Still playing catchup on reviews. One more to come!
Murder on the Leviathan (223 p.)
In Murder on the Leviathan, Akunin tackles the style of Agatha Christie. A ridiculously odd and complex murder takes place in an upper class household in France. Linking the murderer to a first class passenger going on a voyage on ship sailing from England to India, an intrepid French detective gets passage for himself. Among those falling under his suspicion is Erast Fandorin, the uber-detective of our series. Ala Christie, each suspect is interrogated, irrelevant facts are discovered that throw more or less suspicion on everyone else, there are mysterious deaths and thefts that anyone could have committed, and everything is explained in one big group session at the end.
Akunin clearly has a good time with the plot of this novel. Unlike The Winter Queen, Akunin is not dually bogged down by presenting a complex story along with character creation and development. His creativity is left to run wild, making an ingenious mystery that just keeps getting odder and odder. The ending – with a quick, changing succession of possible villains – was very amusing. In fact, it’s probably the first in the series that I’d characterize as flat-out fun.
This book can be picked up independently of the first two in the series and read stand-alone. It is told through the point of view of several different characters, and although Fandorin does play a pivotal role in the completion of the mystery, he is not the main character throughout. It, like the other books in this series, is highly recommended.
So, I lied about taking a break from this series. I know I lost some enthusiasm with Equal Rites, largely because I missed Rincewind and the Luggage. When I found out that Death played a large role in Mort, I decided to go ahead and pick it up. I liked Death a lot from the Hogfather film I watched on Netflix and so thought I’d like this Discworld novel equally as well.
And I did, largely because I found Death so appealing. The story follows the life of Mort, a boy who, for lack of better options, becomes apprenticed to Death. Eager for a break and interested in becoming more human, Death jumps at the chance to hand his duties over to Mort, without really bothering to explain them all that well. While Death finds true happiness working as a short-order cook with kittens underfoot, Mort is finding himself morphing into Death and making terrible mistakes. Top among them being not killing someone that should have died. He also happens to have a bit of a crush on that someone. With the help of his compatriot’s – Death’s adopted daughter and his servant Alfred – Mort tries to set things right. Of course, things never turn out quite right, resulting in a whole heap of trouble.
I’m not sure I’d have given it as high of marks it’s received on the ‘Big Read’ and other lists, but it was an enjoyable book. I really will be taking a break from Discworld though, even though I know Rincewind is coming back in the next installment, as I have a pile of backlogged books that I need to get through for the CBR.