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Sister Pelagia and the White Bulldog by…

Sister Pelagia and the White Bulldog (2000)

by Boris Akunin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Sr. Pelagia Mysteries (1)

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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
I liked this but I wouldn't place it among my favorite mysteries. It's scant on evidence and long on speculation, which is really the opposite of what I prefer. Still, there are some very good character studies in it. I'll probably read the next one, though, because the narrator's voice bothered me a lot after a while. ( )
  Lindoula | Dec 27, 2015 |
This is a charming mystery by Akunin. If you like Russian authors and a 19th century setting you should read this book. ( )
  SUS456 | Aug 16, 2015 |
I did enjoy this in a weird way. I found it an interesting commentary on present-day Russia as perceived from the outside e.g. the position of the Church. The ability of Sister Pelagia to change from being a nun to being Mrs Lisitsina was rather far-fetched as also was the chase through the night and escape from the raging torrent right near the garden of Drozdovka.
I appreciated the Dramatis Personae in the front of the book and used it often.
  louis69 | Aug 19, 2014 |
I was less enamored with Sister Pelagia and (at least based on this book) would recommend sticking to Erast Fandorin for your Akunin fix. I liked the character of the good sister who was “not a nun, but a walking disaster with freckles”, and who was the real brain behind the mystery solving of Reverend Mitrofanii, but the plot seemed a little muddled to me. There were contrived events, such as Pelagia losing her glasses but feeling “no urge to go back for them” to handicap her before a chase scene, as well as the somewhat inevitable plot twists at the end, but I suppose this is part of the fun of this kind of book.

The bigger issue was in the book’s lack of focus; it seemed to want editing. There are more references to modern Russian life and Putin veiled in this story than others which in one sense made it interesting, but when Akunin interjects with “The Conversations of his Grace Mitrofanii” and says it is “permissible to omit this brief section completely”, my advice would be to take him up on it. :P It was a mistake to go 23 pages without seeing Pelagia at this point in the novel. Your mileage may vary of course!

On genius, and finding one’s calling:
“’I think that there is genius hidden in everyone, a little hole through which God is visible,’ Pelagia began to explain. ‘But it is rare for anyone to discover this opening in themselves. Everybody gropes for it like blind kittens, but they keep missing. If a miracle occurs, then someone realizes straightaway that this is what he came into the world for, and after that he lives with a calm confidence and cannot be distracted by anybody else, and that is genius. But talents are encountered far more frequently. They are people who have not found that little magic window, but are close to it and are nourished by the reflected glow of its miraculous light.”

On good and evil in man:
“People are different, there are good ones and bad ones, His Grace taught him, but for the most part they are neither one thing nor the other, like frogs that taken on the temperature of the air around them. If it was warm, they were warm. If it was cold, they were cold.” ( )
1 vote gbill | Oct 15, 2013 |
transferring information from 2006 spreadsheet
  sally906 | Apr 3, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Boris Akuninprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bromfield, AndrewTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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...BUT I SHOULD tell you that, come the apple festival of Transfiguration Day, when the sky begins to change from summer to autumn, it is the usual thing for our town to be overrun by an absolute plague of cicadas, so that by night, much as you might wish to sleep, you never can, what with all that interminable trilling on all sides, and the stars hanging down low over your head, and especially with the moon dangling just above the tops of the bell towers, for all the world like one of our renowned 'smetana' apples, the kind that the local merchants supply to the royal court and even take to shows in Europe.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812975138, Paperback)

“Pelagia’s family likeness to Father Brown and Miss Marple is marked, and reading about her supplies a similarly decorous pleasure.”
The Literary Review

In a remote Russian province in the late nineteenth century, Bishop Mitrofanii must deal with a family crisis. After learning that one of his great aunt’s beloved and rare white bulldogs has been poisoned, the Orthodox bishop knows there is only one detective clever enough to investigate the murder: Sister Pelagia.

The bespectacled, freckled Pelagia is lively, curious, extraordinarily clumsy, and persistent. At the estate in question, she finds a whole host of suspects, any one of whom might have benefited if the old lady (who changes her will at whim) had expired of grief at the pooch’s demise. There’s Pyotr, the matron’s grandson, a nihilist with a grudge who has fallen for the maid; Stepan, the penniless caretaker, who has sacrificed his youth to the care of the estate; Miss Wrigley, a mysterious Englishwoman who has recently been named sole heiress to the fortune; Poggio, an opportunistic and freeloading “artistic” photographer; and, most intriguingly, Naina, the old lady’s granddaughter, a girl so beautiful she could drive any man to do almost anything.

As Pelagia bumbles and intuits her way to the heart of a mystery among people with faith only in greed and desire, she must bear in mind the words of Saint Paul: “Beware of dogs–and beware of evil-doers.”

“Critics on both sides of the Atlantic have praised [Akunin’s] clever plots, vivid characters and wit.”
Baltimore Sun

“Akunin’s wonderful novels are always intricately webbed and plotted.”
The Providence Journal

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:42 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Sister Pelagia, a Russian Orthodox nun in the late nineteenth century, first investigates the poisoning of several bulldogs belonging to her bishop's aunt, and then the deaths of two people found decapitated.

» see all 4 descriptions

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