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Special Assignments (Erast Fandorin Mysteries #5)

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  1,842 ratings  ·  80 reviews
Daring Russian sleuth Erast Fandorin takes on two new cunning adversaries in a pair of action-packed new mysteries--''The Jack of Spades,'' in which he matches wits with a clever swindler and his beautiful accomplice, and ''The Decorator,'' in which Fandorin
Title: Special Assignments
Author: Akunin, Boris
Publisher: Random House Inc
Publication Date: 2008/02/12
Number of Page
Paperback, 335 pages
Published February 12th 2008 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published January 1st 1999)
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Best Historical Mystery
174th out of 999 books — 2,669 voters
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Books set in Moscow
19th out of 53 books — 19 voters

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Community Reviews

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Melissa Proffitt
This pair of novellas puts Erast Fandorin on the trail of two Jacks. In "The Jack of Spades," Fandorin pursues the titular character, an infamous con artist who's come to Moscow to fleece the public; in "The Decorator" Fandorin must track down none other than Jack the Ripper.

"The Jack of Spades" is a good caper story. Momos, the Jack of Spades, is nearly as clever as Fandorin and has an excellent criminal mind. He cons Fandorin, Fandorin cons him, back and forth, and the ending is either unexpec
Nancy Oakes
This book is actually 2 novellas, if you will, containing two different stories.

In story #1, "The Jack of Spades," Fandorin is up against a clever con man whose calling card is the jack of spades. He leaves it behind when he has pulled off a very successful swindle, and things come to a head when an Englishman is swindled out of a huge amount of money that the government must repay. Enter our hero and his new assistant, Tulipov. This one was pretty light hearted and very enjoyable to read.


Well, I was almost sorry to get to the end of this book, because it means the end of the Erast Fandorin mysteries, at least until any more of the Russian versions get translated into English.

In this final English installment of the Moscow special investigator, we get two novellas. The first, "Jack of Spades," involves Fandorin with a master con artist, and it has a lighter touch than many of the other mysteries -- more humor, and in some ways, Fandorin's most worthy opponent.

The second, "The Dec
The fifth Inspector Fandorin mystery, this one is two chronologically sequential novellas. In the first, a mysterious con artist nicknamed the Jack of Spades is embarrassing the higher ups in Moscow, particularly Prince Dologorukoi, who dispatches Fandorin to set an elaborate con of his own to catch the swindler. This book also introduces a new assistant for the inspector, the desperately eager to please Anisii Tulipov, a sort of comic relief figure. With improbable disguises galore, full of the ...more
I came to this having read five or six other Fandorin mysteries previously, so you can tell that I'm a fan. This book didn't disappoint - if you like this sort of thing, then this is the sort of thing that you will like.
The book is actually two stories, one about a fraudster, the other about a serial killer. The link between the two is that we are introduced to Anissii Tulipov, Fandorin's first ever assistant. Or at least the first one he hires, I think. And the first story is basically told th
Akunin’s “Fandorin adventures” is a perfect choice if you are: a) a real detective lover b) admirer of classic Russian literature. In his novels Akunin depicts Russia (and not only Russia) at the end of XIX- beginning of the XX centuries where a brilliant detective, heartbreaker and admirer of Japanese philosophy Erast Fandorin elegantly solves the cruelest and trickiest crimes, getting acquainted with the members of Romanov dynasty, Ottoman pasha, Japanese ninja, most notorious criminals and mo ...more
This is the first book from Akunin I've read and I really liked it. Usually I can't bring myself to read English translations from Russian - I don't know, there's something missing in them, I think it's the innate humor of the Russian language - but this translation was very good and read really smoothly.

