The reactionary Adjutant General Khrapov, newly appointed governor-general of Siberia and soon-to-be minister of the interior, is murdered in his official saloon carriage on his way from St. Petersburg to Moscow. The killer, disguised as Fandorin, boards the train at Klin, where it has been delayed by snowdrifts on the line. He leaves a knife bearing the initials "CG" (Combat Group) thrust up to the hilt in his victim's chest and escapes through the window of the carriage. Fandorin is first arrested for the crime, but quickly released when the train pulls into Moscow and the General's staff realise their blunder. The murder threatens the career of Prince Dolgorukoi, Moscow's elderly governor-general, and Fandorin's greatest fan. He asks Fandorin to investigate, even though someone new, Prince Pozharsky, has been sent from St. Petersburg to head the investigation. The head of the CG is a man named Mr. Green, the son of a Jewish pharmacist whose family suffered very badly from the pogroms. He bears a grudge and, together with his fellow revolutionaries, seeks vengeance. He is a man of steel, who has toughened himself so much that he is a worthy, and daunting, adversary.However, this is a battle between good and evil and Fandorin reminds us that two wrongs never make a right as he battles against Green in a test of wills.
In this one, Fandorin has signed on as a Counsellor with a prince who also runs the various police departments in Moscow, just as the anarchist movement is blowing things up. The dual track of the anarchist leader and Fandorin is well managed, and the subtle politics is definitely worth the read.
note: Fandorin has spent time in the East, and has a Japanese manservant and physical trainer who could have been the straightfaced basis for Inspector Clouseau's manservant in the Peter Sellers movies. Fandorin's guests are inevitably surprised by the man and the physical training they witness.