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.
PORT SAID TO ADEN
At Port Said another passenger boarded the Leviathan, occupying stateroom number eighteen, the last first-class cabin still vacant, and Gustave Gauches mood immediately improved. The newcomer looked highly promising: that self-assured and unhurried way of carrying himself, that inscrutable expression on the handsome face. At first glance he seemed quite young, but when he removed his bowler hat, the hair on his temples was unexpectedly gray. A curious specimen, the commissioner decided. It was clear straight off that he had character and what they call "a past." All in all, definitely a client for papa Gauche.
The passenger walked up the gangway, swinging his shoulder bag, while the porters sweated as they struggled under the weight of his ample baggage: expensive suitcases that squeaked, high-quality pigskin traveling bags, huge bundles of books, and even a folding tricycle (one large wheel, two small ones, and an ...
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