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Sister Pelagia and the Red Cockerel: A Novel (Sister Pelagia Mysteries #3)

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  736 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
The ship carrying the devout to Jerusalem has run into rough waters. Onboard is Manuila, controversial leader of the “Foundlings,” a sect that worships him as the Messiah. But soon the polarizing leader is no longer a passenger or a prophet but a corpse, beaten to death by someone almost supernaturally strong. But not everything is as it seems, and someone else sailing has ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published August 11th 2009 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2000)
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This book reminds me somewhat of a mayonnaise gone slightly wrong. It has all the required ingredients, many of which are of the highest quality, but their proportions, the way in which they have been added and the sequence of their incorporation and direction of 'stir' are not the best and the result lacks smoothness and satisfaction. If I were to rate this book on the basis of its last 2-3 chapters I would give it 5*****. They are striking in their intensity, imagination, profundity and audac
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 27, 2010 Kris rated it did not like it
Shelves: mystery, fiction
Religious mysteries seem to be in vogue, but this was just stupid. I've never heard of "special caves" or their relationship to red roosters before, maybe it's a russian thing or completely from the author's imagination, but that plot point was so out-there it ruined the story for me. The strange town and castle with the psychotic russian nobleman were hardly believable, but the super-assassin and the graphic details of his kills were stomach-churning and ultimately unresolved. This is supposed ...more
Jun 22, 2015 Joe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ive long been a fan of the Fandorin books. The red rooster was the first Pelagia book ive read. it started off OK, I enjoyed the descriptions of all the strange groups on the ship and the inevitable murder, and the subsequent quests by various characters to determine the nature of the killer, but I thought it descended into a strange sort of mysticism. The red rooster seemed to be a sort of analogy for the red heifer - the harbinger of the messianic age for really orthodox Jews, when they will b ...more
Apr 20, 2013 Agnes rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
OK, I struggled through this one trying to decipher what was going on due to the various characters (all in love with the nun) and their investigations....should not have bothered since the ending was so sacrilegious for reasons nothing to do with the nun.
Jan 26, 2011 Lucy rated it really liked it
Have rooster, will travel.
In this book, Sister Pelagia is asked to solve yet another strange murder. She leaves the monastery where she is a teacher intending to find the murderer of a man named Manuila, a charismatic Russian preacher. Is the murdered individual the preacher who established a sect of Russians whose goal is to live like Jews and travel to the Holy Land or is he not? When she discovers that the murdered man is a member of the group disguised as Manuila, she is determined to find the real Manuila. Obviously ...more
Jim Leffert
Oct 25, 2009 Jim Leffert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Boris Akunin (the pseudonym of Georgian writer Grigory Chkhartishvili) has written 11 detective novels, taking place in the 19th century, which feature Russian secret agent and detective Erast Fandourin. Five of these novels have appeared in English. The present book is the third volume in a more recent series that takes place in the waning years of the Russian Empire—around 1910—and that feature an inquisitive and adventurous nun, Sister Pelagia, as the hero.

Having missed the first two install
Aug 23, 2012 Kris rated it really liked it
On the surface, this book, part of a series by Akunin, is a mystery - a murder is committed, and the nun Sister Pelagia goes against her promises to her superiors to investigate. But the book is so much more than your typical mystery - it includes commentary by the author on Russian history, Orthodoxy, and religion in general. My only complaint is that, because of some of these off-shoots into commentary, one tends to have difficulty remembering the basic mystery's plot, characters, and clues.
Melissa McShane
Feb 14, 2013 Melissa McShane rated it really liked it
I'm not sure what I think about this book. On the one hand, Akunin is a master storyteller, and he keeps the tension high, alternating Pelagia's account of her journey through Russia and Palestine with that of the merciless killer stalking her. On the other, this mystery is very different from those of the first two books, and I'm not sure that's a good thing. Pelagia is chasing a holy fool, a strange mystic with the power to read people's characters and change their behavior with a word. She's ...more
PELAGIA & THE RED ROOSTER is the third book (and I believe the last) in this series by Russian author Grigory Chkhartishvili aka Boris Akunin. Readers may be more aware of the six Erast Fandorin novels, which I understand have sold over 18 million copies in Russia alone.

