The Winter Queen

The Winter Queen

3.86 (7,448 ratings by Goodreads)
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This is the first book featuring Erast Fandorin, the famous gentleman sleuth. Moscow 1876. A young law student commits suicide in broad daylight in Moscow's Alexander Gardens. But this is no ordinary death, for the young man was the son of an influential industrialist and has left a considerable fortune. Erast Fandorin, a hotheaded new recruit to the Criminal Investigation Department, is assigned to the case. Brilliant, young, and sophisticated, Fandorin embarks on an investigation that will take him from the palatial mansions of Moscow to the seedy backstreets of London in his hunt for the conspirators behind this mysterious more

Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 128 x 198 x 20mm | 240.4g
  • Orion Publishing Co
  • Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0753817594
  • 9780753817599
  • 63,514

Review Text

A bizarre and unexpected round of Russian Roulette on an early summer day opens the English translation of this novel, first published as Azazel in Russia in 1998. After a brief bout of fooling around in the park in front of a couple of women, a young man - Pyotr Kokorin - shoots himself in the head in full view of promenading Muscovites. Before long the case comes to the attention of central character and all-round wizard of deduction Erast Fandorin, who specializes in the solving of murders and mysteries in late 19th-century Russia. Unfortunately Fandorin is the only remotely interesting character in this unconvincing yarn which has somehow managed to sell six million copies in Russia as well as becoming a bestseller all around Europe. Even before the end of page one, it comes over like a cross between a police report and the results of an official post mortem, and just because it's set in Tsarist Russia doesn't mean it has to be written in the language of the time. Unbelievably clumsy and lengthy sentences compete with inexplicable shifts of tense to leave readers as uninvolved as they are uninspired. A lumpen collection of impudent fellows, 'motley buffoons', tomfoolery and 'quite wonderfully pretty girls' leaves you wondering if it's all supposed to be a Russian parody of Sherlock Holmes or a particularly poor tribute to an already flimsy tale of Victorian England. It's difficult to know whether it originally read like this in its native language or if it's just the victim of a particularly unsympathetic translation. Whatever the reason, this is an unconvincing and often irritating tale, made all the worse by the smug headings that herald the introduction of each chapter. As cold and uninviting as its title. (Kirkus UK)show more

About Boris Akunin

Boris Akunin is the pseudonym of Grigory Chkhartishvili. He has been compared to Gogol, Tolstoy and Arthur Conan Doyle, and his Erast Fandorin books have sold over eighteen million copies in Russia alone. He lives in Moscow. more

Review quote

... a sparkling romp of a story... [with a] witty and beautifully constructed plot ... The Winter Queen has echoes of the plots of the nineteenth-century classics all Russians know: duels, reckless gambling, superfluous men and mysterious beauties whose salons are full of despairing admirers -- Jasper Rees TLS 'He's [Fandorin] ... an engaging personality - conscientious, honourable, and pleasingly naive. Hence one feels the instant appeal of this gentle mystery, and appreciates the extraordinary Russian success of Boris Akunin ... It's a parable about the death of hope and innocence, as well as an effectively concocted story -- Lesley Chamberlain Independent Boris Akunin has written a series of novels set in Tsarist Russia in the 1970s and featuring Erast Fandorin, a naive young police investigator ... the story propels the idealistic Fandorin into the company of enigmatic and beautiful women, devious conspirators and a most unlikely Svengali intent on world domination ... This may not be what we expect from Russian fiction, but it's all very fast-moving and enjoyable -- Nick Rennison Crime Time The mixture of the grisly and the lighthearted is characteristic of Boris Akunin, who in Russia is roughly the counterpart of John Grisham ... The Winter Queen is as delicate and elegant as a Faberge egg -- Lev Grossman Time Magazine A masterful tongue-in-cheek mixture of crime and historical fiction -- Ash Tarhuni, Bookseller WATERSTONES BOOKS QUARTERLYshow more

Rating details

7,448 ratings
3.86 out of 5 stars
5 28% (2,085)
4 39% (2,920)
3 25% (1,891)
2 6% (449)
1 1% (103)
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