel requires some additional effort by the reader to understand the complicated political situation in Europe in the late 1800s. This is not an Agatha Christie style mystery that provides all the relevant historical context. The reader should do some outside research on the period to help understand Yuzefovich's historical allusions. This understanding is made more difficult by Marian Schwartz's translation that is a somewhat disjointed, literal interpretation of Yuzefovich's prose. Harlequin's Costume is the first book of a trilogy featuring Inspector Putilin who, near the end of his life, is recounting his most interesting cases to a writer for publication. I enjoyed reading the novel and will read the subsequent 2 volumes for more of Chief Inspector Ivan Putilin's police stories.
HASH(0x99152d50) out of 5 stars Winner of ReadRussia 2014 Translation Prize!!! 9 Sept. 2014
By Camilla Stein - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
This book just won a prestigious international award in Russia. Well done! Translator Marian Schwartz gave us an amazing gift - this novel reads much like Dan Brown's mysteries, but is written with much more attention to detail. And perhaps the lovliest feature of all is that both the author and the translator managed to re-create the breathtaking atmosphere of old St Petersburg, sending us into the country that no longer exists - the Russian Empire.
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