Thursday, August 13, 2009
Sometimes they're not all Winners!
As a book reviewer, most of the time I get books in to review that I enjoy very much. And then there are times when I get a book that I completely don’t understand, but feel obligated to finish. Blame it on my OCD, but there it is.
“Sister Pelagia and The Red Cockerel” by Boris Akunin is such a book.
Originally published in Russia, this translated novel is the third and final book in the Sister Pelagia series by Akunin, an acclaimed Russian author who is, however, lesser known in the United States.
Sister Pelagia is a Russian nun who is acting head of a girl’s school in Imperial Russia. She has discovered that she has a certain talent for solving crimes, and while it distresses her superior Bishop Mitrofanii, he allows her to use her abilities for the good of the country.
In “The Red Cockerel,” the good sister and the Bishop are traveling on a steamboat when a fanatical priest is mysteriously killed. It seems that someone on ship wanted to prevent the holy man and his followers from traveling to Jerusalem, and as it was Sister Pelagia who found the body, it’s up to the good Sister to try and help the police figure out why. Her sleuthing will take Sister Pelagia across her native Russia and deep into the Middle East and Israel, where she not only finds clues to the murder, but perhaps to the Earth’s greatest secret. (What that secret was, I could never figure out!)
I’ll have to be honest and say that this was one of the most difficult books I’ve read in a long time. Akunin’s attention to the most minute of details is excruciating for the reader and really doesn’t carry the story along. I’m sure this was a heavy and exciting read in Russia, but it just doesn’t carry well for American readers.