Jan 31, Richard Derus rated it really liked it The Publisher Says: Moscow, May What would cause a talented young student from a wealthy family to shoot himself in front of a promenading public in the Alexander Gardens? Decadence and boredom, most likely, is what the commander of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Moscow Police thinks, but still he finds it curious enough to send the newest member of the division, Erast Fandorin, a young man of irresistible charm, to the Alexander Gardens precinct for more information. Fandorin The Publisher Says: Moscow, May What would cause a talented young student from a wealthy family to shoot himself in front of a promenading public in the Alexander Gardens? Fandorin is not satisfied with the conclusion that this is an open-and-shut case, nor with the preliminary detective work the precinct has done—and for good reason: The bizarre and tragic suicide is soon connected to a clear case of murder, witnessed firsthand by Fandorin.
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Plot summary[ edit ] The novel opens on 13 May with a university student, Pyotr Kokorin, committing suicide in the public park in front of a beautiful young noblewoman, Elizaveta von Evert-Kolokoltseva.
His will leaves his large fortune to the newly opened Moscow chapter of Astair House, an international network of schools for orphan boys founded by an English noblewoman, Lady Astair. The apparently open-and-shut suicide case falls to inexperienced year-old detective Erast Fandorin.
He interviews Elizaveta, and immediately falls in love with her. Further investigation reveals that Kokorin was playing Russian roulette called "American roulette" in the novel with another university student, Akhtyrtsev. He follows Bezhetskaya to her home, where she spends her time toying with the many men who come to visit. As he kills Akhtyrtsev, the white-eyed man hisses one word: "Azazel".
The murder of Akhtyrtsev brings a great deal of attention to what had seemed a routine case. Fandorin gets a new boss, Ivan Brilling, a sophisticated detective familiar with modern investigative techniques. Brilling believes that the murder is the work of a terrorist organization called "Azazel" that is operating in Moscow.
Lady Astair is helpful to Fandorin, who leaves her school convinced of her innocence and impressed by her charitable mission. Next, Fandorin investigates Count Zurov. After Fandorin beats Zurov at cards, the count challenges him to a duel, but it turns out to be a practical joke on Fandorin, and the count befriends him.
Zurov, believing Fandorin to be as much in love with Amalia as he is, and wishing that Fandorin will win her heart so that Zurov can let her go, reveals to Fandorin that she is staying at the Winter Queen Hotel in London. Fandorin journeys to London, where he tracks down Bezhetskaya to a house in town. He sneaks into her room after she leaves it and finds a paper that appears to be a list of Azazel members all over the world, many of whom hold high ranks in government or the military.
Fandorin is about to leave when Bezhetskaya catches him in her room. They struggle, a shot goes off in the dark, and Fandorin flees, believing that he has killed Amalia. He has not, however, because Amalia and her henchmen kidnap Fandorin from his hotel room. Zurov admits to Fandorin that jealousy over Amalia led him to follow Fandorin to London. Fandorin assures Zurov that he is no rival for Amalia, and Zurov leaves to either kill her or "take her away somewhere".
Meanwhile, Fandorin hurriedly leaves for St. Petersburg to intercept the letter that Amalia has mailed to her Azazel contact there. He succeeds, and sees the letter delivered to Gerald Cunningham, a teacher at the Moscow Astair House. Fandorin reports this to Brilling, and they go together to arrest Cunningham—but Brilling shoots Cunningham dead, and reveals to Fandorin that he is also an agent of Azazel. Fandorin and Brilling struggle, and Brilling is killed.
Fandorin travels back to Moscow to continue the investigation. While on the way, he meets Elizaveta on the train, and finds out that she is as smitten by him as he is by her.
While talking to Lady Astair, Fandorin suddenly realizes that Cunningham was too young to have started Azazel, and that Lady Astair is the real criminal mastermind.
Lady Astair confesses to Fandorin, admitting that she is the head of Azazel. She tells him that her Astair Houses are part of a plot to train bright young orphan boys to serve her and her group, which plans to eventually take over the world.
She then tells one of her servants, the German professor Blank, to give Fandorin a lobotomy so that they may retrain him as a member of Azazel, but Fandorin escapes and confronts Lady Astair, who is waiting for him with a bomb. Lady Astair traps him with her, but after Fandorin begs for his life, she lets him go in return for a promise to not hunt down her "children" from the Astair Houses. Lady Astair then appears to commit suicide with her bomb. Fandorin, however, is ordered to help the campaign to root out members of Azazel in Russia, which he does.
His guilt at breaking his promise mars his happiness on the day of his wedding to Elizaveta. After the newly married couple retreat to their hotel suite, a messenger brings Fandorin a package. Fandorin walks to the window and sees the messenger frantically running into a carriage driven by the white-eyed assassin that earlier tried to kill Fandorin.
Fandorin jumps out his window in an attempt to arrest the killer, and thus escapes the bomb, which blows up and kills his young bride. Genesis, reception, and adaptations[ edit ] Fandorin series[ edit ] Boris Akunin is the pen name of Grigory Chkartishvili, a Russian writer and academic who also worked as a translator of Japanese literature into Russian.
Chkartishvili conceived of a series of detective novels demonstrating each of the genres of detective fiction, of which Chkartishvili found Thus the Erast Fandorin series is planned to run through 16 books. Fourteen books have been already published in Russia; The Winter Queen is the first of five that have been translated into English. Azazel was not an immediate success when it was published in ,  selling only six thousand copies. However, the fifth novel in the Fandorin series, Special Assignments , became a best-seller, as did all the other Fandorin novels thereafter.
Azazel has sold fifteen million copies in Russia and many more all over the world. Film adaptations[ edit ] Azazel was filmed for Russian television in Ilya Noskov starred as Fandorin, and Akunin adapted his own novel into a screenplay. The screenplay is written by Gerard Soeteman , with whom Verhoeven made several films in the past. On May 22, a spokesperson of Paul Verhoeven announced that the shooting was postponed and would start in
The Winter Queen
Reading Guide Book Summary In this thrilling mystery that brings nineteenth-century Russia to vivid life, Akunin has created one of the most eagerly anticipated novels in years. Moscow, May What would cause a talented young student from a wealthy family to shoot himself in front of a promenading public in the Alexander Gardens? Decadence and boredom, most likely, is what the commander of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Moscow Police thinks, but still he finds it curious enough to send the newest member of the division, Erast Fandorin, a young man of irresistible charm, to the Alexander Gardens precinct for more information. There are many unresolved questions. Why, for instance, have both victims left their fortunes to an orphanage run by the English Lady Astair?
An English remake of The Winter Queen was in production. It was set to start filming in , but the leading actress, Milla Jovovich , became pregnant, and the production process was delayed to unknown date. List of works[ edit ] Erast Fandorin series publication dates in parentheses. Each historical mystery novel is assigned its own subgenre of detective fiction conspiracy, political, etc. A conspiracy mystery.
Boris Akunin - The Winter Queen