This is the first of the Pelagia novels I've read, having had the pleasure of a few of the Fandorin novels before, and I was reminded again of the absolute feeling of 19th and, in this case, 20th Century Russian sensibility
Oct 07, 2009 Colleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: whodunnit
I don't know if I'd necessarily have someone start with Pelagia or recommend this series to friends. I think you'd have to be crazy not to like the Erast Fandorin books, but Pelagia is...different.

One of the recurring troubles for Pelagia in this book made me think of a parallel to myself as well. The first impression she gives off to people is a rather ungainly, overly curious, red-headed unnattractive nun, but then a few days in her company and they're madly in love.

So this happened to me too
Apr 26, 2013 M M rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Boris Akunin's last of his Pelagia trilogy - Pelagia and the Red Rooster - is out. I haven't taken to this intrepid nun as much as to Erast Fandorin, Akunin's other great hero. But Akunin's declared that he is done with this series, and its ending is more bitter than sweet, for Pelagia, with her red hair and freckled face, her keen mind and impetuous enthusiasm, is a sympathetic character, and perhaps I have developed an affection for her. This book is more serious and polemic than Akunin's othe ...more
Nov 19, 2015 Caitlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stories
Not as satisfying as the previous two Pelagia books - we didn't get as much Pelagia-time as usual and with so very many locations and characters and jumping about between them, I felt the narrative was a little less coherent. Also the important role of mystical occurrences may be offputting for some. But overall I enjoyed it. The plot is very large in scope and encompasses some groups & concepts that I found very interesting. But if you're new to Pelagia, definitely don't start with this one ...more
Jul 23, 2011 Malcolm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Akunin's previous Pelagia novels have seemed a little Miss Marple, but in this he gets much more politically contentious and contemporary, and there are considerably more corpses than in either of the previous titles. Like all detective novels this is at heart conservative (the solution of the 'crime' means that order and stability are restored) except in this case we are not entirely sure what the result is: the conspirators remain concealed, Pelagia seems to have disappeared, central character ...more
Helen Farrell
Jan 18, 2013 Helen Farrell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an extraordinary book, with almost Dickensian characters. I haven't read the first two in this series, but certainly would like to. I wish I had more knowledge of Russian history, because this book, set just into the 20th century, refers to many religious developments in Russia that I simply had not been aware of. There are so many obscure religious groups and sects referred to, all of which help make up a massive beautiful patchwork of belief and experience. Even in translation, the pro ...more
Feb 07, 2015 Anam rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I waited a long time to read this book. I loved the other two and didn't want the series to end - so procrastinated, thinking I'd always have a great book to look forward to.

This one failed miserably.

Too many characters, too much supernatural, some bordering on heresy. At the beginning of the book, I had hopes for a different end - one that would have meant there would be no more Sister Pelagia, but a happy ending regardless.

I don't know if Sister Pelagia will return, but at this point, I reall
Jan 26, 2014 Teele rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ma pole küll teisi Pelagia raamatuid lugenud, kuid see, seeria viimane osa, jättis sügava mulje. Tegu polnud klassikalise ja lihtsakoelise kriminaalromaaniga - mulle jäi mulje, et teised raamatud pigem on -, ja see võib kahetisi tundeid tekitada. Müstilised sündmused on aga esitatud omapärasel, pragmaatilisel kombel, mis mulle sümpatiseeris. Institutsionaalne religioon sai jällegi hillitsetut, kuid halastamatut kriitikat, ühtlasi leidsin raamatust enda jaoks täiesti vastuvõetavaa kristluse tõlge ...more
Miss Karen Jean Martinson
Whoa. A very strange Pelagia, but I liked it. Odd synchronicity as well, as we just saw the R. Crumb illustration of the Book of Genesis at the Hammer.

I'm still mulling over the ending, which I see as a departure from the previous Pelagia books. A nod to wonder and faith as opposed to rationalism.

