©2003 Boris Akunin; (P)2003 Books on Tape, Inc.
"Akunin effectively juxtaposes the comical innocence of his hero against the decadence of nineteenth-century Moscow." (Booklist)
"The Russian Ian Fleming...Akunin's accomplished writing is a treat." (The Sunday Times)
"Mystery readers should enjoy this story....A crafty tale full of atmosphere, character, and action." (Anne Perry)
I have read this book in Russian, watch the Russian movie, and now listened to it in English. I am very impressed with the translation, and with the reading as well.
For those who is in doubt: This book, called ?Azazel? in Russian, starts the series of wonderfully written detective stories taking place in Russia sometime after Anna Korenina and before the Revolution. The style is superb, the plot is intriguing; this book (and the series that followed) is one of the best things that happened to the contemporary Russian literature.
Currently, only two books of this series are translated into English (as far as I know): the Winter Queen and Murder on the Leviathan.
I gave this entry four stars because the narrator did such an excellent job. The story is fun, though rather silly. It is very Russian, very melodramatic, almost a parody. The mystery is of the 19th, early 20th century serial variety, with the hero narrowly escaping death every other chapter or so. For plot and characters, I would give the book no more than 3 stars. Still, given the excellent reader, I will probably get the sequel. Maybe our hero grows up some.
Really enjoyed the humor in this book. The protagonist is such an innocent young man. The whole book has a "tongue in cheek" tone to it. I also enjoyed the narrator's reading of the book. My only slight complaint is that "the answer" to the mystery is rather obvious. But that didn't really detract from my enjoyment of the book.
I read this after I read Murder on the Leviathin, and highly recommend this one be read first. There appears to be a large gap between the two books and I, for one, want to find out more about Erast and what adventures he had betweem his first job and his trip on the Leviathin. Both were charming books...very character driven, and filled with amazing twists and miraculous escapes. There are enough red herrings to feed a family of four! I look forward to more translations of this quirky detective.
Daily Dog Walker and LONG Silicon Valley commutes, so I gulp through and love lotsa books, especially literary fiction and Mystery.
I WISH I owned more Russian nuance in my soul-- because I have a suspicion with Akunin's books there's a lot more than meets the translation-eye. Based on the reviews I was expecting something "Silly" but these books are not that -- I'd call this black comedy, in mystery attire. As with some of the Russian satirists I've read, I get a sense of a light burbling plot with a lot more underneath than the reader realizes till you reach a few fine plot points and then the shattering end. One reviewer mentioned that it was wise to read/listen to this book first and I echo that -- I've read them all now and this one is indispensable for explaining the central character and much that follows. I'm intrigued by this writer and did want to hear more, but I would not call these books simple or silly by any stretch of the imagination - would love to hear from Russian readers who could attest to the layers these mysteries might reflect in their own language - the tone is light but I suspect there's more that burbles beneath...and if there isn't, they're still good fun.
I have read all books of Boris Akunin in Russian. Love his historical mysteries. A lot of information about Russia of 19th century. May be a bit na?ve, melodramatic, but still so much fun to read. Was nicely surprised by the good translation and the excellent job done by the narrator.
It was okay. After a few months I saw this book in my library and couldn't recall a single thing about the story so it didn't make much of an impression. But that's me, it may be very interesting to others.
An OK novel. I have read later novels in the series and they're better. It's a good start. Little far-fetched at points and it has an interesting ending. Many twists and turns along the way.for a mystery novel I can see why I was nominated for an award. One of the areas that I think could have use some improvement is the translation. Not quite sure it was always the best. Three out of four stars.
This is the first book in a series of Russian mysteries. The story is filled with horrid deaths and mutilation.
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