The Sister Pelagia series of mysteries is just as good as the Erast Fandorin ones. I like everything I've read by Boris Akunin. He's literary enough that you don't feel like your brain cells are leaking out as you read, but you cannot escape the fact that it's a series of detective novels. Imagine if Raymond Chandler and Chekov decided to collaborate on a series set in late 19th C. Russia. It sounds odd, but it works, I tell you. No, really! Try it, you'll like it!
Russian author Boris Akunin serves up a murder mystery in a small Russian town, a respected crime-solving bishop and his 'secret weapon,' the modest nun Sister Pelagia, a wealthy elderly lady who loves her dogs better than any humans, and a couple of headless corpses. It's well-written, has some unpredictable plotting, and is altogether a fun read. Just watch out for those Russian names...
Influenced by the old Russian writers, Akunin presents a sort of almost modern Russian Sister Fidelma
Would you believe . . . an eclesiastical Russian Miss Marple? Rather fun.
From back cover: In a remote Russian province in the late nineteenth century, Bishop Mitrofanii must deal with a family crisis. After learning that one of his great aunt's beloved and rare white bulldogs has been poisoned, the Orthodox bishop knows there is only one detective clever enough to investigate the murder: Sister Pelagia.
The bespectacled, freckled Pelagia is lively, curious, extraordinarily clumsy, and persistent. At the estate in question, she finds a whole host of suspects, any one of whom might have benefited if the old lady (who changes her will at whim) had expired of grief at the pooch's demise. There's Pyotr, the matron's grandson, a nihilist with a grudge who has fallen for the maid; Stepan, the penniless caretaker, who has sacrificed his youth to the care of the estate; Miss Wrigley, a mysterious Englishwoman who has recently been named sole heiress to the fortune; Poggio, an opportunistic and freeloading "artistic" photographer; and, most intriguingly, Naina, the old lady's granddaughter, a girl so beautiful she could drive any man to do almost anything.
As Pelagia bumbles and intuits her way to the heart of a mystery among people with faith only in greed and desire, she must bear in mind the words of Saint Paul: "Beware of dogs -- and beware of evil-doers."
Not my type. I didn't finish it.