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I read this novel in Russian She Lover of Death is the eighth installment of Boris Akunin s most famous historical detective series each novel is set in late 19th early 20th century featuring the intrepid super sleuth Erast Fandorin As the 20th century unfolds, Moscow in 1900 is gripped by an epidemic of suicides by young people who belong to a secret club of Death s worshippers led by an all powerful Doge whose members receive signs telling them it is their turn to die Racing to stop the rash of suicides, Fandorin befriends one of the club members the She in the title as he becomes embroiled in a case of manipulation and deceit Akunin s reputation in Russian literature is as a detective fiction writer for intellectuals and this novel, like the others in the series, features intertextual references, most notably to Dostoevsky, and characters discussing weighty ideas such as the nature of power Also impressive is Akunin s depth of research, including into early 20th century forensic science and some highly inventive criminal methods True fans of detective fiction will want to start with the first novel in the series The Winter Queen as there are some plot elements that will be missed if reading out of order, but these novels can also be read as stand alone works She Lover of Death may not be Akunin at his best, but all of his novels are both intelligent and entertaining For anyone who loves Russian literature and or detective fiction, he is highly, highly recommended. In this the eighth installment of the Erast Fandorin series, the author changes his usual narrative style to tell this story via several different points of view A young girl s journal, newspapers, the reports of an undercover agent, and even poetry all come together to weave a somewhat bizarre tale of a suicide club in Moscow While suicide clubs are definitely not a new phenomenon in the rest of Europe, in Moscow they have been previously unheard of until now, at the dawn of the new century She Lover of Death tells the story of a young woman from the provinces and how she came to be mixed up in such a group It explores the burgeoning society of decadents arising around this time period, often delving into the influences of Russian poets such as Lermontov or Pushkin on sensitive psyches, especially those wondering about Russia s fate in this new century Of course, there s a mystery element to it as well, one involving our illustrious hero and his ever faithful servant Masa A young girl arrives in Moscow from Irkutsk, drawn there by a young man named Petya she had met previously while he had visited relatives in the provinces Marya Marinova nicknamed Masha had been truly captivated by this young man she called Harlequin, who cast a spell on her with the halo of fiery red curls scattering across his shoulder, his loose fitting blouse and intoxicating poems Masha, who saw life as an empty, stupid joke, was also captivated by Harlequin s comment about the only true beauty being in dying Upon her arrival in Moscow, she changes everything about herself, including her name, rechristening herself simply as Columbine When she catches up with Petya, he introduces her to a secret society of poets, brought together not only by their art, but with their fascination with death The group is called The Lovers of Death it is within the confines of this group that Death speaks through previous members now dead by their own hands via a medium to pick its next victim The chosen ones must wait for three signs of confirmation before making their way to their rendezvous with Death The head of this group is an strange character named Prospero, aka The Doge, and the club attracts the attention of a reporter who manages to infiltrate the group, unbeknownst to the others It also attracts the attention of a strange man with dark hair which is graying at the temples, a person the group knows only as Prince Genji But you guessed it Prince Genji is none other than Erast Fandorin, who believes that there is something sinister lurking under the surface The various points of view work well in this novel, making the reader work a little bit harder to suss out what s really going on here Since Akunin s regular readers are already quite familiar with Erast Petrovich by this time, the author mixes things up so that the reins of the story are given over to others actually involved in this odd tale, choosing to focus instead on accounts written by those smack in the middle of all of the action What you end up with instead of of a textured account of events that flesh out the rest of the story, rather than simply a linear mystery going from point a to point z While Columbine s character is representative of one of these new decadents appearing in Moscow society around this time, sometimes it s a bit over the top, while at other times you can t help but feel sorry for this poor naive and very impressionable girl fresh from the provinces There is a bit of a supernatural feel to this book at times, making for a bit of fun and chills to the spine here and there, but luckily this is limited and doesn t consume the entire plotline She Lover of Death is another trademark installment in the series it s a great deal of fun to read and it offers a realistic sense of place and time owing to the author s research and knowledge of the period And as usual, it exceeds the boundaries of the regular conventional mystery novel with its characters actions, especially those of the erstwhile Fandorin As I ve noted before, I don t really read these novels for their mystery component they re much adventurous than a standard mystery story And I can t help it I ve been a huge Fandorin fan since the publication in English of Akunin s first novel.I can definitely recommend She Lover of Death, both to followers of Akunin s Fandorin series, and to readers of historical crime fiction I m a stickler for following a series in publication order, and you could probably read this one without having read any of the earlier books On the other hand, you wouldn t have all of the necessary nuances of Fandorin s character that make this series so much fun under your belt.Overall, a fun read, one I had a great time with. took a little while to get used to his style of writing but gradually enjoyed the russian sherlock holmes in the case of a suicide club .
