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Tuesday, 28 November 2017

‘All The World's A Stage’ by Boris Akunin

Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson,
5 October 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-4746-0440-6 (HB)

It is 1911 and Erast Petravich Fandorin, among other things, is a private investigator and lives in Moscow. He receives a telephone call from Olga, the widow of Chekhov, an actress and old friend of Fandorin. She is concerned about her fellow actress and friend Eliza who when she last saw her burst into floods of tears but wouldn't tell her what was wrong. She begs Fandorin to see if he can find out the problem, he reluctantly agrees and goes to the new theatre where Eliza is performing that evening.

As Fandorin watches Eliza on stage he falls desperately in love with her. Then to his horror as the play ends there is an incident which if it had not been for the quick action of Nonarikin a member of the cast, could have caused her serious injury or even cost her her life.

Fandorin starts with his investigations by meeting all the cast, the manager of the theatre, Noah Stern and their benefactor Andrei Shustrov. He becomes aware of an undercurrent within the theatre, the cast seem jealous of each other and all seem to think they should have the leading parts.

Desperate to get Eliza to take an interest in him, Fandorin takes his servant Masa's advice and writes a play especially for her. It is a great success and she falls for Fandorin but keeps her feelings hidden.

Unknown to him, Eliza's estranged husband Iskander has threatened her not to take any lovers or even admirers, if she does he says it will be her fault if something happens to them.  When one is found dead the police think it is suicide but Eliza is convinced it is murder, so she is determined not to let Fandorin know how she feels about him, she fears for his life and even for her own.

When more deaths occur the police are convinced they are all suicides but Fandorin believes otherwise and is determined to find the truth.  Of course he has no idea of the threats to Eliza and is puzzled as to the connection of the deaths, could they be suicides after all? When the theatre itself is threatened, all becomes clear. However his hardest task is to win over Eliza's love, he really is desperate, does he stand a chance, will there be a happy ending?

Although there are a number of deaths in the book I would still describe it as a lovely “gentle” story. Akunin has a wonderful way of describing emotions and I could feel poor Fandorin's pain when Eliza rejects him. The solving of the deaths is almost secondary to the real trauma Fandorin goes through.

At the end of the book is the play he writes for Eliza, well worth reading too.

Recommended for those who enjoy a crime story without the gore!
Reviewer: Tricia Chappell

Boris Akunin is the pen name of Grigory Shalvovich Chkhartishvili, a Russian writer of Georgian origin. He was born 20 May 1956. He is best known as writer of detective and historical fiction. His Erast Fandorin books have sold over 18 million copies in Russia alone. He lives in London.

Tricia Chappell. I have a great love of books and reading, especially crime and thrillers. I play the occasional game of golf  (when I am not reading). My great love is cruising especially to far flung places, when there are long days at sea for plenty more reading! I am really enjoying reviewing books and have found lots of great new authors.

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