I didn't know what to expect, since all I knew about Fandorin was that he's a fan of things Japanese, has a Japanese servant and is good at martial arts - but the most entertaining feature of th
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 02, 2008 Kevin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Russophiles, puzzle-solvers, drama queens
Boris Akunin writes historical thrillers set in Imperialist Moscow and is the pseudonym of Grigory Chkhartishvili (an academic in his other life). I've read every English translation so far in his "Erast Fandorin" series, and every one is fantastic escapist literature. The characters are a bit over the top (as they should be) and the historical detail is rich. The writing is much better than the kind of blockbuster brain candy you get in most thrillers; they go down easy, but you don't feel stup ...more
Jill Hutchinson
I absolutely love this series of books translated from the Russian. The main character is Erast Fandorin, a special investigator of many talents who works for the Tsarist government in late 19th century Moscow. This book consists of two is rather amusing and concerns the Jack of Spades, a con man who is a master of his trade. The second tells a dark tale of a Jack the Ripper type murderer who is slaughtering local prositutes.........or is the killer actually the infamous Ripper? T ...more
Pietro Coen
This Akunin is good. He builds an intrigue that keeps the suspence until the very last page. And the historical background is very entertaining. We have two stories: the Jack of Spades and the Decorator. In the first one Fandorin is after a con man, much along the lines of Catch me if you can. It's good but I preferred the Decorator where it turns out that Jack the Ripper was a Russian medical student gone mad. The British police failed to catch him because he escaped to Moscow at the end of 188 ...more
I like very much Akunin's books because the historical references and his written style. This one contains actually two novellas. The first one relates to Jack the Ripper in Russia, something that I found far fetched, but there is a good description of police power, the society, and incredible poverty in Russia at that time. The second one is entartaining with allusions to what I presume newspaper news. Both were entertaining, with a good fast pace, and like most the two main protagonist: the de ...more
Aug 04, 2009 Mazel marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Moscou, fin du XIXe siècle.

Eraste Petrovitch Fandorine, chargé des missions spéciales auprès du gouverneur, se voit contraint de prendre le relais de la police classique, ridiculisée par un fort sympathique escroc.

L’homme, qui s’est lui-même baptisé "le Valet de Pique", prend un malin plaisir à s’enrichir avec brio sur le dos des notables de la ville.

Il ne manque jamais non plus l’occasion de leur servir une bonne leçon de savoir-vivre. Eux-mêmes bernés plusieurs fois, Fandorine et ses deux i
The book narrates two episodes in the life of that talented detective and stammerer Erast Fandorin. The first, Jack of Spades, is a mad-cap and rollicking cat-and-mouse adventure, with Fandorin pitting his wits against a clever swindler, who appears to be able to con enormous amounts of money even from the most cynical, such as Fandorin's boss, Prince Dolgorukoi. Accompanied by a trusting sidekick, Fandorin gets involved with beautiful women who may or may not be entirely genuine, dons several d ...more
Удивительно, как можно так написать - читаешь и сам как будто становишься маньяком-убийцей, нет, не маньяком, а человеком, восхищающемся Красотой. Читала сегодня два занятия подряд, слушая вполух сенсеев - настолько невозможно оторваться. И еще наконец-то до меня дошло какой формат нужен для айпэда. Могу читать на всех узыках - чего мне желать еще?
Akunin's novels on the adventures of Russian detective Erast Fandorin are a pleasure to read. Setting them in the 1880s, Akunin enjoys veering them from humor to horror, pastiche to tragedy, in a matter of pages. Fandorin is blessed with uncanny good luck, strength, beauty and the mind to catch criminals, but the complications from his loved ones and life in Moscow often put him in dilemmas that are nearly impossible for him to resolve. It makes for an excellent page turner.

Special Assignements
Ce livre regroupe deux nouvelles enqu?tes d'Eraste Fandorine, charg? des missions sp?ciales aupr?s du gouverneur de Moscou. Dans la premi?re histoire, il doit trouver quel est ce cambrioleur de g?nie qui humilie les plus grands personnages de la soci?t? moscovite jusqu'au gouverneur lui-m?me. Dans la seconde enqu?te, Fandorine est confront? ? un terrible assassin qu'il doit imp?rativement arr?ter avant la visite ? Moscou de l'empereur lui-m?me.

J'ai appr?ci? la premi?re enqu?te qui m?le tout ? la
This is the first Erast Fandorin Mystery that I've read, although not the first Akunin. The person who loaned it to me said, "It's so Russian" and I agree with that assessment wholeheartedly. Interesting look at 1880s Russia and well written. This is actually two short stories, the first I really enjoyed, the second was more of a serial killer tracking story - and while I was curious about the mystery, even judicious skimming didn't keep me from reading things and thinking, "ick."
Luke Meehan
Dual Fandorin novellas, where much of the charm is sketching, roaming and erasing new characters. The plots are thin, the people entertaining, the early-modern-Russian scenery wonderful (if perhaps a touch sanitised). Fun light reading from Akunin.
Kris McCracken
A collection of two novellas featuring the intrepid Fandorin, equal parts light and shade. The first is a remarkably light-hearted romp as our hero finds himself pursuing a con-man while trying to salvage his love life. An interesting comic turn from Akunin, if somewhat sleight.