SORT OF SPOILER: This seemed like the most gruesome of the Pelagias - much higher death count than most - and I was struck by how few of these murders Pelagia actually knew about. Almost all of them ha
Jun 22, 2015 Roosi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, 2015, russian
Imeliselt kaasakiskuv.
Idamaised imed.

Mida veel ühelt raamatult tahta..
Catherine Woodman
The book is VERY Russian, which I would see as a plus, but the allegorical qualities morph into a full blown hallucinatory armageddon at the end, which seemd over the top, even for a Russina, especially in the genre of murder mystery--which is really not what this book is--like there is no murder that the book is centered on finding a solution to--which seems like the minimum criteria for a murder mystery. The writing is very Russian and nice to read in that respect. Nun gets lost in cave is tol ...more
Deb Oestreicher
A stunning close to Akunin's Sister Pelagia trilogy, in which Akunin continues his shameless borrowing from Russian masterpieces like Anna Karenina and The Grand Inquisitor (and likely other places I'm not learned enough to catch) and transforms his mainly realistic historical detective series into something frankly fantastic (or at least mystical). The only drawback is that this is definitely the last of Sister Pelagia... I still anticipate further translations Akunin's Fandorin novels, though- ...more
Ingrid Moisil
In my opinion, the Sister Pelagia series isn't as good as the Erast Fandorin one, but the first two books were quite enjoyable. This third volume is the worst novel by Akunin I've ever read. It looks as if the author had to write a minimum number of words in order to get paid, so he wrote, and wrote, and rambled, and why would I care finishing this book?
Nov 07, 2013 Reesie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this series. I found them to be informative & interesting. However, the ending of this last book was a major letdown for me. There was a lot going on in this book, great insights into politics, culture, spiritual/religious debates, but the ending did not live up to the bar set by the rest of the story. For the last book of a series it felt very unfinished. I would still recommend this series. The characters are very interesting. They are beautifully written & are thought ...more
Jun 23, 2013 Mark rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 27, 2014 Dan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
it got tiring with the protagonist getting into one scrape after another. I much prefer his Erast Fandorin series.
May 16, 2009 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In my opinion, this is the best of the Pelagia series by Akunin. In general, I like this series less than Akunun's other projects, but it is decent. This book is completely ridiculous, with a plot like something out of the Da Vinci Code.
SPOILER ALERT: Christ has traveled in time to late 19th Russia via a magical cave. Now he is a prophet, wandering the world, seeking to return to Jerusalem and be crucified as intended.
Kasia James
Aug 27, 2014 Kasia James rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
What an odd-ball book this is. Very very Russian.
If you can manage the long patronymics, then it is a curiously edgy tale, flirting with religion, cults and gay freedom, all told from the eyes of a very vivacious nun.
There are supernatural elements which will leave you guessing, and perhaps a little baffled. A very interesting read, unlike most of the other books you will stumble across this year.
Jelena Cvetković
The book has blown me away, really swept me off my feet.
It was bold of the writer to explore the subject the way he did, but I think he did it wonderfully.

I see this book as his answer to The Da Vinci Code, and, though I like 'Code', I think I love 'The Red Rooster'.
Feb 28, 2012 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I would like to read everything that Boris Akunin writes. This is not a cut to the chase mystery/thriller. It's a peramulation through history, literature, religion, psychology through the lens of an original cast of characters. You can get other Sister Pelagia "myteries" , including Sister Pelagia and the White Bulldog and Sister Pelagia and the Black Monk, in e-book form. Do so!
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Sister Pelagia Mysteries (3 books)
  • Sister Pelagia and the White Bulldog (Sister Pelagia Mysteries, #1)
  • Pelagia and the Black Monk (Sister Pelagia Mysteries, #2)

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“Yakov Mikhailovich, as we have already said, believed fervently in the power of the human intellect. There are no insoluble problems, only incompetent problem solvers.” 1 likes
“Remember what it says in Matthew: And false prophets shall abound, and they shall deceive many’” “And from the multiplication of lawlessness, love shall grow cold in many,” said Pelagia, continuing the apostolic citation. Dolinin started and gave the nun a strange look, as if he had just heard those words for the first time, or perhaps had never really thought about their meaning before.” 0 likes
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