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Murder on the Leviathan | [Boris Akunin]

Murder on the Leviathan

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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 confined 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?

©1998 Boris Akunin; (P)2004 Books on Tape

What the Critics Say

"Akunin writes like a hybrid of Caleb Carr, Agatha Christie, and Elizabeth Peters....The atmospheric historical detail gives depth to the twisting plot." (Publishers Weekly)
"Murder on the Leviathan casts a crafty puzzle in a sophisticated setting....Akunin's dry observations on the moral poverty of the upper classes are drolly set off by his lush descriptions of the material luxuries by which they measure the value of life itself." (The New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (116 )
5 star
 (34)
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4.1 (30 )
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4.2 (28 )
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  •  
    Svetlana OR, United States 12-23-04
    Svetlana OR, United States 12-23-04 Member Since 2004

    CBETA

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Second Book About Fandorin"

    After his adventures described in "the Winter Queen," young Russian diplomat travels to Japan on board of Leviathan, where a series of unfortunate and mysterious events take place. The setting of the novel somewhat reminds Agatha's stories, but Akunin's book offers more than a thrilling mystery: the language is truly exquisite, and the translation into English did not ruin it. I have read the book in Russian and listened to it in English, and loved the both versions. I just wish more books from the series about Erast Fandorin were available in English, and I certainly will continue to look for them.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Chicago, IL, United States 06-27-04
    James Chicago, IL, United States 06-27-04 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    47
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    15
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    "Murder on the Leviathan"

    Well read and well written...harkening back to those thrilling days of yester year. The reader is pitch perfect for the tale that far outdistances dear Agatha.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Armen BROOMALL, PA, USA 11-11-06
    Armen BROOMALL, PA, USA 11-11-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    174
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    "READ WINTER QUEEN 1ST"

    This is the second in the series and should be read only AFTER Winter Quenn is consumed.
    Not an easy book to listen to - the narrator is excellent but the novel is a little convoluted. There are chapters 'written' by the characters. I liked it but - but less than I did WQ.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bonnie Gualala, CA, USA 05-22-05
    Bonnie Gualala, CA, USA 05-22-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Simplistic dialog, unlikely plot...plods"

    I'm a mystery fan, especially of the classic British or European variety (Agatha Cristie, Simenon, etc.) and thought I would enjoy this book. I was unable to finish it; the characters, plot, and dialog were so simplistic and unbelievable and dull that I couldn't stand it. The reader was good and did the best he could with the material given.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Bothell, WA, USA 01-27-05
    Laura Bothell, WA, USA 01-27-05
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    "Not as good as the first installment"

    This one is not as good as The Winter Queen, but one does want to know what becomes of Fandorin. It is entertaining, and the mystery I thought wasn't as easy to solve.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martha rapid city, SD, USA 08-23-04
    Martha rapid city, SD, USA 08-23-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A classic mystery"

    a "Agatha Christy" type setting and characters. I enjoyed this

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Copenhagen, N/A, Denmark 04-20-05
    Mark Copenhagen, N/A, Denmark 04-20-05
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    "A new cult classic"

    These novels are bestsellers in Russia and it's easy to see why. I envy the reader who discovers them for the first time.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nolan Malone Hawai'i 02-03-14
    Nolan Malone Hawai'i 02-03-14 Member Since 2005

    Books have always been an escape for me: initially from studies, now from over-working. A good story-teller will always get my attention.

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    "Good, old-time murder mystery…with great narration"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    If you're someone who can appreciate an old, drawing room-style mystery, this one will not disappoint. It has all the usual tropes -- diverse group of individuals with their own secrets, all trapped on a ship, suspicious with one another -- but is elevated about the "same old thing" with the great narration by Michael Kramer, who is fast becoming one of my favorite readers on Audible.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Murder on the Leviathan?

    Characters named "Gauche" and "Sangfroid" are a nice tongue-in-cheek addition to the increasingly complex mystery.


    What does Michael Kramer bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I have heard Mr. Kramer in other works -- Mike Carey's Felix Castor series, and Thomas Perry's Butcher Boy series -- and yet he still impresses me with his cadence and facility with accents (which was of particular importance in this book with multiple key players). I'm sure that all readers have their own tastes when it comes to those who read our stories, but I must say that Mr. Kramer is among my favorites.


    Any additional comments?

    Buy it for the by-gone story; stick with it for the storyteller.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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