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The Winter Queen: A Novel | [Boris Akunin]

The Winter Queen: A Novel

What would cause a talented young student from a wealthy family to shoot himself in the Alexander Gardens in front of a promenading public? Perhaps it might be the ennui and decadence so popular in France and now migrating over to the upper classes of Russia. The chief of the Criminal Investigations Division of the Moscow Police certainly thinks so, and paradoxically puts his newest recruit, Erast Fandorin, on the case.
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Publisher's Summary

What would cause a talented young student from a wealthy family to shoot himself in the Alexander Gardens in front of a promenading public? Perhaps it might be the ennui and decadence so popular in France and now migrating over to the upper classes of Russia. The chief of the Criminal Investigations Division of the Moscow Police certainly thinks so, and paradoxically puts his newest recruit, Erast Fandorin, on the case. Fandorin is a young man of irresistible charm, considerable naivete, and a penchant for inadvertently stumbling on the right answer. In his hands, the matter proves not to be an open-and-shut case of suicide, but a phenomenon that will repeat itself again. Before this case is over, this promising young man will have gone far.

©2003 Boris Akunin; (P)2003 Books on Tape, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (165 )
5 star
 (51)
4 star
 (54)
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1 star
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Overall
3.8 (52 )
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Story
4.0 (52 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Svetlana OR, United States 06-24-04
    Svetlana OR, United States 06-24-04 Member Since 2004

    CBETA

    HELPFUL VOTES
    56
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    "Sometime after Anna Korenina"

    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.

    17 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne Montgomery Village, MD, United States 02-16-07
    Anne Montgomery Village, MD, United States 02-16-07 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fun"

    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.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Bothell, WA, USA 01-27-05
    Laura Bothell, WA, USA 01-27-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    84
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    "This is a fun book to listen to"

    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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Treetown reader Ann Arbor, Michigan 07-06-04
    Treetown reader Ann Arbor, Michigan 07-06-04 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
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    "Please, more translations of Erast Fandorin books"

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca brentwood, CA, United States 08-01-08
    Rebecca brentwood, CA, United States 08-01-08 Member Since 2007

    Daily Dog Walker and LONG Silicon Valley commutes, so I gulp through and love lotsa books, especially literary fiction and Mystery.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    251
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    "Arsenic & Old Lace Russian Style"

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Armen BROOMALL, PA, USA 11-11-06
    Armen BROOMALL, PA, USA 11-11-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A MUST READ"

    One of the best historical thrillers I've read - and I've read most of them. The narrator is top notch. Give this a try - you'll thank me.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Nelson 10-29-11
    J. Nelson 10-29-11 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Meh"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Olga Billerica, MA, United States 03-03-10
    Olga Billerica, MA, United States 03-03-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "Great Russian mystery of 19th century"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    susan Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada 03-05-12
    susan Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada 03-05-12 Member Since 2011

    I like to weed and read at the same time.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very hard to follow"
    Would you try another book from Boris Akunin and/or Michael Kramer?

    It's hard to comment on the author because I found the narration of the book almost impossible to follow. It's too fast and often muffled.I had to check that my MP3 player was not playing the book too fast. I love Russian literature and detective stories and hoped that this would be a perfect combination.


    Would you recommend The Winter Queen to your friends? Why or why not?

    No. I gave up half way because of the narration.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Michael Kramer?

    No particular name but someone who could enunciate clearly.


    Any additional comments?

    For me this was a waste of money and I'm glad that I bought it 'on sale' and not with a monthly credit

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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