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A Razor Wrapped in Silk by R. N. Morris

A Razor Wrapped in Silk

by R. N. Morris

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Third in the series and this is definitely not as captivating as the frist two. Unfortunately it takes a while to get going with the background to civil unrest at the turn of the century in Russia getting mot of the author's attention. Fair enough but add in the mix the confusion of two main suspects with the same name and at times i felt a little bit underwhelmed. It does deliver in the end but definitely not Morris's strongest. ( )
  polarbear123 | Oct 16, 2011 |
"Can you make anyone confess to anything?” – Captain Mizinchikov

Given his long and illustrious track record of solving even the most baffling of cases, said question is a fair one to be posed to Investigating Magistrate Porfiry Petrovich. Yet, A Razor Wrapped in Silk, the third outing for Fyodor Dostoevsky’s famous investigator under the skillful hand of author R.N. Morris, finds Porfiry Petrovich challenged with solving two seemingly unrelated cases and, for the first time, beginning to question his skills as an investigator.

The intrigue begins when Petrovich is approached with a request from a privileged young woman to investigate the disappearance of several children. Barely more than indentured servants working long hours in a factory under horrendous conditions, disposable in the eyes of society at large, their absence was noticed by the young woman when the children stopped showing up for lessons at her free school.

Petrovich agrees to look into the matter, but when another young woman from the world of the aristocracy is murdered shortly thereafter while attending a play the full resources of the police force are brought to bear on that case, and the missing children investigation falls by the wayside.

As his investigation of the society murder progresses Petrovich begins to see connections between it and the missing children, connections that bring Petrovich into conflict with both the disdainful aristocracy and the distrustful revolutionaries, and which ultimately set Petrovich on a collision course with the Tsar himself.

The investigations make for a great detective story in and of themselves but, as with the previous two entries in the series, where A Razor Wrapped in Silk truly shines is in author R.N. Morris’ exquisite portrayal of both time and place. Set in 1870 Saint Petersburg, Russia, A Razor Wrapped in Silk gives readers a fascinating look at the very disparate living conditions and opportunities that existed during a time when a society and nation were on the verge of historic upheaval, and where one’s position in the socioeconomic hierarchy greatly affected not only how you were treated in life, but also in death.

From the grim conditions in the factories just taking hold to the opulence of The Winter Palace, Morris masterfully brings Saint Petersburg and its inhabitants to life. Every detail rings true, every character a perfect reflection of their position in a society clearly divided between the haves and have-nots, with the wonderfully single-minded and eccentric Porfiry Petrovich acting as a bridge between the two worlds.

If you are a fan of Crime and Punishment I strongly urge you to jump into this series (you don’t have to start at the beginning). Interestingly, if you despise Crime and Punishment – or couldn’t even get through it at gunpoint in high school – I actually encourage you even more to try this series. While he’s borrowed Porfiry Petrovich from Dostoevsky, Morris has put his own stamp on the character. It’s a subtle one, but made a crucial difference to me as someone who was, at best, indifferent on Crime and Punishment before discovering Morris’ fresh take on the character.

So go ahead, take a trip to Russia. Not only is there a great series waiting for you, but you may (re)discover an appreciation for one of the all time classic works of literature in the process. ( )
  AllPurposeMonkey | Mar 7, 2011 |
A Razor Wrapped in Silk, leads us through a foggy autumn in the city of the Tsar.

Porfiry Petrovich, the famed detective from Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, is an investigating magistrate who is well known for his unique mannerisms and unparalleled success in solving crimes. In this outing, he is working on two seemingly unrelated crimes -- the disappearance of child factory workers and the murder of a society mistress. Porfiry is determined to solve the crimes in his own way despite the interference of the special police, an infiltrator in his home, a surly companion and even the wishes of the Tsar himself.

I was most impressed while reading this novel by the way that it explored Porfiry's aging mind and body. Unlike Agatha Christie's never-wavering Poirot, Porfiry begins to feel the pressures of age. Failing eyesight, achy bones and a wandering mind are just a few of the things he believes are starting to affect his work. And yet, he remains brilliant and professional and his handling of the cases presented to him is masterful. His relationship with his young assistant, Pavel Pavlovich, is also tested in a touching and believable way. Pavel is losing faith in his aging mentor and yet still sees him as a virile competitor when it comes to the affections of a young woman. I almost felt the mysteries to be a subplot to the much more interesting character studies that were happening in this novel. Morris' prose is a pleasure to read.

http://webereading.com/2010/12/new-release-razor-wrapped-in-silk.html ( )
  klpm | Dec 1, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0571241158, Paperback)

St Petersburg. 1870. A child factory worker is mysteriously abducted. A society beauty is sensationally murdered. Two very different crimes show up the deep fissures in Russian society of the late tsarist period. The first is barely noticed by the authorities. The latter draws the full investigative might of St Petersburg's finest, led by magistrate Porfiry Petrovich. The dead woman had powerful friends - including at least one member of the Romanov family - so when the tsar's notorious secret police becomes involved, it seems that both crimes may have a political - not to say revolutionary - aspect. A trail of missing children leads to a shocking discovery that takes Porfiry inside the Winter Palace for a confrontation with the Tsar himself. The usually incisive magistrate grows increasingly unsure what to believe, who to trust and how to proceed. His very life appears to be in danger, though from whom he can't be sure...

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

St Petersburg. 1870. A child factory worker is mysteriously abducted. A society beauty is sensationally murdered. Two very different crimes show up the deep fissures in Russian society of the late tsarist period. The first is barely noticed by the authorities. The latter draws the full investigative might of St Petersburg's finest.… (more)

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