SYNOPSIS: While investigating a suicide that doesn’t seem like a suicide, Collegiate Registar Erast Fandorin uncovers a conspiracy that could potentially change the course of Russian history.
I didn’t know what to expect from this mystery, but what I read was not it. The book begins like any other mystery, but then all of a sudden it becomes a James Bond type mystery with femme fatales, accented villains, explosions, narrow escapes from near death experiences, and any other James Bond-esque trope you can think of except for a cool car that explodes by the end of the movie. There were multiple points where I was thinking “Wait, what?” because what happened next did not seem to go with what I read before or because what I just read felt a little too ridiculous for the world of the novel. I’m not sure if it’s just that the translation made it seem that way or if it’s that way in the original Russian as well. It was also very easy to spot the villains because practically every character was a villain. Fandorin had one friend in the beginning, but then he ditched him so he had no allies for the rest of the book until the very end when he made up with his friend from the beginning. I wish that the novel wasn’t so nonstop in the spy movie action because Fandorin was a sensitive male character and I think he would’ve benefited from a couple of friends who weren’t trying to kill him. There is also a female character who’s only in the book for Fandorin to fall in love with instantly, then marry, and then for some weird reason in the last chapter ***SPOILER ALERT*** she gets blown up in a bomb explosion that was clearly meant for Fandorin and then the book just ends with him looking at her severed arm which furthers the James Bond comparison that was running through my head for the entire book. I found this book to be very weird and at times extremely confusing, but it was fun to read a story that was created in a different country. While this isn’t your typical mystery I think if you want to check out a strange story and know what your getting into read it and if the fact that there isn’t much character work and it’s just one plot point after another doesn’t appeal to you then don’t. It’s not a must read book, but it also isn’t a you need to skip this kind of book.