Top positive review
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After all, he is still Erast Fandorin...
on 3 January 2011
The companion volume to the 'She Lover of Death' (whose events are apparently simultaneous), this Fandorin adventure is too clever by half: stylish, for sure, but often overdone in the alternating narrative between an authorial voice and that of Speedy Senka. His rapid rise from Khitrovkan ruffian to Fandorin's assistant is amusing if incredible, and gives ample opportunity for Akunin to show he can do the bourgeoisie as well as the aristocracy and the criminal underclasses. Huge on atmosphere, but the story makes little sense, a central metaphor that doesn't sustain and whatever the satisfying justice of the denoument, it is no match for the demands created by the way tensions are built. However, it is a marked improvement on the last outing, and one still wishes to have both the reserve and the insight of Erast Petrovich!