Moscow, May 1876: What would cause a talented young student from a wealthy family to shoot himself in front of a promenading public in the Alexander Gardens? Decadence and boredom, most likely, is what the commander of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Moscow Police thinks, but still he finds it curious enough to send the newest member of the division, Erast Fandorin, a young man of irresistible charm, to the Alexander Gardens precinct for more information.
Fandorin is not satisfied with the conclusion that this is an open-and-shut case, nor with the preliminary detective work the precinct has done—and for good reason: The bizarre and tragic suicide is soon connected to a clear case of murder, witnessed firsthand by Fandorin. There are many unresolved questions. Why, for instance, have both victims left their fortunes to an orphanage run by the English Lady Astair? And who is the beautiful “A.B.,” whose signed photograph is found in the apparent suicide’s apartment? Relying on his keen intuition, the eager sleuth plunges into an investigation that leads him across Europe, landing him at the deadly center of a terrorist conspiracy of worldwide proportions.
In this thrilling mystery that brings nineteenth-century Russia to vivid life, Akunin has created one of the most eagerly anticipated novels in years.
It is 1877, and war has broken out between Russia and the Ottoman Empire. In the treacherous atmosphere of a Russian field army, former diplomat and detective extraordinaire Erast Fandorin stumbles upon his most confounding case. Its difficulties are only compounded by the presence of Varya Suvorova, a deadly serious (and seriously beautiful) woman with revolutionary ideals who has disguised herself as a boy in order to reunite with her respected comrade and fiancé. Even after Fandorin saves her life, Varya can hardly bear to thank such a “lackey of the throne” for his efforts. When Varya’s fiancé is accused of espionage and faces execution, however, she must turn to Fandorin to find the real culprit . . . a mission that forces her to reckon with his courage, deductive mind, and piercing gaze.
The State Counsellor: A Fandorin Mystery (Статский советник) (1999)
Moscow, 1891. The new Governor General of Siberia has been secreted away on a train from St. Petersburg to the former Russian capital. A blizzard rages outside as a mustachioed official climbs aboard just outside the city; with his trademark stutter, he introduces himself as State Counsellor Erast Fandorin. He then thrusts a dagger inscribed with the initials CG into the general's heart, and tearing off his mustache, escapes out the carriage window. The head of the Department of Security soon shows up at the real Fandorin's door and arrests him for murder. The only way to save his reputation is to find CG—and the mole within the government who is feeding the dangerous group information. Can Fandorin survive corruption among his fellow officials, the fearlessness of an unknown enemy, and the advances of a sultry young nihilist with his morals intact? The State Counsellor is a colorful entertainer from a master of the sly historical romp.
Paris, 1878: Eccentric antiquarian Lord Littleby and his ten servants are found murdered in Littleby’s mansion on the rue de Grenelle, and a priceless Indian shawl is missing. Police commissioner “Papa” Gauche recovers only one piece of evidence from the crime scene: a golden key shaped like a whale. Gauche soon deduces that the key is in fact a ticket of passage for the Leviathan, a gigantic steamship soon to depart Southampton on its maiden voyage to Calcutta. The murderer must be among its passengers.
In Cairo, the ship is boarded by a young Russian diplomat with a shock of white hair—none other than Erast Fandorin, the celebrated detective of Boris Akunin’s The Winter Queen. The sleuth joins forces with Gauche to determine which of ten unticketed passengers on the Leviathan is the rue de Grenelle killer.
Tipping his hat to Agatha Christie, Akunin assembles a colorful cast of suspects—including a secretive Japanese doctor, a professor who specializes in rare Indian artifacts, a pregnant Swiss woman, and an English aristocrat with an appetite for collecting Asian treasures—all of whom are con?ned together until the crime is solved. As the Leviathan steams toward Calcutta, will Fandorin be able to out-investigate Gauche and discover who the killer is, even as the ship’s passengers are murdered, one by one?
In 1882, after six years of foreign travel and adventure, renowned diplomat and detective Erast Fandorin returns to Moscow in the heart of Mother Russia. His Moscow homecoming is anything but peaceful. In the hotel where he and his loyal if impertinent manservant Masa are staying, Fandorin’s old war-hero friend General Michel Sobolev (“Achilles” to the crowd) has been found dead, felled in his armchair by an apparent heart attack. But Fandorin suspects an unnatural cause. His suspicions lead him to the boudoir of the beautiful singer–“not exactly a courtesan”–known as Wanda. Apparently, in Wanda’s bed, the general secretly breathed his last.