I'll admit that is not the first sentence of The Winter Queen by Boris Akunin. It's the first chapter heading -- but isn't it amazing? You don't even have to get past the chapter title to experience the fantastic writing of this book.
After giving up on The Mill on The Floss for now, I decided to go back and read The Winter Queen for a second time. It had been a while since I first read it (Amazon says I bought it in February 2005) which usually means that I can't remember much about it. It turned out that I remembered most of it but it was still throughly enjoyable this time through. Akunin is a fantastic writer and I also give credit to the translator of this book, Andrew Bromfield. He does an admirable job of translating this book from its native Russian.
The main character in The Winter Queen is a 20 year old clerk in the Moscow department of detectives in 1876. Erast Fandorin begins his adventure when he is assigned some investigatory work into the mildly suspicious suicide of a college student. This small and seemingly simple case leads Fandorin straight into the middle of a worldwide conspiracy. His life is constantly in danger but his intelligence and self-control help him to perserve in the most treacherous of situations.
This book was mentioned in my previous post about the best detectives around the world and it definitely deserves its place on the list. There are eleven books so far in the Russian series, 5 of which have been translated into English. I am going to re-read the rest of the series over the next couple of months so I promise to write more about this high-quality series again.
Moving on to another mystery,
Buy The Winter Queen on Amazon or find it at your local library.