My Dearest Readers,
Wanting to celebrate the first “Talk like Jane Austen Day” I have endeavored to write this review in the style appropriate to that most beloved of periods – Regency.
The Erast Fandorin Historical Mystery Novels first came to my attention with the praise sang by Lonely Planet as a fine example of modern Russian literature. During my stay in Russia earlier this year, I endeavored to look for it but alas, when we found ourselves at a delightful little English book seller, it pained me to discovery that our guide had been left at our lodgings, and I could not, try as I might, remember the name of the author. I insisted on inquiring after a “Winter Queen” and even my references to the “Russian Sherlock Holmes” failed in bringing about success. So I was left with no other choice but to immediately order it from the kind people at Book Depository as soon as we returned to our humble Abode.
As I have earlier mentioned, “The Winter Queen” is but the first of the Erin Fadorin Mysteries and also the realization of a fascinating Idea by Mr A. – he believes there are 16 different types of Mystery Novels and decided to dedicate each of Mr. F’s books to a different one. This first example is a Conspiracy Mystery, the following a Spy Mystery, then a Closed Set-up Mystery and so forth. I hope you agree with me on how Devilishly fun this endeavor sounds like?
At the start of the narrative, in the year of 1876, Mr. F is not yet one-and-twenty and has just started his career at the Criminal Investigation Department of the City of M–, Russia. His first real assignment is the investigation of a university student who unfortunately decides to kill himself using the so called Russian Roulette – which at the time was called American Roulette!
On his search for the Truth, Mr. F finds himself in the middle, if you can believe it Dear Readers, of a far-reaching International Conspiracy. Mr. A very effectively contrasts the comical innocence of his Hero – who is by no means lacking in intelligence – with the decadence of XIX century M–, not unlike that of our own Victorian London. Indeed, Mr. A shamelessly describes aristocrats giving way to the most appalling of vices while the winds of Revolution surround them.
So it came to pass that I found in The Winter Queen exactly what I was looking for – lively descriptions of life in Czarist Russia, a main character who is not perfect (as you well know, pictures of perfection make me sick and wicked), but who you can see is learning from his mistakes. I also took great enjoyment from the very melodramatic Russian ending.
I am very much looking forward to the next one in the series.
I remain yours, etc,
Post Scriptum: Halloween has almost come and with it the end of my very first RIP Challenge. Oh what good fun we had!