cover image Special Assignments: The Further Adventures of Erast Fandorin

Special Assignments: The Further Adventures of Erast Fandorin

Boris Akunin, . . Random, $13.95 (335pp) ISBN 978-0-8129-7860-5

In this thrilling collection of two novellas, Akunin (The Winter Queen ) pits Erast Fandorin, his brilliant Russian detective who serves as the deputy for special assignments to the governor-general of czarist Moscow, against two different but equally deadly foes. In the comical “The Jack of Spades,” Fandorin finds a Watsonian sidekick in Anisii Tulipov, a luckless and overeducated errand boy whose life changes when Fandorin takes him under his wing. The pair must face a cunning con man and thief, reminiscent of the great French antihero, Arsène Lupin. Things take a darker turn in “The Decorator,” when Fandorin fears that Jack the Ripper is continuing his slaughter of prostitutes, this time in 1889 Russia. Clever writing and tight plotting, coupled with a willingness to shock readers by sacrificing significant characters, continue to cement Akunin's reputation as one of the finest contemporary authors of classic crime fiction. (Feb.)