Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New Release: A Razor Wrapped in Silk

I don't think I've made any secret of the fact that I'm a big fan of R.N. Morris' Russian historical mystery novels.  I read his first Porfiry Petrovich book, The Gentle Axe (also known as A Gentle Axe), before I started blogging but you can read my thoughts on the second, A Vengeful Longing, here.  While in the first book, we suffered through a bleak winter in St. Petersburg and in the second we choked through the unbearable summer, this new novel, A Razor Wrapped in Silk, leads us through a foggy autumn in the city of the Tsar.

Porfiry Petrovich, the famed detective from Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, is an investigating magistrate who is well known for his unique mannerisms and unparalleled success in solving crimes.  In this outing, he is working on two seemingly unrelated crimes -- the disappearance of child factory workers and the murder of a society mistress.  Porfiry is determined to solve the crimes in his own way despite the interference of the special police, an infiltrator in his home, a surly companion and even the wishes of the Tsar himself.

I was most impressed while reading this novel by the way that it explored Porfiry's aging mind and body.  Unlike Agatha Christie's never-wavering Poirot, Porfiry begins to feel the pressures of age.  Failing eyesight, achy bones and a wandering mind are just a few of the things he believes are starting to affect his work.  And yet, he remains brilliant and professional and his handling of the cases presented to him is masterful.  His relationship with his young assistant, Pavel Pavlovich, is also tested in a touching and believable way.  Pavel is losing faith in his aging mentor and yet still sees him as a virile competitor when it comes to the affections of a young woman.  I almost felt the mysteries to be a subplot to the much more interesting character studies that were happening in this novel.  Morris' prose is a pleasure to read and I am disappointed that his next novel will not be (correction follows) there will only be one more novel in this series.  However, I am hoping that his next project is the beginning of something just as brilliant.

Searching through the fog,

Support our site and buy A Razor Wrapped in Silk on Amazon or find it at your local library.  We received a copy for review from the author.


  1. Hi Kristen, thanks for the lovely review. Just to correct one detail, Razor is not the last Porfiry novel. There is one more to come out in Spring 2011, The Cleansing Flames.


  2. Just a little comment to say that I really like the cover! :)

  3. I have to say that my experience with The Brothers Karamazov was so bad that I would avoid this just for the connection.

  4. Glad to hear it, Roger! I'm already waiting!

    Alexandra - This series has the most beautiful covers.

    Jenners - This is a much more accessible read about the same time period. I would probably recommend these to anyone.