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.