Things take a decidedly darker turn in the second story, however. Exploring the idea that a fanatical serial killer - perhaps Jack the Ripper his very self - is stalking the women of Moscow, the tone and descriptions are
Valusalt hea. Esimene lugu rääkis Fandorini ja Potisoldati varjunime all tuntud meisterpetturi kokkupõrkest ja oli verevaba. Seda aga ei saa öelda teise loo kohta, kus Fandorin lahendab süngeid ja üliveriseid tapmisi, mis on toime pannud Dekoraator, kes enne Venemaale saabumist tegeles oma võika hobiga Inglismaal, kus ta oli tuntud Jack the Ripperi nime all.
Dekoraatori isiku paljastamine peaks karbi lahti võtma paljudel, Akunin valdab siin juba kriminaalkirjanduse žanri meisterlikult.
Anissi Tjul
Les Wilson
Of the two stories, I enjoyed "Jack of Spades" most. One can understand why he is one of the most popular writers in Russia.
Surprisingly more enjoyable than I thought it would have been. I think perhaps Erast Fandorin is the Russian version of Sherlock Holmes.

There are 2 mysteries in this one book: Special Assignments and The Decorator. In this book, we mainly follow Erast Fandorin by the view of his assistant, Anisii Tulipov (Sherlock's Watson but with his own characteristics).

*Crime was perpetrated
*Erast Fandorin was engaged as 'special' investigator
*Trap was laid & sprung
*Criminals caught
Andy Theyers
If you loved the four previous books you're not going to not read this one, but....

The two novellas in this volume are very different. The first - "The Jack of Spades" - is a little too similar to book 4 (The Death of Achilles); an enjoyable enough romp, but nothing too exciting.

The second is different indeed. A take on the Jack the Ripper story, "The Decorator" is a poorly plotted gorefest, with little to redeem it. I've read that Akunin is trying to write in as many different sub genres as he
So, this fifth Erast Fandorin book, is really two stories or further adventures. One about a swindler calling himself the Jack of Spades...that one was amusing and introduces the character Tulipov, and his imbecile sister. The second is a Jack the Ripper story, with the premise that Jack the Ripper went from London to Russia...Masa is still with us as is Tulipov....Jack is no less fiendish in Russia than he was in London, perhaps more. Erast is still very Erast like, a man of few words, dedicate ...more
This book packs quite a punch. It consists of two "mini-novels," which even though they are populated with many of the same characters, are entirely different in tone. The first part is quite light-hearted with a charming villain who winds up outfoxing Erast Fandorin in the end. You don't feel too bad about it, though. The second is a gory, disturbing slasher mystery, featuring the "real" Jack the Ripper. I can tell you that it ends badly, and that's an understatement. All and all -- another win ...more
Kay Robart
This book is two short stories featuring Erast Fandorin. The second story I did not finish once I grasped where it was going. Called “The Decorator,” it is about Jack the Ripper moving his operations to Moscow. However, it becomes quickly obvious that Jack is supposed to be not only a woman but one who is murdering prostitutes because they are defiling their bodies. The whole idea was so abhorrent to me that I refused to read any more of it.

See my complete review here:

The first novella in this twinset is definitely Akunin at his most fun. Its lightness, along with it's gleefully cheeky last page 'twist', is a stark contrast to the unusually (for Akunin) dark second story, full of mutilated corpses and commentary on the grimier and seedier places and people of the period. Once again as the deaths come closer to home for Fandorin and as events spiral into tragedy he has to make at least one dark moral choice which made the last few pages the most exciting and m ...more
Aug 09, 2008 Margaret rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of the mystery-detective genre, Russophiles, historians.
Recommended to Margaret by: My dad
Fandorin is my favorite crime-solving sleuth. If I met him, we would fall in love. I also enjoy the way Akunin winds his detective plots with 19th century political history. The Jack-the-Ripper-was-Russian hypothesis is very engaging. And the cast of idiosyncratic characters is just delightful. This novel won't answer life's questions, but it reliably entertains and frankly gave me the willies. Not to be read alone in the dark.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Real name - Grigory Shalvovich Chkhartishvili (see Grigory Chkhartishvili), born in Tbilisi, Georgia, in 1956. Since 1958 he lives in Moscow. Writer and translator from Japanease. Author of crime stories set in tsarist Russia. In 1998 he made his debut with novel Azazel (to English readers known as The Winter Queen), where he created Erast Pietrovich Fandorin.

B. Akunin refers to Mikhail Alexandr
More about Boris Akunin...
The Winter Queen (Erast Fandorin Mysteries, #1) Murder on the Leviathan (Erast Fandorin Mysteries, #3) The Turkish Gambit (Erast Fandorin Mysteries, #2) The Death of Achilles (Erast Fandorin Mysteries, #4) Статский советник (Erast Fandorin Mysteries, #6)

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