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
Searching through the fog,
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