This is Akunin's second book featuring Erast Fandorin, his 19th century sleuth, and sees him caught up in a war between Russia and the Ottoman Empire. Varya is a young girl who finds her fiance accused of espionage, and Fandorin seems her only hope. But he is soon caught up in a web of politics and war, and Varya is pursued by amorous foreign correspondants.
This is another fascinating and entertaining read from Akunin. Fandorin is as entertaining as ever, as clever as Poirot, but somehow more human. Minor characters are fleshed out, the plot weaves in twists and turns that keep the reader gripped. This is perhaps not quite up the standard of Fandorin's adventures in mruder on the leviathan but well worth reading. Four stars.