I have read quite a few of his works, and Erast Faninin is a grand hero, capable of incredible feats and human frailties. It takes time to get to grips with Russian patronymics, but if you have read your Tostoy, you will master them. No wonder they are so popular in Russia. A bit like harping back to the good old Czarist days.
I found this very disappointing. I thought it sounded really interesting but felt the reviewers must have been reading a different book! I had thought the historical background of a fascinating time would be just up my street but the plot was so far fetched I found it a bore.
Ok but the main character is too naive and doesn't draw conclusions. The reader is always ahead of him. I also fail to see evil in the villains, to me they are rather philanthropists with clear ideas about humanity.
Boris Akunin's The Winter Queen was a very nice read. The first in a series, Akunin introduces us to Erast Fandorin, a young investigator newly hired by the Moscow police force. Erast comes to the police after his father's family fortune took a dramatic turn for the worse that jolted Erast out of a life of upper-income leisure into a career as a detective. Young, tenacious, intuitive, and more than a bit naïve, Erast is assigned to investigate a clear cut case of suicide. On its surface, an easy investigation designed to ease Erasts's entry into life as an investigator. Of course, all is not what it seems and Erast determines quickly that there is more to the case than a simple suicide. Erast (and Akunin) slowly peel away the layers of mystery and reveals in the process a world-wide conspiracy centered on a series of well run and maintained orphanages endowed by a rich, influential English noblewoman. Along the way Erast encounters love, lust, gambling, and avoids a series of death defying experiences. Standing alone the series of events described above sounds rather pedestrian. A well worn theme. However, the pleasure to be derived from this book is the setting, late 19th century Russia. Akunin has a keen eye for detail and atmospherics. He conveys (as does the excellent translation) a sense of what life must have been life in 19th century Moscow and St. Petersburg. The book ends triumphantly but Fandorin's triumph turns bittersweet n the last few paragraphs. Although this made for a disconcerting jolt at the end of the book it is quite understandable when one considers that Winter Queen is the first in a long series of Fandorin mysteries. A happily ever after ending would not leave much room for drama in the next installment. Some have compared Fandorin to Sherlock Holmes with a bit of Inspector Clouseau thrown in for good measure. I think Fandorin's character stands on its own and needs no comparison to other literary detectives. All in all this is a very entertaining piece of mystery writing set in an exotic locale. It is a perfect book to read on during a flight or on hoiday. I look forward to the next installment in the series.
"The Winter Queen" by Boris Akunin is set in 1876, Czarist Russia, and introduces us to Erast Fandorin, the author's young investigator with the Moscow police. Granted, perhaps the style of writing, the wit, and even the other nuances of the prose are due to the actual translator's abilities (Andrew Bromfield), still this series promises to be popular here in America as well as in Russia, where millions of copies of this series have been sold, we are told. Young Fandorin (21 or so) fast finds himself caught up in a series of bizarre incidents, beginning with the suicide of a young student. By chance, Fandorin indulges his superior's "interest" in the suicide and then begins to unravel a far-reaching world of intrigue, espinage, murder, and general mayhem, from Moscow to London and back. The murder plot aside, Akunin's period piece is good reading as he's able to capture the atmosphere of late 19th century Russia, yet without judging it one way or the other. His few references to "the communists about" are also subtle, but not important to THIS STORY. Akunin's series (reportedly more than 10 Fandorin episodes) apparently are finding themselves into welcomed English translations. If "The Winter Queen" is a true example, let's bring 'em on! A good, exciting, series. (Billyjhobbs@tyler.net)
I have read all Akunin's books in Russian. Actually no, not read them - gobbled them up! And every single one of them is brilliant! Akunin's language is sumptuously eloquent and descriptive. His style is varied. His depiction of historic moments is incredibly accurate. His ability to keep you in suspense right until the very last page is unparalleled! I cannot remember the last time I read something so engrossing!