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The Winter Queen (Erast Fandorin Mysteries #1)

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,736 Ratings  ·  544 Reviews
Moscow, May 1876. What would cause a talented student from a wealthy family to shoot himself in front of a promenading public? Decadence and boredom, it is presumed. But young sleuth Erast Fandorin is not satisfied with the conclusion that this death is an open-and-shut case, nor with the preliminary detective work the precinct has done–and for good reason: The bizarre and ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 25th 2004 by Phoenix Press (first published 1998)
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The Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoThe Alienist by Caleb CarrThe Historian by Elizabeth KostovaThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónMistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
Best Historical Mystery
83rd out of 1,304 books — 3,310 voters
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Favorite Historical Mystery Series
123rd out of 779 books — 878 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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I don't know if the charm of this novel translates well into English, but in its original (Russian) language this short historical mystery is delicious.

The Winter Queen (or as it was originally titled, Azazel) is the first book in a series of detective stories whose main character is Erast Fandorin. In this novel (set in 1870s Russia) Erast is a 20-year old wide-eyed youth who accidentally comes to investigate a strange case of public suicide. In spite of his naivete and innocence, Erast proves
Richard Derus
Dec 04, 2013 Richard Derus rated it really liked it
The Book Report: Young, orphaned Erast Fandorin has landed a comparatively cushy job for one whose comfortable future in czarist Russia was snatched away by the machinations of capitalists, beggaring and causing the suicide of his father: Erast is a fourteenth-class state functionary, serving a police official as amanuensis and errand-boy. It leads him into some odd alleyways, serving his about-to-retire master; his wit, his proficiency with language, his unquenchable curiosity lead his boss to ...more
Jan 09, 2014 Evgeny rated it liked it
This is the first book of a very popular Russian series which brought fame to its author Boris Akunin (real name Grigory Chkhartishvili). Boris Akunin considers mystery genre to consist of several sub-genres - his own classification; he wrote each book of the series in each sub-genre (conspiracy, spy, political, Agatha Christie-type, etc.) In the first book we are presented with a conspiracy mystery.

The main hero of the series is Erast Fandorin: a young man in 19th century Russian Empire; the fi
Boris Akunin is actually a pen name of Grigory Chkhartishvili (bless you), according to the "About the Author" section in the back. "Akunin" is Japanese for "villain", a rather fitting pen-surname for someone who is apparently legendary in Russia for his crime novels. The Winter Queen is one of three mysteries featuring the detective Erast Fandorin. I understand all three of them were made into big Russian blockbuster movies. I think I might like the better movie. I'm just sayin'. This particula ...more
May 23, 2012 Neil rated it it was amazing
Shelves: a-to-z-project
A to Z project, book 6
What a delightful mystery/adventure! Set in 1876 in Russia (and other parts of Europe) it follows an energetic but naive young man who has just begun a career as a minor functionary in the Moscow police. Erast Fandorin is something new (or perhaps something old made new again), a character who succeeds not through his abilities, although he is not without talents, but because fate seems to be on his side.

Akunin catches the tone of Victorian adventure very well. Plotwise, t
Nancy Oakes
Absolutely and totally fun novel, reminiscent of those old cliffhanger series things. I would recommend this book to readers who like what I would call "literary" mysteries, rather than the more fast-food type of reads (although, I must say, some of the ffrs (fast-food reads) are pretty good so I'm not slamming them -- I have read hundreds in my time). Anyway, this one demands a little more of your patience & time, but you will be rewarded in the long run.

brief plot review w/o spoilers

Set i
This is a brilliant book. The plot is clever and full of those "no way!" moments that I love in mysteries. I laughed out loud more than once - Fandorin is such a silly and unassuming hero, and his use of the "male corset" was absolutely divine. I did see a few things coming - but the writing was such fun to read, that it didn't spoil the book for me.

I appreciate it as a work of Russian literature (excellently translated) - of course, the ending was incredibly Russian (we can't have things be TOO
Sep 03, 2007 Jest rated it did not like it

I have no idea why this series is so popular. It fails as historical fiction. It fails as detective fiction. It fails in pretty much every way imaginable.

