The Coronation: A Fandorin Mystery

Written by Boris Akunin
Review by Susan McDuffie

1896: The Romanov imperial family and heads of state from around the world gather in Moscow for the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II. Among them are the Grand Duke Georgii Alexandrovich Romanov, two of his sons, and his daughter, Xenia. In Moscow bandits attempt to abduct Xenia; the plot is foiled by the unexpected appearance of Erast Petrovich Fandorin and his servant, Masa. However, four-year-old prince Mikhail vanishes, kidnapped by the nefarious Doctor Lind. The ransom demanded for Mikhail is the Orlov, a magnificent diamond adorning the imperial scepter. That demand cannot be met without scandalously compromising the coronation of the new tsar. Can Fandorin free the child and save the monarchy?

Akunin writes clever, fascinating mysteries, and this one holds true to form. Told from the viewpoint of Georgii Alexandrovich’s butler, the 46-year-old Afanasii Stepanovich, the tale provides an outsider’s view of Fandorin, and a refreshing glimpse into Stepanovich’s character as well. The detailed setting sparkles like a brilliant diamond, while the plot, full of unexpected twists, delights and intrigues until the final page. Highly recommended.