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Harlequin's Costume (Putilin Trilogy)

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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. As the clues accumulate, the list of suspects grows longer; there are even rumors of a werewolf at large in the capital. When the mystery is solved, the only person who saw it coming was Putilin.

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Petersburg from to The entire trilogy, Chief Inspector Putilin, appeared as a mini-series on Russian television in Glagoslav Publications. Successful detective fiction creates a landscape often an unfamiliar one into which the reader is drawn and allowed to wander a little.

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The landscape is often strewn with incidental or are they? The following excerpt is a fine example of economical, evocative writing and perceptive translation:. Ten minutes later they had driven under the arch of the General Headquarters, turned, and were driving down Nevsky.

Harlequin’s Costume

Suddenly the shouts of cabbies and coachmen rang out, and there was a continuous whoosh of rubber tires, like the fizzle of beer foam settling in mugs. A buoyant, elegant crowd was flowing down both sides of the avenue, noisily, as always happens during the first few warm evenings of Spring when the very air is suffused with the promise of a change for the better. Honestly, I feel like writing a short essay on why that paragraph is so effective but uncontrived, aural more than visual and allusive beyond the scene described.

Even the perfect use of commas is worth mentioning look away, grammar pedants!

The plot with its high-profile murder is set against the political background of the great European empires and the ever-present threat of another war. Predictably perhaps, the wife and some other characters are closer to caricatures, whereas Ivan Dmitrievich is subtly created from dialogue and quiet asides such as:. While the entire company was exterminating hares, Ivan Dmitrievich was gathering mushrooms,….

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There are many delightful details such as this that bring a bathetic note to the plot. Elsewhere, quintessential Russian vigour is evoked through irresistible chapter headings:. Furthermore, entire sections appear to channel Dostoyevsky to haunting effect. This allows for peculiarly Russian reflections on the truth of the narrative.

At one point, Putilin asks Safonov:. Eventually they decide to omit the story.

Harlequin's Costume by Leonid Yuzefovich - Library of Clean Reads

This may be set in the 19th Century, but some things are timeless. You have to be of German descent to produce such brilliant texts for such a long time! Best, Valery Kulakov newsletter-russica-book-and-art. Keep all of us, your readers,with your wonderful essays and reviews for many years to go. Thank you for your kind comment and your concern about my sleep, Anonymous Valery! I wish you health and happiness, too, and look forward to seeing your site when it's ready.

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