I did enjoy the part where the hero was saved by his own vanity in the shape of a 'Lord Byron' corset.
Dec 15, 2014 Wealhtheow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, mystery
In 19th century Russia, young Fandorin yearns to do exciting police work. When he finds clues that imply that a recent strange suicide was actually murder, he excitedly throws himself into the investigation. Along the way he comes to the attention of Bezhetskaya, a woman as coldly efficient as she is beautiful, Brilling, a detective with a brilliant analytical mind, and Zurov, a deadly marksman who lacks any ambition. The plot is a wonderful series of twists and turns, none of which I expected. ...more
Jul 15, 2007 Jill rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone liking a good suspense story with humor
Shelves: foreignmysteries
I discovered Boris Akunin last year and immediately fell into his prosaic style. His novels are full of humor and suspense and there are parts that made me laugh aloud. These books are a fun, riotous read that you don't want to put down until you've completed each and every one of them.
Nick Davies
May 04, 2016 Nick Davies rated it it was ok
For the first half of this book, I was of the opinion that this was an 'ok' crime thriller, but one (like a few others I have read) which felt a bit thin. Some historical crime thrillers feel to me a bit like once the well-researched chosen cultural and chronological aspects are stripped away, you're not left with much except a simple story dressed up in unusual words. This had some strange names and social ranks, and the story set up in a fairly likeable way, the first half was fairly enjoyable ...more
Jul 20, 2010 Christina rated it it was ok
Recommended to Christina by: Kelly
Shelves: fiction, 2010, kindle
This started out so well. A young man commits suicide in a park, right in front of a bench where a young lady and her chaperone are sitting. Young Erast Fandorin of the Criminal Investigation Department is eager to prove himself so he investigates the suicide and discovers that it was more of a suicide pact - or actually, a feud over a woman where two young men takes turn playing American roulette - and joking about how it will be re-named Russian roulette because of them.
So far, so good.
Our her
I don't think I am actually that big a fan of the detective himself in this book. He was a bit dense and immature.
What I did like was the era, the setting and the rest of the cast. I thought the author did a great job of making me feel like I was in 1876 Russia without being overly descriptive. I also thought the rest of the characters were quite interesting, the boss and the bad guys, the girl and her father, the femme fatale and the young men, all good.
The end was maybe a little over the top
Dec 24, 2012 Christie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ficiton
Up until about page 150 I was ready to give the book a solid 4 stars. I've dropped it down to 3 stars overall after finishing. IMO, the story got a bit disjointed and there was a suspension of belief that entered the storyline that hadn't been there prior. To me, again IMHO, the author tried to sum up and bring to a close a story that had grown a bit large and somewhat overreaching. It felt as if the wrap up was rushed and not all the pieces fit nicely for me at the end as they had up through pa ...more
This is the first book of the series Erast Fandorin Mysteries.

The plot is based on Erast Fandorin's investigation of the suicide of a wealthy student at Alexander Gardens in Moscow. He then discovers this a part of the "American Roulette" which was very well portrayed in the movie The Deer Hunter (1978) with Robert de Niro among others.

A quite promising historical mysteries series.
Feb 16, 2009 Carrie rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Eddie Hodges
Jun 08, 2009 Eddie Hodges rated it really liked it
This wasn't so much a mystery novel as it was a historical/spy novel, but it was still pretty good. Set in 19th century Russia it follows a government investigator; imagine James Bond if he were at the very beginning of his career and somewhat naive, investigating an odd suicide that eventually leads to something bigger and more sinister. The villains are reminiscent of the sort of bad guys James Bond comes up against and, as such , are a lot of fun. The books strongest point is its setting, Rus ...more
Mar 06, 2016 Nirit rated it it was amazing
ספר מתח מצויין. אמנם הגיבור נחלץ מספר מוגזם של פעמים ממקרי מוות, אבל העלילה לא הייתה מופרכת יתר על המידה, וזרמה היטב.
לזכותו של הסופר יאמר שלא טירחן יותר מדי כדי להציג בפני הקורא את התקופה ההיסטורית שבה מתרחש הספר (סוף המאה ה-19)
Mary Ellen
Jun 08, 2016 Mary Ellen rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries
This is the first of a series of mysteries - really, more thriller than mystery - set in late-19th century Russia and featuring a young civil servant working for the Moscow police department, Erast Fandorin.

Fandorin had to leave his university studies when his father died, leaving him with little. He becomes intrigued by the spectacular suicide of a young man in a public park and this leads him into an investigation of a web of conspiracies. When Brilling, a hot shot investigator from St. Peter
Ένας από τους αγαπημένους μου συγγραφείς. Το βιβλίο το διάβασα το 2010 για πρώτη φορά, στην αγγλική του έκδοση ως The winter queen και τώρα στην ελληνική του μετάφραση με τον πρωτότυπο τίτλο.

Ενώ λοιπόν το έχω ξαναδιαβάσει, συνεχίζει να με συναρπάζει. Θυμόμουν την λύση, οπότε δεν εξεπλάγην, αλλά είναι βέβαιο πως ο Boris Akunin δεν δίνει καμία υποψία της λύσης του θέματος. Ακόμα και στην τελευταία σελίδα είναι ανατρεπτικό. Υπέροχο!!!
Mar 27, 2015 Kristīne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tās beigas!!!!
Jun 17, 2011 Deanne rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Mystery readers
Picked this up the library, I've seen Akunin's books about but wanted to read them in order.
Really enjoyed this fairly quick paced books, Fandorin strikes me as the type of character who will grow in my affections. Tried reading out loud but I know my Russian pronunciation is probably terrible.
Joana Esteves
1ª tentativa de leitura: de 13 de Dezembro de 2015 a 6 de Janeiro de 2016 - 29 páginas lidas
Jan 18, 2015 Danuta rated it really liked it
Listened to "Azazel" (the original title of this book) read by Krzysztof Gosztyła, one of the best Polish audiobook narrators. Probably wouldn't reach for this book but got it as a gift. This detective story features a young police inspector, Erast Fandorin. His rather amusing adventures, especially due to his surviving skills (Tsarist Russia's prototype of MacGiver?) take place in the Russian Empire (and England) of the late 19th century and present interesting historical perspective, often ver ...more
Non sono esattamente quattro stelline piene perché qualche difettuccio qua e là c'è, ma non mi capita spesso di appassionarmi così a libri di autori contemporanei e ai personaggi usciti dalla loro penna, quindi ho voluto premiare questo primo libro dedicato ai casi di Fandorin arrotondando per eccesso.

