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Special Assignments: The Further Adventures of Erast Fandorin Hardcover – 11 Jan 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; First Edition edition (11 Jan. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297848224
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297848226
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 3 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 837,931 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Intricate, incredible, pleasurable. (Jessica Mann LITERARY REVIEW)

Fandorin is a delightful creation - a quirky gentleman sleuth who cuts an impeccably groomed dash through the courts and political intrigues of 19th century Russia...With an eccentric cast of supporting characters and a fleeting romance, Akunin's whodunit formula is irresistible. (EASY LIVING (February))

a double treat for fans. (Omer Ali TIME OUT (10-17 January))

Akunin brilliantly ratchets up the tension...and Fandorin's unveiling of the clues will keep you enthralled. (Richard Mead FQ (January/February))

an excellent read. (Laura Wilson GUARDIAN (13.1.07))

This...demonstrates Akunin's underlying seriousness of purpose in writing the Fandorin novels, whose clever devices and mischievous tricks disguise a determination to strip bare the extremes of human behaviour. (Joan Smith SUNDAY TIMES (14.1.07))

The perfect Sunday afternoon read. (Kath Murphy SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY (21.1.07))

ingenious and craftily plotted exploits. (GOOD BOOK GUIDE (February))

this elegantly written book is fast-moving, witty and compulsively readable...The story packs a surprisingly powerful emotional punch, proving there's more to Akunin than jolly pastiche. Highly recommended. (GLOSS MAGAZINE (March 2007))

Whether in skittish or sombre mood, Akunin is immensely readable (and excellently translated by Andrew Bromfield); the beguiling, super-brainy, sexy, unpredictable Fandorin is a creation like no other in crime fiction. (Marcel Berlins TIMES (10.2.07))

Fandorin [is] a debonair combo of Sherlock Holmes, D'Artagnan and most of the soulful heroes of Russian literature...Andrew Bromfield's translation is key to maintaining the entertaining period pastiche...Fandorin is very much a figure from the time of his creation: an all-knowing yet taciturn functionary with a past in espionage and a love of Japanese martial arts working in a Russia beset by internal division. (Roger Perkins SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (19.2.07))

Book Description

The daring Russian sleuth Erast Fandorin takes on two new cunning adversaries

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Although this consists of two shorter books, The Jack fo Spade and The Decorator, the two stories follow the introduction of the Tulipov character who blossoms as a character over the two stories rather like Fandorin does in The Winter Queen. Akunin has the knack of quickly sketching whole rounded characters whilst still keeping the narrative flowing and the reader on the edge of his/her seat.

The Jack of Spades is a slightly more light hearted battle of wits between Fandorin and the eponymous swindler. It manages the neat trick of turning the readers sympathies around in the middle of the story.

The Decorator is a much darker affair and whilst the previous stroy has pace and a satisfying conclusion, its greater function in this context is as a prelude to this second story. A serial killer stalks Moscow and Fandorin along with his young pupil Tulipov are out to catch him/her(?)

This is crime writing at its very best, what anyone could be wanting more than this from a crime novel is beyond me. This pairing of books is almost perfect.
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Format: Hardcover
Unlike some other reviewers, I found 'The Decorator' to be a literary triumph. I'm not giving the game away by saying that it references the Jack the Ripper case to some extent - but more than that, it echoes the activities of the Russian serial killer Michael Pichuskin - the chessboard killer. Some of the motivations of the antagonist in the Akunin story echo those given by Pichuskin in his own defence. But of course, this is a fiction and the parallels can only be drawn so closely - the story is also a masterpiece of construction, of sleight-of-hand developments in the plot, unexpected but predictable if you know where to look.

If 'The Decorator' is the darkest of Akunin's stories so far, albeit leavened with his usual humour, then 'Jack of Spades' is one of his lightest - a delightful romp telling the tale of a conman and his wonderful assistant, who I for one desperately hopes will appear in a future episode.

Boris Akunin affirms himself once again as one of the world's greatest living writers in any language.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book comprises two adventures by our hero Erast Fandorin who is progressing up the ladder of distinction with multiple decorations for his amazing skills in solving crime, Our C19th hero is as skilful as Sherlock Holmes, but as brave as James Bond, in a role as major crime solving aid to Russia's policing. The first story in this book is about chasing a master swindler which is more in the style of Lord Peter Wimsey, but the second story I could not read entirely as it was too blood thirsty and full of gore and horror based on Jack the Ripper and his murders. Boris Akunin writes with incredible energy and speed without sparing us any detail, I admire his style, but this story was a bit too much for me. Well written work and full of C19th atmosphere and manners and etiquette which is so fascinating. However story no 2 in this book may appeal to those who have a fascination with the more grisly side of crime.Excelent characters and details as usual..
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By Keris Nine TOP 500 REVIEWER on 8 Jun. 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Special Assignments consists of two shorter stories where Akunin's detective Court Counsellor Erast Fandorin is called upon to solve two very different cases that threaten to cause grave embarrassment to the Russian Royal Court of the late nineteenth century. The novella format suits the stories, rounding out the background of the special investigator, his personal life and acquaintances and expanding on his abilities while still leaving the author room for some flashes of humour, literary referencing and light philosophising. Showing some variety in style and content, the two detective stories however are minor pieces, neither of them particularly fresh or original in the genre.

The Jack of Spades is an entertaining adventure of a cat-and-mouse chase between Fandorin and a clever conman and master of disguise who is not only making fools of the general public in Moscow, he has even taken in some prominent government officials with his schemes, leaving behind his calling card and causing major embarrassment for all concerned. It's an entertaining light romp, Akunin capturing the wonder of the detective's methods from the admiring viewpoint of a new assistant Tulipov who has been assigned to him.

The Decorator is a much darker prospect. After the first Erast Fandorin novel Azazel/The Winter Queen, the reader will be accustomed not to expect Fandorin's investigations to run along too smoothly or without some serious consequences, and here his adversary is one of the most deadly - none other than Jack the Ripper himself. Akunin presents a strong and convincing psychological portrait of an intelligent and quite mad serial killer, but the appropriation of Jack the Ripper feels lazy, the investigation lacks focus and urgency, and some of the deaths that occur feel unnecessarily manipulative, the whole thing leaving a rather bitter taste in the mouth - and not in a good way.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was much darker than the previous novels. This is in two distinct parts , the second half being much more serious and I am not quite sure how they ended up in the same novel. Nonetheless, I was compelled to read this to the end and will keep reading this series. Very engaging and very well written, while being easy to read.
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