Ben Spier
April 14, 2006 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Death of Achilles

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
publisher
Random House
genre
Mystery and Thriller, Fiction

We gave it an A-

In the fourth Erast Fandorin novel, The Death of Achilles, set in 1882, the ninja-trained diplomat/detective returns from Japan to Moscow, up-to-date with electricity and phones, yet mired in corruption. When friend Michel ”Achilles” Sobolev, a war hero, dies unheroically — in a German songstress’ boudoir — the sleuth must out-maneuver conniving higher-ups and descend into an underworld bristling with foppish safe-crackers and a vice den called the Hard Labor. Boris Akunin’s witty, flavorful whodunit gains gravitas in a fine, near-Dostoyevskian portrait of Fandorin’s quarry, a pale-eyed Chechen assassin as icily captivating as Hannibal Lecter.

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