Diverting entry in an ongoing series. Erast Fandorin is a charming, nineteenth-century Russian James Bond-if-he-was-fathered-by-Nero-Wolfe sleuth trapped on board a huge new luxury liner with a greedy, murderous genius who is after the world's greatest hoard of gemstones.
People die right and left as the sleuth, ineptly assisted by seemingly every passenger assigned to eat in his dining room, closes in on the inevitable identification of the killer/fortune hunter. Much entertaining diversion available, though the novice to the series can pick this volume up and start right here with no fear of missing a step. Akunin is a master of the enriching aside, the grace note that adds a little something to the series' fans' pleasure, but isn't required for the newcomer to understand to get the full impact of the story or the characters.
Erast Fandorin is once again investigating a murder. This time he is sailing on the Leviathan on its maiden voyage. The tale begins in Paris (1878) where ten people are murdered in a mansion. The only items missing are a valuable Indian statue, later found embedded in the mud, and an unusual scarf. A clue found at the scene suggests that the murderer will be traveling on the Leviathan. However, Fandorin must take second place to Police commissioner Papa Gauche from Paris. There are humorous scenes between the competing investigators. Even though the author suggests several suspects one early clue discloses who committed the murders to the reader early on. I enjoyed this read but not as muoh as The Winter Queen.
Not as compelling as *The Winter Queen* but nevertheless fun in a reprise of *Murder on the Orient Express.*
OK, but I found it a bit tiresome and with too many details about precious stones. Some of it was also a little unbelievable and coincidences abound.