Murder on the Leviathan : Erast Fandorin 3, Paperback Book

Murder on the Leviathan : Erast Fandorin 3 Paperback

3.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


The second Erast Fandorin mystery from Boris Akunin, shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger.'Akunin is an outstanding novelist...Fandorin is a beautifully drawn character who more than lives up to comparisons with Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes...The characters are delightful and you can imagine them in a Woody Allen version of an Agatha Christie novel...Akunin's work is gloriously tongue-in-cheek but seriously edge-of-your-seat at the same time' Daily ExpressOn 15th March 1878 Lord Littleby, an English eccentric and collector, is found murdered in his Paris house together with nine members of his staff.

A gold whale in the victim's hand leads Erast Fandorin to board the Leviathan, the world's largest steamship, as the murderer is one of the 142 first class passengers.

Commissioner Gauche of the French police has narrowed down the suspects to ten, and they are forced to eat together at every meal time in the ship's Windsor Suite until 'the Crime of the Century' is solved.

But is the murderer really at the table, and can Erast Fandorin discover his or her identity before Gauche?

As more passengers are murdered and the Leviathan heads towards Calcutta, Fandorin needs all his investigative skills to find the truth.


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Review by

Superbly enjoyable second whodunnit from Boris Akunin, in the style of Agatha Christie. Ten suspects kept on a boat by a bumbling detective, and only the esteemed Ernst Fandorian to sort out the truth from the lies. Addictive.

Review by

The second Erast Fandorin mystery. Told as an Agatha Christie-style whodunit - think 'Murder on the Orient Express' - the wonderfully enigmatic Fandorin takes a secondary role in this story. Following on from the shocking epilogue in 'The Winter Queen', the Russian detective is much changed, from the grey in his hair to the stammer in his speech. Suspicion falls on him as he is corralled into a murder investigation that has taken to the seas. French inspector Gauche (wonderful names abound) has narrowed down his list of suspects to a group of passengers travelling aboard the maiden voyage of the proto-Titantic liner 'Leviathan' to India, and means to find out exactly who killed a rich Englishman and his staff in Paris. The mystery was thoroughly twisted and almost impossible, though the real joy of these stories is not solving the puzzle, but watching Fandorin at work (the true mark of a good detective series). The cast of suspects includes a French femme fatale, a Japanese doctor, an English old maid (who throws herself at Fandorin!), and a batty baronet. All were sketched well, but none really came to life - including Fandorin, who is viewed by the other characters throughout.The comedy and skill of the writing more than sustained this short mystery, however - the era evinced is more roaring twenties than late nineteenth century, but bar a couple of anachronisms ('claustrophobia' and 'psychopath'), the dialogue worked with the historical setting of the series. (And Fandorin precedes the baronet's name with his title when introducing him, when he should have used 'Sir', but that could be in the translation or just a nitpick!)A fun read, and I can't wait to read more of the series!

Review by

Murder on the Leviathan by Boris Akunin is a murder mystery similar to Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. The sleuth, in this case, is the Russian diplomat Erast Fandorin and much of the mystery solving takes place aboard a luxury ocean liner in the year 1878. Following the murder of ten people in a Paris mansion, the Paris police determine that the murderer will be sailing on the inaugural cruise of the Leviathan to the Far East. The most notable characteristics of this historical mystery are the author’s attention to both period details and attitudes, which are nicely depicted throughout the story, and his creation of interesting and diverse potential murderers. The settings offer readers a taste of the exotic and a hint of adventure. This novel has everything that should have made it a page turner, but never was, at least for me. Curiously, I struggled to complete the book forcing myself to pick it up and read, never a good sign. The plot moved slowly and the twists and turns were not as interesting as required to keep me turning the pages. The main character, Fandorin, was not greatly interesting and I struggled to figure him out. On one page, more than two thirds through the book, Fandorin reveals some mystery about his past which intrigued me, heightening my interest for several pages, but this soon fizzled out. True, this book is part of a series and I have not read the earlier installment, The Winter Queen, which may have improved my interest in Fandorin. The author casts two men in the role of sleuth, one who is always following the most obvious, but incorrect path to the guilty party, while Fandorin saves the day and puts all to rights. This novel was not badly written or developed, but did not capture my attention as I hoped it would. Murder on the Leviathan was translated from Russian by Andrew Bromfield. I have rated it 2 ½ stars in my rating system in which 2 stars is “not my cup of tea” and 3 stars is “enjoyable”.

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