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The Winter Queen (Erast Fandorin Mysteries #1)

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  4,960 ratings  ·  430 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, 249 pages
Published March 9th 2004 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 1998)
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Community Reviews

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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...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
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
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...more
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
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...more
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...more
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...more
Jul 15, 2007 Jill rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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.

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.
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.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 20, 2010 Christina rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Christina by: Kelly
Shelves: kindle, 2010, fiction
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...more
Eddie Hodges
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
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
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!!!
Jun 17, 2011 Deanne rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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.
Rafal Jasinski
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...more
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...more
Margo Brooks
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...more
Susan Grigsby
Boris Akunin's prose doesn't tell you that The Winter Queen is set in 1876 Tsarist Russia, it takes you there. It slows you down to an era before telephones, when steel nibs were replacing goose quill pens; an era when the potential of electricity was being explored and advertisements for Lord Byron's whalebone corsets for men (AN INCH-THIN WAIST AND YARD-WIDE SHOULDERS!) appeared on the front page of the Moscow Gazette. The language itself becomes part of the story, keeping the reader delightfu...more
Akunin’s story begins like a parody of all those long-dead Russian masters, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, George Eliot. Too, I was comparing it to Peter Sellers in his role as Inspector Clouseau, in The Pink Panther. There’s shades of Sherlock Holmes w/the give and take of Erast and Ivan Franzevich. It doesn’t stop there though, as there are scenes reminiscent of Bond, James Bond, but Erast is not the lady-killer that Bond, James Bond is….Erast is a kind of….well, he’s his own man, an original, and thou...more
This book presents a captivating mystery set in 1870's czarist Russia. The plot follows the young policeman called Erast Fandorin as he is pulled into a global conspiracy following the seemingly unrelated suicide of a student in Moscow's Alexander Gardens. The success of his investigations could ultimate alter the fate of Europe and the world.

The beginning of the book immediately kicks of the plot as a student wanders through the Moscow Alexander Gardens. But in a sudden twist of events, he com...more
Also wie ich eigentlich auf dieses Buch gestoßen bin, kann ich beim besten Willen nicht mehr genau sagen. Eigentlich hatte ich es entdeckt, als ich für meine Mutter - eine passionierte Krimi-Leserin - neues 'Lesefutter' gesucht habe und dabei diesmal etwas ausgefallen Ungewöhnliches für sie zum Schmöckern auftreiben wollte. Und etwas ungewohnt kommt Boris Akunins Roman "Fandorin" schon daher, der eine ganze Serie mit eben demselben Detektiv begründen sollte...

Wir befinden uns im vorrevolutionär...more
Bev Hankins
Begining with a bang (literally), this story has lots of intrigue, suspense, beautiful women, suspects in high places, and secrets galore. Fandorin as an engaging main character and I enjoyed the author's writing style. It was very smooth and easily carries the reader along on Fandorin's adventures. Fandorin is absolutely entertaining in his interactions with Moscow's upper crust and the book is worth it for his adventures in Amalia's house. Amalia is a fine character in her own right. The myste...more
Oliver Iberien
The Winter Queen has an unreal quality. The Moscow and Saint Petersburg (and London) of the past are evoked with descriptive language so non-committal that the reader sees them almost in outline, as if the action were taking place before stylized two-dimensional scenery on otherwise empty sound stages. I imagined Moscow as looking like some kind of Russian Di Chirico painting, with nearly vacant cobbled streets and late-imperial architecture replacing the empty colonnades.

The characters are sim...more
Melissa Proffitt
I think I have a new favorite detective series; why, why do I have to wait for the translator? (Answer: Translators are hard-working people who have a difficult job, and Andrew Bromfield is excellent, but probably has a life outside producing new English-language editions for people like me.) Erast Fandorin is charming, so young and sweet and yet so dogged in his pursuit of the mystery behind why a young man would kill himself, in public, for no apparent reason. There are many twists in the tale...more
May 23, 2008 Heather rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Heather by: Molly
This is the first Erast Fandorin mystery written in Russian by Boris Akunin and translated into English by Andrew Bromfield. (Poor translators, they never get any credit.)

I enjoyed the characters and the flowery language--I attribute this as much to it having been written originally in Russian as to the plot being set in the 19th century, but I could be mistaken. Erast is young, sharp and enthusiastic. I saw a couple of plot points coming and was disappointed in the ending. This was not due to a...more
A historical mystery with a dash of humor, (view spoiler)Azazel (The Winter Queen) was an engrossing read. I started reading while on a bus, and really considered going an extra stop or two, just to keep reading. The translation was superb, I never for a second felt like I was reading translated work, and the plot ran smoothly for the most part.

As for Erast Fandorin, he was a strange mixture of naivet...more
Boris Akunin has a wry sense of humor that comes through even in translation. His naive young detective Fandorin blunders along, yet always seems to end up on his feet somehow. One character in the book tells him that he has a "halo", an aura which seems to mean he can do no wrong. Don't mistake me- Fandorin trusts all the wrong people, bulls his way through danger on instinct, and makes several bad mistakes. I like that the author isn't afraid to chronicle Fandorin's less noble instincts- he po...more
russell barnes
This book really reminds me of working at Telewest in 2005, mainly because I originally bought it in the British Heart Foundation in Woking. For some reason Woking seems to be completely full of second hand book shops - it's amazing, I got loads of books when I was there.

I really really loved this the first time around, but this time it felt a bit light. Fandorin is still a good character, I just remember it being meatier. This is possibly because I've read a stack of Sherlock Holmes since I fir...more
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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
More about Boris Akunin...
Murder on the Leviathan (Erast Fandorin Mysteries, #3) The Turkish Gambit (Erast Fandorin Mysteries, #2) The Death of Achilles (Erast Fandorin Mysteries, #4) Special Assignments (Erast Fandorin Mysteries, #5) Статский советник (Erast Fandorin Mysteries, #6)

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