The Winter Queen: A Novel Hardcover – May 6 2003
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Three million copies of Akunin's Erast Fandorin historical mystery series have been sold in Russia, where the author is a celebrity. This volume--the first of nine installments so far--should get the series off to a rousing start in the U.S. It's set in Czarist Russia and stars the naive but eager Fandorin as a young investigator with the Moscow police. Why would a university student shoot himself in the middle of the Alexander Gardens? Fandorin sets out to find the answer and soon lands in the middle of a far-reaching international conspiracy. Yakunin effectively juxtaposes the comical innocence of his hero against the decadence of nineteenth-century Moscow--aristocrats idling in gambling clubs while the winds of revolution freshen. In his debut, Fandorin comes across as an odd but appealing mix of Holmesian brilliance and Inspector Clousseauian bumbling. Occasionally, Akunin's style seems a bit affected, aping the manner of, say, Thackeray, commenting on the foibles of his characters, but at the same time, that nineteenth-century tone is part of the book's appeal. Anne Perry fans, in particular, will enjoy this series. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
“Mystery readers should enjoy this story. It is as Russian, and as international, as caviar and vodka! A crafty tale full of atmosphere, character, and action. I look forward to hearing more about the young detective Erast Fandorin.”–Anne Perry
“Elaborate, intricate, profoundly Czarist, and Russian to its bones, as though Tolstoy had sat down to write a murder mystery and came out with The Winter Queen. A wondrous strange and appealing novel, and not quite like anything you’ve read before.”–Alan Furst
"Atmospheric and engrossing, The Winter Queen is a historical thriller from the world of the czar. Boris Akunin is Russia's answer to Caleb Carr." -Kevin Baker
Top Customer Reviews
The book ends triumphantly but Fandorin's triumph turns bittersweet n the last few paragraphs. Although this made for a disconcerting jolt at the end of the book it is quite understandable when one considers that Winter Queen is the first in a long series of Fandorin mysteries. A happily ever after ending would not leave much room for drama in the next installment.Read more ›
In this rollicking story of a Moscow generally beyond our ken, Akunin introduces Erast Fandorin. He's a young man of aristocratic lineage lacking the financial security of Kokorin, the youthful suicide. Erast must make his way with his skills, and these are many. Language, in particular, is a significant talent, which is why he's sent to London seeking more information. He stakes out The Winter Queen - a down at heels hotel - because one of his contacts, the gorgeous Amalia Bezhetskaya seems to be using the hotel as a "drop". Tracking down people in London is risky at the best of times, but Fandorin, who is clearly too trusting, falls into one trap after another in his quest. He's also, in the best Russian tradition, too respectful of the nobility - until they prove unworthy of it.
Akunin is able to mix plot and characters with seamless talent. He builds this story and those involved with a deft touch. At less than 250 pages, to incorporate so much into such a limited space takes a rare skill. Nor, even with the economy of words, does Akunin leave anything out. The story flows and builds, starting from an incident in a Moscow park and culminating in a global conspiracy. It's a stimulating read and one which any "mystery" reader would enjoy - as would nearly everybody. stephen a. haines - [Ottawa, Canada]]
The book takes place in 1876 Moscow, where a good-looking, wealthy young gentleman approaches some ladies in the park and shoots himself in the head. Some in the Criminal Investigation Department wish to close the file immediately, an obvious suicide by a lovesick youth, but young Fandorin, a newcomer to the department, takes the investigation seriously. He starts uncovering all sorts of interesting secrets and conspiracies, taking him to London and back. Along the way he must deal with attempts on his life, learn how to gamble for high stakes, preserve his honor by issuing a challenge to a duel, and decide whether an agent in London is trust-worthy or a double-agent.
Some here have likened Fandorin to James Bond, or a Russian Sherlock Holmes, but he doesn't really fit either bill since he is too young, naive, eager to please and vulnerable compared to those classic characters. At various times in the novel Fandorin prepares to meet his maker, including one chilling scene in London where he gets to take a swim in the Thames, Harry Houdini style. We know he must make it to the next book in the series, but he seems to make it by the skin of his teeth. I agree with the reviewer who likens him more to the young protaginist from Caleb Carr's The Alienist, a much closer match in my opinion.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
THE WINTER QUEEN is an interesting journey into Czarist Russia. Well written and almost lyrical at times, with a great sense of humor and adventure. Read morePublished on March 4 2012 by James A. Anderson
Akunin's "Winter Queen" is a wonderful addition to the mystery genre. We meet Erast Fandorin in 1876 Moscow, as he attempts to solve a mysterious suicide. Read morePublished on June 1 2004 by Peter LaPrade
This is the first in Boris Akunin's series of novels featuring the detective Erast Fandorin in 1870s Czarist Moscow that has been the rage of Russia in recent years, and it is a... Read morePublished on May 18 2004 by Jay Dickson
"The Winter Queen" by Boris Akunin is set in 1876, Czarist Russia, and introduced me
to Erast Fandorin, the author's young investigator with the Moscow police. Read more
Akunin's historical mystery series is hugely popular in his native Russia and spans about ten books, the first of which is this one. Read morePublished on May 9 2004 by A. Ross
Having read all of the original Fandorin novels, I was a bit skeptical about the first installment translated into English. Read morePublished on May 9 2004 by Borisovich
Despite some interesting characters and occasionally rich and lovely language, this book was irretrieveably brought down by a frankly silly plot. Read morePublished on May 8 2004 by N. Quast