Many new acquaintances of Boris Akunin's dandyish detective may find, after joining him for this sixth adventure, that they have to lock the door against the chill and catch up with the rest. Dapper and droll, Erast Fandorin is a semi-detached sleuth in late-Tsarist Moscow who can charm like Wimsey even as he plots like Bond.
This time, the vicious "old war dog" Khrapov, new Governor of Siberia, is slain on a train – with Fandorin in attendance. So he must clear his name and find some terrorists who boast friends in surprisingly high places.
The revolutionary "Green" and his comrades take Akunin almost into Conrad territory, while Fandorin delights with his silken ironies and smart manoeuvres. Stylishly translated by Andrew Bromfield, this latest case shows a crime star of all the Russias still blazing bright.