Each of Akunin s Fandorin books tackles a different genre She Lover of Death is both a coming of age story and a nineteenth century adventure detective novel inspired by Stevenson s The Suicide Club stories It s an engaging story, told from three different viewpoints, each by a character with a secret Because of the different narrators, we get to see Fandorin from several points of views although he is not always the focus of the narrative The character the book focuses on mainly is Masha Mironova, who goes by the name of Columbine, arriving in Moscow for a live of adventure She quickly ends up in the Lovers of Death , a secret club whose members all wish for suicide The charm of the book is it s characters, a wide ranging group of eccentrics from a revered female poet, excitable German twins, and a young female medium who seems to have genuine powers There is of course skulduggery going on and Fandorin also must infiltrate the club to solve the mystery. Best in the series so far Mosca, 1900 Masha Mironova lascia la nativa e provinciale Irkutsk per l antica capitale russa, complice l incontro con Petja, un giovane studente moscovita che ha risvegliato in lei il desiderio di una vita pi libera e decadente Col nome di Colombina e arie da boh mienne da due soldi, Masha ritrova un Petja diverso, ma che la introduce in un circolo esclusivo che porta il nome di Amanti della morte Gli amanti, capeggiati dal Doge Prospero, corteggiano la Morte scrivendo poesie in attesa del momento designato per togliersi la vita, almeno fino a quando quella che per il lettore si rivela una vecchia conoscenza non decide di mettere fine all attivit del circolo, rivelando ai suoi membri le pericolose macchinazioni di Prospero.Proprio come il romanzo parallelo He Lover of Death, per chi se lo fosse perso , She Lover of Death non uno dei romanzi migliori della serie dedicata a Fandorin, anche se nettamente superiore agli ultimi due tradotti fino ad ora Se da una parte interessante e ben riuscito l alternarsi di diversi stili e voci narranti, dall altra il libro viene pesantemente penalizzato da una protagonista insopportabile e mal riuscita e da una trama che, nonostante le premesse, stenta a decollare Nei miei precedenti commenti ai romanzi di Akunin ho sottolineato pi volte quanto la narrazione risenta dell assenza di un Fandorin pi protagonista, ma soprattutto di quanto i personaggi femminili siano il suo tallone d Achille Colombina non rientra, ahim , tra i pochi che salverei Come la maggior parte delle donne di Akunin, anche lei eccessivamente e insopportabilmente drammatica, convinta di essere speciale e all avanguardia e proiettata verso il sensazionale, quando, di fatto, semplicemente una provincialotta che si d delle arie per nascondere male la sua inettitudine Non che ci sia qualcosa di male nel ritrarre un personaggio femminile con queste caratteristiche, ma evidente che qualcosa non va se quasi tutte le donne che fanno capolino in questi romanzi ne salvo tre, quattro al massimo risultano irritanti e hanno pi o meno tutti i difetti sopra elencati senza voglia, da parte dell autore, di dare loro maggior spessore In Akunin non ho visto e continuo a non vedere nessun tipo di interesse nel regalare ai suoi lettori personaggi femminili a tutto tondo, perfetti nelle loro imperfezioni, e i cui difetti vengono apprezzati invece di causare noia e fastidio al lettore A Colombina, per lo meno, fa ammettere di essere lenta di comprendonio view spoiler e non diventa l ennesima fiamma di Fandorin, ma questo perch , come si scoprir leggendo He Lover of Death lui gi preso da Morte e si affeziona a Colombina perch boh, non lo so, sar la sua cavalleria che si attiva davanti a qualsiasi damsel in distress hide spoiler