The Gentle Axe
By: R.N. Morris
Just before Christmas, in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1866, police investigator Porfiry Petrovich faces his most challenging murder case since the events made famous by F. Dostoevsky in the novel Crime and Punishment-a case with disturbing parallels and even darker implications
Stumbling through Petvosky Park one cold morning in search of firewood, an elderly woman makes a horrifying discovery. A burly peasant twirls in the wind, hanging from a bowed tree by a rope about his neck, a bloody axe tucked into his belt. Nearby, packed neatly into a suitcase, is the body of a dwarf, a deep axe wound splitting his skull in two.
It does not take long for the noted police investigator Porfiry Petrovich, still drained from his work on the case involving the deranged student Raskolnikov, to suspect that the truth of the matter is more complex than the crime scene might suggest. Why do so many roads lead to the same house of prostitution and the same ring of pornographers? Why do so many powerful interests seem intent on blocking his efforts? His investigation leads him from the squalid tenements, brothels, and drinking dens of the city’s Haymarket district to an altogether more genteel stratum of society. As he gets deeper and deeper in, and the connections between the two spheres begin to multiply, both his anger and his terror mount.
I’ve read Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment years ago but the details are quite hazy to me now beyond the basic plot points (a sign that I need to re-read the novel sometime soon ^_~). I came across R.N. Morris’s works on GoodReads and thought it was interesting that he chose to write a mystery series featuring a character from Crime and Punishment. The Gentle Axe is the first novel in this series featuring Porfiry Petrovich and set in St. Petersburg.
The Silver Pigs
By: Lindsey Davis
When Marcus Didius Falco, a Roman “informer” who has a nose for trouble that’s sharper than most, encounters Sosia Camillina in the Forum, he senses immediately all is not right with the pretty girl. She confesses to him that she is fleeing for her life, and Falco makes the rash decision to rescue her–a decision he will come to regret. For Sosia bears a heavy burden: as heavy as a pile of stolen Imperial ingots, in fact. Matters just get more complicated when Falco meets Helena Justina, a Senator’s daughter who is connected to the very same traitors he has sworn to expose. Soon Falco finds himself swept from the perilous back alleys of Ancient Rome to the silver mines of distant Britain–and up against a cabal of traitors with blood on their hands and no compunction whatsoever to do away with a snooping plebe like Falco….
I decided to check out this book because my mum has one of the Falco books on her shelf, See Delphi and Die. The lead protagonist, Marcus Didius Falco, sounded intriguing but I wanted to see him from the very beginning so I decided to check out the first book in the series first before reading the volume on my mum’s shelf. I’m so glad I did, this book was a riot.
The Forgotten Garden
By: Kate Morton
A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book-a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-fi rst birthday, they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and very little to go on, “Nell” sets out to trace her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell’s death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled.
It’s funny because the reason I learned of this novel was because I kept seeing it at Costco whenever I go with my mum. Reading the premise for the first time, I wasn’t so sure about it. So I put it back down. The next time I was there, I saw it again, thought about it some more and the decided not to again. Third time was the charm because I started reading a few pages and decided it was interesting enough to follow through. And I’m glad I did read it because it was much more interesting than I initially thought and apparently a lot of people over at GoodReads, both on my flist and from looking at the reviews, gave it good reviews. Spoilers ahead!
The Cemetery of Secrets (also published as Lucifer’s Shadow)
By: David Hewson
In the ancient burial ground of San Michele on an island off Venice, a young woman’s casket is prised open, an object wrenched from her hands, and an extraordinary story begins.
Young academic Daniel Forster arrives in Venice working for the summer in the library of a private collector. When his employer sends him to buy a stolen violin from a petty thief, he ignites a chain of violence, deception, intrigue and murder. Daniel is drawn into the police investigation surrounding a beautiful woman, a mysterious palazzo and a lost musical masterpiece dating back to 1733.
Separated by centuries, two tales of passion, betrayal and danger collide transporting the reader from the intrigue of Vivaldi’s Venice to the gritty world of a modern detective. From the genius of prodigy to the greed of a killer, The Cemetery of Secrets builds to a shattering crescendo – and one last, breathtaking surprise.
So the premise of the story was pretty interesting (Venice, Italy + musical instrument from centuries ago + mystery = what’s not to be intrigued about?), which is why I picked it up. I had read another book by David Hewson before (The Garden of Evil, part of his Nic Costa series), which was also set in Italy; I was actually surprised that he had written a standalone novel as I though the only had the Nic Costa series.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted here…the following posts I’m making are long overdue, lol.
The Gun Seller
By: Hugh Laurie
Everyone knows Hugh Laurie from shows like House MD and Jeeves and Wooster, he’s a talented muscian who can play a number of instruments and he’s a writer. The Gun Seller is his first novel (the second one, The Paper Soldier, coming out either late this year or next year), following a man named Thomas Lang, a hired man who gets caught up in international intrigues, double dealings and conspiracies of all sorts. But like Thomas (and the back of the book) says, he’s really a nice guy: he’s just caught up in the plot. It’s everything you need in a spy novel/thriller: a series of unique characters, some of whom you don’t know where their allegiances truly lie, a few “close call” cases, a few chases, mysterious meetings in obscure places, a number of revelations and a main character who’s got attitude and a mouth. Thomas is a wise guy, which makes the plot even more entertaining. What was particularly interesting about this novel is the way Hugh Laurie crafted the dialogue; it’s like you’re having a conversation with Thomas Lang. Thomas Lang himself has a very interesting way of observing what’s going on around him and the analogies he draws in relation are purely hilarious, which reflects just what a talented man Hugh Laurie is. The humour is quirky and witty and the pace never slows down in the book, which is great. I definitely recommend this book if you’re into the spy genre with a twist.
For more information about Hugh Laurie, check out HughLaurie.net || Order the book from the Book Depository