The State Counsellor / Boris Akunin
ARC - January release date (in UK)
trans. by Andrew Bromfield (the same translator who has a new translation of War & Peace now available from HarperCollins)
I was lucky enough to pick up one of these ARCs a couple of months ago. I've been saving it for the Russian Reading Challenge, and I started it a few minutes into the new year. As with every Akunin I've read, once I've begun it's hard to read anything else in between! In this 6th volume of the Erast Fandorin mystery series, Fandorin is a bit older, a bit more settled into his role as a government detective. For those who haven't read anything in this series before, the setting is pre-revolutionary Russia, and Fandorin is a handsome, charming private detective who has worked his way up into a position as State Counsellor, the head detective for Moscow province under the Governor General, Prince Dolgorukoi. The story begins with a murder -- a general is murdered on his private train and Fandorin is the prime suspect. He needs to clear his name by discovering who the killer was and why he killed the general, but he is thrown back onto his own devices for the investigation as his government role is usurped by a flashy policeman drawn in from St. Petersburg. Working independently -- though of course with the help of his trusty Japanese valet -- he charms a revolutionary young woman and works his way into the ranks of the young terrorists swarming through Moscow. As usual, his leaps of logic and implacable reasoning lead him toward success. These mysteries are light reading, but also surprisingly violent, perhaps reflecting the outlook of Georgian author Boris Akunin (real name Grigory Chkhartishvili). Each volume in the series so far is written in a slightly different style, reflecting the many possible types of mystery stories. This book is very much a political thriller, and Erast has to play the political game to survive this time around. My only complaint is that it was pretty clear to me by about halfway through who the 'bad guy' was, but it was still an entertaining read about one of my favourite detectives.