When he hears that one of his aunt's rare white bulldogs has been poisoned, Monsignore Mitrofanij, the orthodox bishop of a remote Russian province on the Volga, enlists the assistance of the resourceful Sister Pelagia to take on a complex morass of spurned lovers, canine conspiracy, political intrigue, greed, and knitting to uncover the culprit. Original. 40,000 first printing.
“Pelagia’s family likeness to Father Brown and Miss Marple is marked, and reading about her supplies a similarly decorous pleasure.”–The Literary ReviewIn 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