All the World’s A Stage

Written by Boris Akunin
Review by Chiara Prezzavento

In 1911 Moscow, renowned detective and self-described harmonious man Erast Fandorin expects to be involved in the investigation about minister Stolypin’s murder – and certainly not to find himself embroiled instead with the dubious goings-on of a theatre troupe. And yet, before he knows it, the poor man is in love with the leading lady, and even trying his hand at play-writing for her sake, while her estranged husband has promised to do away with any lover she is reckless enough to take. And indeed, men seem to die wherever the beautiful Eliza goes. Can Fandorin solve the growing amount of crimes without becoming a victim himself?

I had heard good things about Akunin’s Erast Fandorin series, but I cannot say I was entirely convinced. The writing is good, the characters colourful, and the depiction of the theatrical milieu spot-on—but the plot seems contrived, and Fandorin’s much vaunted power of deduction largely ineffective. Then again, the hero himself spends inordinate amounts of time bemoaning the numbing effects of love on his brain… On the whole, while a pleasant read, this instalment may not be the best access to the series.