The Winter Queen (il cui titolo originale è Azazel' e mi piace più della scelta di traduzione inglese e italiana, ma sorvoliamo) si apre nella Mosca del 1876, con un suicidio misterioso avvenuto in
Jul 16, 2015 Mahmood666 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
بوریس اکونین
رضا علیزاده
نشر نیلوفر
((هنگامی که ریچارد هَنِیْ ،تَن تَن را در مسکو ملاقات میکند))
اراست فاندورین مامور تازه کار بخش تحقیقات پلیس در همان روزهای ابتدای شروع کارش درگیر پرونده ای پیچیده میشود.جوانی در خیابان های مسکو،در مقابل عموم خودکشی کرده است و ثروتش را بنا به وصیت نامه اش به موسسه ای خیریه بخشیده است.از نگاه پلیس همه جیز طبیعی است اما از نگاه فاندورین جایی از این پرونده میلنگد .فاندورین زرنگ،خستگی ناپذیر،مفتون زنان زیبا،خوش تیپ ،خوش سخن و از همه بالاتر،خوش شانس در گیر پرونده
Rob Kitchin
Mar 08, 2015 Rob Kitchin rated it liked it
The Winter Queen is a historical conspiracy tale, following the exploits of a dashing young detective, Erast Fandorin, as he seeks to foil a dangerous plot in late nineteenth century Moscow. It’s billed on the cover as ‘Sherlock Holmes meets James Bond’, the tale is knowingly a little fanciful, focusing on the dastardly plans of a shadowy organisation. Whilst it’s got many of the essential ingredients for such a story, the only real mystery is how the detective could not fathom the conspiracy wh ...more
Rafal Jasinski
Jul 10, 2011 Rafal Jasinski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jestem kompletnie oczarowany, zarówno kwiecistym, stylizowanym na dziewiętnastowieczną narrację, nieco gawędziarskim stylem powieści Akunina, jak i misternie opracowaną intrygą.

Autor sprawnie przechodzi od wydarzenia do wydarzenia, zręcznie myli tropy, a ilością zwrotów akcji, które występują w "Azazelu" dałoby się obdzielić z dziesięć innych powieści kryminalnych. Prowadzący dochodzenie Fandorin, to postać na tyle sympatyczna, że zupełnie nie przeszkadzało mi jego nietuzinkowe szczęście, które
Gloria Mundi
How to create a quirky but brilliant sleuth extraordinaire: a recipe

• take about half of Prince Myshkin (Dostoyevsky's gentle, unassuming, naive and ever so slightly nutty all round good man)

• add a large dose of Pechorin (Lermontov's Byronic tortured hero)

• mix in a pinch of each of Colonel Nai-Turs (the honourable colonel from Bulgakov's White Guard who sacrifices himself to save his soldiers), Agent Cooper (of the Twin Peaks fame) and Andrei Bolkonsky (another prince, Tolstoy's this time, dis
Margo Brooks
Nov 18, 2011 Margo Brooks rated it really liked it
The Winter Queen, in which our naive hero accidentally unmasks an international terrorist organization single handedly.

This novel, set in Moscow during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, transforms an obscure, fresh-faced clerk, forced to work in the police because his father’s gambling debts made college out of reach, into a Russian hero with a vendetta. The reader clearly sees poor Erast Petrovich Fandorin’s mistakes as he stumbles through the story. We watch the “bad guys” watch him
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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

Erast Fandorin Mysteries (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • The Turkish Gambit (Erast Fandorin Mysteries, #2)
  • Murder on the Leviathan (Erast Fandorin Mysteries, #3)
  • The Death of Achilles (Erast Fandorin Mysteries, #4)
  • Special Assignments (Erast Fandorin Mysteries, #5)
  • Статский советник (Erast Fandorin Mysteries, #6)
  • Коронация, или Последний из романов (Erast Fandorin Mysteries, #7)
  • Любовница смерти (Erast Fandorin Mysteries, #8)
  • Любовник смерти (Erast Fandorin Mysteries, #9)
  • Алмазная колесница (Erast Fandorin Mysteries, #10)
  • Нефритовые четки (Erast Fandorin Mysteries, #11)

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“I pay my teachers very well, because pedagogy is the most important of all the sciences,” 2 likes
“I read somewhere that it’s called American roulette. It was invented in America, in the goldfields. You put a single shot in the cylinder, give it a twirl, and then—bang! If you’re lucky you break the bank; if not, then it’s good-bye” 1 likes
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