The Winter Queen Is Both Strange and Enticing
Boris Akunin’s The Winter Queen is a thrilling mystery set in 1876. From the very start of the book, readers are guaranteed to be engrossed in the evolving characters, setting, and story. Akunin’s clever writing style creates a potent atmosphere and transports readers back in time and into each scene. Akunin enables readers to become intimately familiar with the characters and involved with the decisions they make. As the plot unfolds, this well-written and engaging story provides entertainment along every step of the way.
The Scene Is Set
The Winter Queen hits the ground running as a wealthy young student asks a stranger for a kiss in a park in Moscow, gets rejected, and promptly commits suicide in front of a crowd of horrified bystanders. The police believe that it is probably just a sad accident resulting from the young aristocrat’s boredom with excess. They write it off as being a case unworthy of much attention and then hand it off to a junior detective at the station, Erast Fandorin. Just starting out on his way in life, the 20-year-old Fandorin is young, idealistic, and has high standards. Throughout the book, Akunin wonderfully illustrates Fandorin’s quirky characteristics. Just like every other character in the book, Fandorin evolves to a great extent and eventually leaves readers unsure of their own initial ideas about him.
A Clever Plot Develops
Fandorin, being a conscientious character, refuses to accept that the incident in the park was a cut-and-dry suicide and ambitiously sets off to solve the crime. One of the clues is the dead man’s will—he left a considerable fortune to an orphanage. The tale moves from Moscow to London with Fandorin refusing to be deterred by anything, not even getting thrown into the Thames. Without providing too much of a spoiler (because you should really read the book), the rest of the story involves several interesting twists and turns that keep readers on their toes every step of the way. Oh, and the ending is definitely a shocker.
What Makes The Winter Queen Worth Reading
Boris Akunin is one of those writers that make you want to read everything they write. He also has a talent for investing true literary ability into a popular genre that could have easily coasted through with sub-standard writing. Every chapter has a subtitle, like the first one, “in which an account is rendered of a certain cynical escapade.” This sets a slightly humorous tone, which is further developed as Fandorin is amusingly called “our hero.” The tongue-in-cheek style so typical of Akunin makes this a highly enjoyable book to read, but it is not only because the reading is entertaining. Rather, the story is elaborate and intricate, keeping the reader guessing the whole way. The Winter Queen is anything but a cheap mystery novel.