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Pelagia and the White Bulldog
By Boris Akunin

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Pelagia and the White Bulldog
By Boris Akunin
ISIS Large Print, 2007
ISBN : 978-0-7531-7686-3
Genre: Mystery

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - March 16, 2007

Pelagia and the White Bulldog is the newest offering by Boris Akunin to be translated into English. Akunin's real name is Grigory Chkhartishvili, and he is a Russian writer who is widely known for his work as a Japanese translator. However, he has made an even bigger name for himself as Boris Akunin, the novelist. Akunin is perhaps best known, in the English 'reading' world, as the author of the outstanding Detective Erast Fandorin series, however in this new offering he introduces a new protagonist in the form of Sister Pelagia, a Russian Orthodox Nun who lives in Zavolzhsk, a town in a remote Russian province. This mystery is set during the Tzarist period, and in it we find that Pelagia has been set with the task of discovering who poisoned a white bulldog that happens to belong to the general's widow Tatischcheva, who just happens to be the Aunt of Reverend Mitrofaii, the Bishop of Zavolzhie.

Pelagia has a long history as a successful, and tactful, amateur detective, and she will need to use all the skills that she has acquired to solve this perplexing mystery. As the canine death count grows, human corpses begin to appear causing Pelagia to come to the all too certain conclusion that there is something much more sinister at hand and that the next victim might be the Bishop's Aunt!

Pelagia is a wonderful heroine. Frumpy and somewhat clumsy, Pelagia is a cross between Miss Marple and Columbo. Like these other beloved detectives, Pelagia finds that she has more suspects than she knows what to do with, and it is a pleasure to follow her as she wades through all the information presented to her, until she at last uncovers the culprit. Pelagia and the White Bulldog is a cleverly constructed mystery, full of the requisite red-herrings and false leads. The characters are many and varied, and Akunin keeps you guessing about what is really going on.

Pelagia and the White Bulldog is a grand, historical novel filled with interesting tidbits about life in Tzarist Russia toward the end of the 19th Century, and it has easily moved to the top of my list of favorite mysteries by Akunin. The story is well paced, the mystery deliciously devious, the descriptions superb, and Sister Pelagia is a most unusual and charming amateur detective! I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a fast-paced and engrossing mystery.

Pelagia and the White Dog can be purchased directly from Ulverscroft, the parent company of ISIS Large Print.

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