Excerpt from Murder on the Leviathan by Boris Akunin, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Murder on the Leviathan

An Erast Fandorin novel

by Boris Akunin

Murder on the Leviathan
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2004, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2005, 240 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


On the morning of the nineteenth of March, the commissioner, wrapped up against the damp wind in a warm woollen muffler, had been standing close to the gangway beside the captain, Mr. Josiah Cliff, and the first lieutenant, M. Charles Renier. They were greeting the passengers. The brass band played English and French marching tunes in turn, the crowd on the pier generated an excited buzz, and Gauche puffed away in a rising fury, biting down hard on his wholly blameless pipe. For, alas, due to the cold weather all the passengers were wearing raincoats, overcoats, greatcoats, or capotes. Just try figuring out who has a badge and who doesn’t! That was unpleasant surprise number two.

Everyone due to board the steamship in Southampton had arrived, indicating that the criminal must have shown up for the sailing despite the loss of the badge. Evidently he must think policemen were total idiots. Or was he hoping to lose himself in the immense crowd? Or perhaps he simply had no other choice?

In any case, one thing was clear: Gauche would have to go as far as Le Havre. He had been allocated the cabin reserved for honored guests of the shipping line.

Immediately after the ship had sailed a banquet was held in the first-class grand salon, an event the commissioner had especially high hopes for, since the invitations bore the instruction "Admission on presentation of a gold badge or first-class ticket." Why would anyone bother to carry a ticket around when it was so much simpler to pin on your little gold leviathan?

At the banquet Gauche let his imagination run wild as he mentally frisked everyone present. He was even obliged to stick his nose into some ladies’ décolletés to check whether they had anything dangling in there on a gold chain, perhaps a whale, perhaps simply a pendant. How could he not check?

Everyone was drinking champagne, nibbling on various savory delicacies from silver trays, and dancing, but Gauche was hard at work, eliminating from his list those who had their badge in place. The men caused him the biggest problems. Many of the swine had attached the whale to their watch chains or even stuck it in their waistcoat pockets, and the commissioner was obliged to inquire after the exact time on eleven occasions.

Surprise number three was that all the officers had their badges in place, but no less than four passengers were wearing no emblem, including two of the female sex! The blow that had cracked open Lord Littleby’s skull like a nutshell was so powerful it could surely have been struck only by a man, and a man of exceptional strength at that. On the other hand, as a highly experienced specialist in criminal matters, the commissioner was well aware that in a fit of passion or hysterical excitement even the weakest of ladies was capable of performing genuine miracles. He had no need to look far for examples. Why, only last year a milliner from Neuilly, a frail little chit of a thing, had thrown her unfaithful lover out a fourth-floor window—and he had been a well-nourished rentier twice as fat and half as tall again as herself. So it would not do at all to eliminate women who happened to have no badge from the list of suspects. Although who had ever heard of a woman, especially a woman of good society, mastering the knack of administering injections like that?

With one thing and another, the investigation on board the Leviathan threatened to drag on, and so the commissioner had set about dealing with things in his customary thorough fashion. Captain Josiah Cliff was the only officer of the steamship who had been made privy to the secret investigation, and he had instructions from the management of the shipping company to afford the French guardian of the law every possible assistance. Gauche exploited this privilege quite unceremoniously by demanding that all individuals of interest to him be assigned to the same salon.

Excerpted from Murder on the Leviathan by Boris Akunin Copyright© 2004 by Boris Akunin. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Harmony
    Harmony
    by Carolyn Parkhurst
    In previous novels such as The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found, Carolyn Parkhurst has shown herself...
  • Book Jacket: Commonwealth
    Commonwealth
    by Ann Patchett
    Opening Ann Patchett's novel Commonwealth about two semi-functional mid-late 20th Century ...
  • Book Jacket: A Gentleman in Moscow
    A Gentleman in Moscow
    by Amor Towles
    It is June 21, 1922, and 33-year-old Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is convicted of being a class ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Darling Days
    by iO Tillett Wright

    A devastatingly powerful memoir of one young woman's extraordinary coming of age.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Circling the Sun
by Paula McLain

An intoxicatingly vivid portrait of colonial Kenya and its privileged inhabitants.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.