I don’t know what it is about historical mysteries that I find to be so much more entertaining than mysteries set in modern times. Perhaps it has something to do with how quickly modern suspense and mystery novels date themselves. A masterpiece of suspense written and set in 2002 feels so very last decade while a mystery set in 1902, like a fly caught in antediluvian amber, gives you a snapshot of the time- a time that is very much separated from what we know of our own world.
And so, after seeing a recommendation for Boris Akunin‘s novel The Winter Queen on the Facebook feed of one of my favorite mystery writers, I decided to give it a shot. I’m not terribly familiar with Russian history (not so much of a Tolstoy fan, am I), so most everything about the setting was fresh, the plot twists unexpected, and I didn’t spend any of the novel wondering if some famous historical figure was going to make a cameo. That, plus the clever chapter titles (“Chapter Eight, in which the jack of spades turns up most inopportunely”, for example). I think I’ve found my next historical mystery series to tide me over until the next Barker and Llewllyn title (written by Will Thomas) comes out early next year.
Also, I finished The Tiger’s Wife, which ended unexpectedly in that the stories didn’t wind together the way I thought they would. And that is perfectly fine. I don’t expect an author to end a his/her story the way that I prefer. That’s not the way of it. A story should end in a manner that is true to the characters, the story itself, and the author’s intentions.
Books I have read so far this year:
1. The Fellowship of the Ring– J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Two Towers– J.R.R. Tolkien
3. The Return of the King– J.R.R. Tolkien
4. The Tiger’s Wife– Tea Obreht
5. The Winter Queen– Boris Akunin