A Gentle Axe by R. N. Morris

This is my fourth and last book for the R. I. P. Challenge!

A Gentle Axe by R. N. MorrisThis is a detective taking part in 1866’s Russia, in St. Petersburg. The first thing you notice in this book (2007) is the Russian names. Hello Dostoevsky! I felt at home straight away (in the sense that I’ve always liked those Russian names in the Russian classics). We have, for instance, Jekaterina Romanovna Lebedjeva or Lilja Ivanovna Semonova. I love it!

The book itself was very atmospheric. It felt just right: it was cold, people were wearing fur coats (if they could afford it), lots of people living in corners of rooms (with their whole family), prostitutes, different treatment for the rich and the poor.

Porfiri Petrovich is a police investigator who is looking into the deaths of two men: one hung from a tree in a park, with a bloody axe on his belt, the other was in a suitcase near his feet (being a small person he fitted in) with a hole in his head, obviously made by the axe.

Porfiri refuses to believe that the hanging man first killed the small man and then hung himself. Against the wishes of his superior he investigates this case and discovers more and more people that are somehow related to each other and to the murders.

Towards the end of the book, Porfiri has found his murderer and he explains to him a very complex story of how he is sure this person was responsible. He mentions many of the earlier people and how they  contributed to the motif of the murders. I found this hard to follow and it was not something that I could have inferred from the clues myself. This was a rather disappointing end to a nice story.

Rating: 4/5

I got this book: for my mother’s birthday. Then she lent it to me. It seemed interesting enough, although it would not be my first choice for myself.

I read this in: Dutch, the original language of the book is English.


About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at bookhelpline.com. In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

9 Responses to A Gentle Axe by R. N. Morris

  1. Julie says:

    Isn’t it nice when you get a book from someone else that you don’t think is your style but then you end up really liking it? Hope you have a wonderful week…..

    • leeswammes says:

      Thanks, Julie. I did chose the book for my mother, but didn’t really think I’d read it myself. I’ve been known for giving books as a present and then borrowing them later! In this case, I chose it just for my mother. Promise!

  2. Kailana says:

    Names like that would give me pause. lol I would have to stop and try and figure out how to pronounce them!

  3. chasing bawa says:

    I think Porfori was the detective in D’s Crime & Punishment, wasn’t he? I tried to read this straight after I read C&P but found it a little slow and couldn’t finish it. Maybe I needed a bit of time in between;P I think there are a couple more books afterwards which have also had some great reviews.

    • leeswammes says:

      I must admit I didn’t read Crime an Punishment, or if I did, it’s a very, very long time ago. I thought Porfiri is some kind of illness, actually. 🙂

  4. Pingback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? « Leeswammes' Blog

  5. I have this on my shelf. It sounds like it’s a good one, though it’s disappointing when the resolution to a mystery is so convoluted you couldn’t have worked it out for yourself with the clues given. It feels like the author didn’t play fair.

    • leeswammes says:

      That’s what I thought too, laughingstars. But who knows? Maybe you’ll see right through it all and discover who-done-it way before the end. I loved the atmosphere of the book, 19th century Russia. Don’t leave it too long! I would say, it’s a nice book for the winter, as there is lots of cold and snow in the book.

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