I picked this book up in Waterstone’s as it looked rather intriguing. It’s one of a series of mysteries set in the late 19th centutry first published in Russia and now being translated into English. Apparently this is the third to be written but the second to be translated. Either way, it’s the first one I’ve seen. The series is centred around Erast Fandorin, who at this stage in his career is a diplomat. However, at first sight, the hero appears to be a French detective, Gustave Gauche, who is investigating a multiple murder and robbery. A clue leads Gauche to the maiden voyage of the luxury liner Leviathan, as the criminal has to be either a member of the crew or a passenger. The story is told from the viewpoints of several of the suspects, which adds to the interest and complexity of the plot.
As with any good (or even many bad) detective story, there are lots of red herrings, a nice dose of misdirection and the traditional confrontation of the suspects. Well, there’s a few of those, as it becomes clear that the masterful French detective appears to owe a little to Clouseau….
Whenever the words “detective” and “19th century” are mentioned, it’s inevitable that Sherlock Holmes will come to mind. Fandorin isn’t really much like Holmes, other than in the way he runs intellectual rings around the official representative of law and order, but he is worthy of further attention. I’ll be getting hold of the other Fandorin books as they appear.