A Razor Wrapped in Silk
St Petersburg 1870. The Tsar has instituted reforms which for many go too far, while for others not nearly far enough. Against this background of political upheaval, a child factory worker is mysteriously abducted – a crime barely noticed by the authorities. However, when a society beauty with powerful friends is sensationally murdered, investigating magistrate Porfiry Petrovich finds that both crimes may have a political – not to say revolutionary – aspect. A trail of missing children leads to a shocking discovery that takes Porfiry inside the Winter Palace for a confrontation with the Tsar himself.
This is the third in the series featuring Porfiry Petrovitch, the character created by Fyodor Dostoevsky in Crime and Punishment. The streets of St Petersburg are vividly portrayed as the author shows the imperial Russian capital on the brink of upheaval, contrasting the squalor of industrial Russia against the richness of the aristocratic ruling class. This is the first time I have met Porfiry Petrovich, who is a brilliant, and yet pedantic, investigator as he struggles to uncover the truth in the face of political and personal obfuscation. It took me a while to warm to him, but it was worth it. If you like historical crime novels, you will enjoy this. Although not a huge fan of the genre, I may well find myself wandering the streets of St Petersburg again.