Marian Schwarz Translator. The year is Petersburg, has been killed in his own bed. The murder threatens diplomatic consequences for Russia so dire that they could alter the course of history. Leading the investigation into the high-ranking diplomat's death is Chief Inspector Ivan Putilin, but the Tsar has also called in the notorious Thi The year is Leading the investigation into the high-ranking diplomat's death is Chief Inspector Ivan Putilin, but the Tsar has also called in the notorious Third Department - the much-feared secret police - on the suspicion that the murder is politically motivated.
As the clues accumulate, the list of suspects grows longer; there are even rumors of a werewolf at large in the capital. Suspicion falls on the diplomat's lover and her cuckolded husband, as well as Russian, Polish and Italian revolutionaries, not to mention Turkish spies.
True to his maxim that "coincidence and passion are the real conspirators," Putilin seeks answers inside the diplomatic circus as well, which leads him to struggles with criminals and with the secret police itself. When the mystery is solved, the only person who saw it coming was Putilin.
Book Review – HARLEQUIN’S COSTUME by Leonid Yuzefovich
Petersburg from to The entire trilogy, Chief Inspector Putilin, appeared as a mini-series on Russian television in Get A Copy. Paperback , pages.
Published March by Glagoslav Publications first published More Details Original Title. Ivan Putilin 1. Ivan Dimitrovitch Putilin. Russian Federation. Other Editions 9. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Harlequin's Costume , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Apr 01, Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it Shelves: crime-fiction , crime-fiction-russia-ussr , historical-crime-fiction , translated-crime-fiction.
Harlequin's Costume is a blend of two of my favorite genres, crime fiction and historical fiction. The time is , the place St. The story is told looking back, as Putilin is working on his memoirs, "the most interesting material Petersburg's chief of police from to ; in Russia his exploits are the subject of a television mini-series. The novel is rich in period detail, and there is a definite sense of time and place that runs throughout. Considering that Yuzefovich is an historian who taught his beloved subject for some 29 years, this is not surprising.
It's easy to envision not only St.
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Petersburg at this time, but also the multi-faceted political and diplomatic intrigue going on all around poor Putilin as he tries to suss out the truth behind the death of von Ahrensburg. As it turns out, sometimes even the slightest detail becomes important to the crime's solution. As you navigate through the streets of St. Petersburg, there are also some funny moments that lighten the intensity of Putilin's investigation.
As far as the writing, at one point Putilin's editor notes: "Ivan Dmietrievich worked like an artist who scatters smears, blots, spots and lines on the canvas before a bewildered audience, in apparently random fashion, and then, with a flick of the wrist, suddenly pulls them together into a single whole and blinds his viewers with the instantaneous revelation of his intent, concealed hitherto in chaos. Ivan Dmietrievich bides his time until he finds that "imperceptible thread" to unravel the investigation; Yuzefovich also waits for the perfect moment to reveal all.
My only issue with this novel is that a number of times, with the switch from to later when Ivan Dmietrievich is discussing his stories with his editor, I did a quick "huh?
'These are books I'd like to share with the American audience' - Russia Beyond
One moment you're reading about a shipment from Genoa with its cargo of oranges and lemons, and the next the editor is saying "somehow the freight seems out of season. This is definitely not a book for crime readers who want a quick solution. The story moves a bit slowly, taking you through multiple suspects and their motives, and the author takes his time to set up the political and diplomatic scene while carefully sketching out his characters. This book would probably be suited more for readers of good historical fiction not the soap-operaish sort or historical crime readers who want to immerse themselves in a specific time and place while their armchair detective selves try to figure out the whodunit along with the detective.
I defy you to figure this one out - I certainly didn't. I hope the publishers don't wait too long before publishing the next installment -- this one was definitely right up my alley. Apr 10, JudithAnn rated it really liked it. This was a very entertaining story, that brought back the fantastic atmosphere of Russia in the late s that I had found previously in The Gentle Axe by R. Especially fun is when they force someone to volunteer to be the murderer. Interestingly, later on, more and more people are suspected of the crime.
This brilliant sentence on page "With this kind of evidence we can prove anything we like. I often lost track who was who and this also influenced my understanding of the story at times. On the other hand, I could very clearly picture the events in the story and it was not hard to imagine that this would make a brilliant tv series.
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View 1 comment. Oct 28, Michael rated it liked it Shelves: eastern-european-literature , s , translated-fiction , crime , mystery , historical-fiction , arc. I am very particular when it comes to crime novels; I like it to be dark and gritty. However there are some exceptions to the rule. The premise of the novel is simple; set in St. Chief Inspector Ivan Dmetrievich Putilin leads the investigation for this high profile case. Although investigating this case is not going smooth I am very particular when it comes to crime novels; I like it to be dark and gritty.
Although investigating this case is not going smoothly as the Tsar has also called in the secret police to find out if this murder was politically motivated. I am fascinated when authors manage to blend the line between fiction and reality. In particular when they take historical figures and add them into their novels. There is a fine line, and it is hard to get right.
the crime fiction collection (so far)
I think picking someone like Ivan Putilin is an easier pick as I cannot find much information about this man I do not understand Russian so that causes limitation. I would imagine picking a well-known historical figure would require more research. While on break from class, she goes to the open market and buys bird cherries, and has an incident with the fruit seller.
And in keeping with an over-tired tradition of portraying female characters as maternal figures, she serves as a counterweight to Rodygin. There is something Chekhovian about The Storm , in which the buildup of mood and atmosphere is, at least until the very end, more affecting than the external action. The second novella, Horsemen of the Sands , is far different. Its subject matter is a familiar one for Yuzefovich, who addressed it in the historical novel that first brought him literary recognition, The Sovereign of the Desert Samoderzhets pustyni , , revised Ungern had an abiding interest in Eastern cultures and converted to Buddhism.
He was also known for being extremely violent. After entering Mongolia, he ordered the killings of Bolsheviks, Jews, and the Chinese inhabitants loyal to the occupiers. His brutality was not restricted to his enemies; Horsemen of the Sands dramatizes his summary executions of people in his own circle for perceived disloyalty. Rather, it is concerned with the act of storytelling — with the questions of why and how we tell the stories we tell. The frame narrative, set in , is related in the voice of a Soviet soldier stationed in the Trans-Baikal region, who has become fascinated with Ungern.
This narrator seems to be a fictionalized stand-in for Yuzefovich. While wearing the amulet, Ungern had staged demonstrations of his inviolability by having people shoot at him in front of the locals, whom he was trying to win over to his side in the war. A less than honest yet guilt-ridden researcher in turn steals the amulet from the narrator.
It is the classic MacGuffin. Two linked questions loom large for the narrator and the novella as a whole: whether the story is true and whether that matters. As the narrator admits in the opening paragraph:. The humane thing to do, as the narrator recognizes, is to let people believe what they need to believe, regardless of its veracity. The horsemen of the sands had passed between us and scattered.