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Special Assignments
By Boris Akunin

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Special Assignments
The Further Adventures of Erast Fandorin
By Boris Akunin
Translated by Andrew Bromfield
ISIS Large Print, 2007
ISBN : 978-0-7531-7996-3
Genre: Mystery - Historical Fiction

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - June 13, 2008

Special Assignments is the newest installment in the Erast Petrovich Fandorin mystery series to become available in large print. This is a historical mystery set in 1889, and it takes place primarily in Moscow, Russia. Fandorin is a Russian Detective, part-time diplomat, and Moscow police officer. In this novel, he is working as the Governor-General of Moscow's Deputy for Special Assignments. In this role he is tasked with catching two prominent criminals. The first is the "Jack of Spades," a comical swindler and master of disguise whose antics are threatening the political stability of Russia's czarist regime. The second is "The Decorator," a serial killer who haunts the slums of Moscow, ala Jack the Ripper.

The two cases are worked as self-contained novels, aptly named Jack of Spades and The Decorator. While each case is worked separately, and could have easily been published independently, both have several interconnect elements that make the two stories mesh as if they were written as one continuous novel.

Written by Boris Akunin, which is the pen-name of Grigory Chkhartishvili, a Russian writer who is widely known for his work as a Japanese translator and as a fiction writer whose works are popular both in their native Russian, and in English translation. As in his previous novels, Special Assignments is a detailed and gripping mystery full of lots of twists and turns, and rich in historic details that bring the world of late 19th century Moscow vividly to light.

In Special Assignments, Akunin pits Fandorin against diametrically opposed opponents, the diabolical serial killer and the farcical swindler. Fandorin will need to use all his detective skills and sharp wits to catch his prey. Unlike the Akunin's previous novels, where Fandorin worked primarily alone, in this novel he acquires the service of a young police officer named Anisii Tulipov whom Fandorin quickly takes under his wing.

Special Assignments is a well-plotted, fast-paced mystery that will stun you with some of the turns the story takes, and which will keep you riveted to the page as you follow Fandorin on his quest to catch the bad guys. I highly recommend all the books in the Erast Fandorin Detective series, and Special Assignments is no exception. While it is always best to read a series in order so that you can become enmeshed in the characters' back-story, all of Akunin's books can be read as independent novels allowing the reader to read his novels in any order they can get their hands on them! This book is a must of all fans of Akunin's mysteries, as well as for anyone looking for a quirky and unforgettable mystery to savor.

Special Assignments can be purchased directly from Ulverscroft, the parent company of ISIS Large Print.

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