Pelagia and the White Bulldog
by Boris Akunin
you have enjoyed Boris Akunin’s popular series about Fandorin,
here he is again with a new series and a new protagonist. This time
she is a nun, name of Sister Pelagia with ginger hair, freckles and
a keen talent for solving crimes. Zavolzhsk is a rural town a cut
above the average thanks to its canny bishop, but into this idyll
comes the unwelcome presence of Vladimir Lvovich Bubentsov, the Synodical
Inspector from St Petersburg come to root out any religious dissenters.
Meanwhile, Bishop Mitrofanii has sent Pelagia to the estate of his
elderly aunt. She is a fanatical breeder of white bulldogs and one
of them has been poisoned. So Pelagia has to find out whodunit, but
who is responsible for the two headless human bodies and why?
In common with the chronicles of Fandorin here is another wonderfully
inventive book which adds a new dimension to crime fiction. Pelagia
is a more accessible character than Fandorin, although the person
who most comes to life (apart from the villainous Bubentsov) is the
bishop. It is a teasing plot with quite a few bodies and a variation
on the old classic country house murder, with the addition of a wild
Circassian, head hunting natives and plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor.
There is more in here than just a story; Akunin writes about Zavolzhsk
as if he lives there, describing the people and their way of life
together with the bishop’s recipe for running such a place.
It all adds up to a satisfying, rich feast of a novel and best of
all, like his other novels, this gives a convincing picture of rural
Russia in the late 19th century from a Russian’s point of view.
This is mercifully free of the clichés anybody else would pepper
it with, which is very possibly its very best feature.
Historical Crime - Late 19th century, Russia
More at Amazon UK
NOTE: US edition is different
Rachel A Hyde