The State Counsellor

Written by Boris Akunin
Review by Susan McDuffie

I am a Boris Akunin fan, and the latest in his Erast Fandorin series does not disappoint. Fandorin is a policeman working in late 19th-century Moscow, and as the title of this novel indicates, his successes have now raised him to the rank of State Counsellor. But as always his worst enemies are not the criminals he tracks down but his own corrupt superiors.

In this novel, Fandorin tackles the War on Terror, in this case the nihilist assassins who are trying to destroy the Tsarist regime. Much of the book is narrated from the point of view of the principal assassin who, like many of Akunin’s villains, gets rather sympathetic treatment. He is evil but we understand why.

Like all Akunin’s novels, this one is beautifully written; light entertainment with a satirical edge which is not irrelevant to present-day Russia.