Turkish Gambit

Boris Akunin

translated from the Russian by Andrew Bromfield
Phoenix 2004
A book review by Danny Yee © 2010 https://dannyreviews.com/
Set during the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-1878, Turkish Gambit is the second of Boris Akunin's historical mysteries featuring Erast Fandorin. It is told, however, from the perspective of Varvara Suvorova, a progressive "new woman" who has made her way to the front line to join her fiancé. She and her ideas are gently satirised throughout, but she remains an attractive protagonist, easy for us to sympathise with.

After some misadventures, Varvara becomes part of a group of journalists and other hangers-on, following the Russian Army in the campaign running from the siege of Plevna to the Treaty of San Stefano. One of this group, it turns out, is a Turkish spy, but it takes several twists and turns before we find out exactly who.

With duels, chases, and other feats of derring-do, there's plenty of action in Turkish Gambit and its plot is fast-moving and engaging. It has a good assortment of engaging characters in addition to our two leads. And it is set against a back-drop of battles, diplomacy and treaties which adds some interest, especially since the historical setting is not well-known in the English-speaking world.

There are plenty more Erast Fandorin novels — Akunin is apparently trying to write one in every mystery sub-genre — and I'll certainly be grabbing the others if I spot them secondhand or on sale.

December 2010

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%T Turkish Gambit
%A Akunin, Boris
%M Russian
%F Bromfield, Andrew
%I Phoenix
%D 2004 [1998]
%O paperback
%G ISBN-13 9780753819999
%P 266pp