Paris, 1878: Eccentric antiquarian Lord Littleby and his ten servants are found murdered in Littlebys 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 hairnone other than Erast Fandorin, the celebrated detective of Boris Akunins 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 suspectsincluding 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 treasuresall of whom are contained 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 ships passengers are murdered, one by one?
Already an international sensation, Boris Akunins latest page-turner transports the reader back to the glamorous, dangerous past in a richly atmospheric tale of suspense on the high seas.
The New York Times Book Review
Akunin’s prose is clean and swift, pausing only to set a scene with a few well-chosen details before resuming the hairpin curves of the action. If Pushkin had tried his hand at detective action, it might have turned out something like this.
The Boston Globe
A tasty dish...There are secret panels, hidden tunnels, a false mustache, intercepted letters, gunfights, and a glamorous female villain....Akunin knows how to build suspense, but he also enjoys himself; he shows the reader a good time.
The Wall Street Journal
Akunin’s Erast Fandorin novels feature a Slavic Sherlock Holmes who speaks Japanese and English, is skilled at martial arts and has lady-killer good looks....Millions of readers have been seduced by the books’ elegant style and classy, retro feel.
Marilyn Stasio - The New York Times
Snappishly witty in Andrew Bromfield's crisp translation, 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.
Akunin writes like a hybrid of Caleb Carr, Agatha Christie and Elizabeth Peters in his second mystery to be published in the U.S.
The imperial/aristocratic milieu pays homage to Agatha Christie, the fiendlishly clever Chinese-box plotting to Ellery Queen. Akunin's most distinctive contribution is a tone of dryly amused irony that continues to the last sad line.
Library Journal - Barbara Hoffert
This is another intelligent and deftly plotted work by Russian philologist/mystery writer Akunin, perhaps a bit more traditional in approach than The Winter Queen (as the publicity suggests, it's obviously an homage to Agatha Christie) but still full of surprises and incisive in its characterization and psychological depth. Essential for mystery collections.
[Akunin is] the Russian Ian Fleming....[The Winter Queen] features abduction, villains, beautiful women and, of course, espionage....Akunin’s accomplished writing is a treat.
Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club
A warning to readers after finishing this novel you will need more novels featuring Erast Fandorin....Akunin succeeds in transporting us completely into nineteenth-century Russia, yet the novel is a definitively modern mystery.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
To me, Russian writer Akunin is one of the best writers of all time and his Fandorin series are extremely exciting and refreshing to read. If you want to know what people in Europe & Russia are reading nowadays-- get this book!! Millions of... Read More
Judge rules unused Borders gift cards to be worthless(May 23 2013) Borders owes nothing to holders of roughly $210.5 million of gift cards that had not been used by the time the bookstore chain shut down, a Manhattan federal...