The Turkish gambit : a novel

by Boris Akunin

Other authorsBoris Bromfield (Translator)
Paperback, 2006




New York : Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2006.


The Russo-Turkish war is at a critical juncture, and Erast Fandorin, broken-hearted and disillusioned has gone to the front in an attempt to forget his sorrows. But he will need to resurrect all of his dormant powers of detection if he is to unmask a traitor in the Russian camp.

Media reviews

Unlike the slam-bang events of ''The Winter Queen," which left this reader breathless, ''The Turkish Gambit" is a slower and more cynical book.
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Andrew Bromfeld's excellent translation is as enjoyably dynamic as the original. It succeeds in conveying the writer-patriot's message to his many Russian readers that, in her pre-revolutionary past, Russia was surrounded by enemies, unable to trust even her allies, and that this is still the case. Thus Akunin's novels afford the English reader not only some fine entertainment, but also a conscious vision of something that Akunin's Russian fans probably access only on the level of the subconscious.

User reviews

LibraryThing member richardderus
The Book Report: Erast Petrovich Fandorin, titular counsellor of the Tsar's Special Branch (secret police, ugh), finds himself in the thick of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. In a manner very like that of a skinny, stammering love-child of James Bond and Nero Wolfe, Fandorin arranges things so that the party responsible for the sudden and inglorious halt of victorious Russian armies to Constantinople, long the most urgent desire of Imperial Russian froeign policy, comes inevitably to light. His newly minted assistant, the silly and delightfully idealistic Varvara Andreevna Suvorova, takes the center stage for much of this wild, careening caper; a good choice for misdirecting attention, that, and yet the author *scrupulously* plays fair and puts all the clues before the reader...yet Varya's goosey honkings about irrelevancies and her young woman of middling class and wealth scruples, presented with great and genuine affection by the author, do screen the actual malefactor's malefactions quite neatly. One scene, a sword-fight, is particularly nicely handled; Varya's emotions of fear, disgust, and slightly tickled vanity (it's over her honor the parties fight) are so believable that it's hard to imagine the author hasn't had the same thing happen to him. (I doubt much that it has, though.) Quite a wonderful piece of writing (and translation), and not the only one.

My Review: All hail TadAD! His praise tipped the scales for me, causing me to get these books. I don't regret this, though I am sorry that I waited so long. Still, that means I've got a lot of time before I run out of them! There are over ten in the series so far.

Very high-quality escapism, written and translated very ably, and presented in a point-of-view that's different enough to make the well-worn genre of lone wolf solves problems for Big Government, and then runs away from the limelight, feel fresh and new. Recommended to all who have a yen for solving puzzles...I didn't figure this one out until halfway through!
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LibraryThing member TadAD
This is the second chronologically of the Fandorin stories, though the third published. It covers the spy mystery sub-genre. Fandorin is much more established as a Holmesian type of sleuth by this book. Though I enjoyed watching Fandorin's character start to gel in the first book, The Winter Queen, I think I preferred this one slightly due to the introduction of Vavara Suvorova, a spunky young woman who seems destined to be entangled with Fandorin. I hope we see more of her in future volumes in the series.… (more)
LibraryThing member Joycepa
2nd in the Erast Fandorin series.

Set during the Russo-Turkish War, this installment features not so much Fandorin himself, but a “modern” (1877 style) liberated Russian woman, 22 year old Varvara Andreevna Suvorova, an emancipated Muscovite (kissing a woman’s hands is so 18th century), who is following the Russian army to Bulgaria in order to be reunited with her grass husband, Pyotr. A guide leaves her stranded at an inn, stealing her horse and her money, an emancipated damsel in distress. And who should come to the rescue but Erast Fandorin, a mysterious creature indeed.

Whne last we saw Fandorin in The Winter Queen, he was in Moscow having barely survived the bomb blast that killed his lovely young wife. Now older (21) and wiser, he is clearly someone of consequence to the Russian Intelligence Service. Varya becomes his secretary, and shares in his task--to find out the traitor who is informing the Turkish Army about Russian plans. The story is told from Varya's point of view.

Akunin supposedly has set himself the task of writing in a different mystery subgenre with each of his books. I am nowhere near so informed as to be able to tell what The Winter Queen was, except that it was quite picaresque and featured Fandorin blundering around Europe, accidentally discovering plots (the Tom Jones of the apprentice police procedural set). This one is clearly the international spy thriller, and it succeeds quite well in a light-hearted but very satisfying way.

Don’t expect deep character development or serious detection; this is a piece of Turkish delight, rather sophisticated fluff, and it’s obvious that Akunin enjoyed himself immensely writing it. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member danamanian
What a fun read! Praise on the dust-jacket is dead-on correct: the story is Holmesian, and the "novel ... does Christie, Collins and Conan Doyle proud." The Turkish Gambit is a roman à clef set during the Russo-Turkish War, 1877-1878. The great young detective, Erast Petrovich Fandorin, does his work among thinly disguised figures from the battle of Plevna. This is a very fast read: sparse descriptions, little character development. Very plot-driven, but so well done! I enjoyed this first brush with Akunin so much that I am changing my reading plans in order to catch the other three Akunin novels available in English before moving on. Highly recommended! Bromfield's translation is excellent, and does not get in the way of a great story.… (more)
LibraryThing member bcquinnsmom
Just in case you're interested, this may be the 3rd book in the series in order of release in the United States, but it follows shortly after The Winter Queen in chronology.

I do recommend it, but probably only if you've at least read The Winter Queen and enjoy the character of Ernst Fandorin. This book is not quite as good as Winter Queen or Murder on the Leviathan, so you may not enjoy it as much.

The story is set in 1877, while Russia is doing battle with the Ottoman Empire. The author begins by introducing one Vavara Surovova, a young Russian woman who is traveling dressed as a boy to meet her fiance who is a Russian soldier. Sadly, she is duped by her driver, who takes her to an inn, tells her he's going out to answer the call of nature, and takes off with her luggage, including money and passport. While she IS disguised, she is surrounded by an entire inn full of boisterous men, and has no money to pay for her meal. Just as she's ready to go into hysterics, she meets the most unlikely of saviors -- our own Erast Fandorin, who is also traveling to the regimental headquarters where Varya's fiance is stationed. They continue their travels & upon arriving, there is a crisis: Varya's fiance has been instructed to send a telegram with instructions regarding troop movements; but the telegram is sent with the wrong place name, costing the Russians many lives. It becomes a case of sabotage & treason, and Erast must get to the bottom of the mystery before the tide turns against the Russian army.

I liked it, and I've already read Murder on the Leviathan, so now it's The Death of Achilles.
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LibraryThing member dougwood57
'The Turkish Gambit' continues the career of erstwhile Russian police detective Erast Fandorin in this the third in Boris Akunin's distinctive mystery series (which is wildly popular in Russia). The book is set during the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War (the Russian and Ottoman Empires fought some 11 wars altogether and this was the last one, excepting WWI).

Fandorin, now in the Russian Army, but still stunned from his tragic loss in 'The Winter Queen' (the first book in the series), takes a back seat for most of the book to the primary narrative voice of the young radical Varya Suvorova. As usual Akunin's tale twists and turns with delightfully chameleon-like characters. The book's denouement centers on the Siege of Pleven - was a traitor providing information to the Turks? Or perhaps a murderous spy was afoot? Or was it just bad strategy implemented with poor tactics by the Russians?

Actual historical characters such as the 'White General' Mikhail Sobelev mix with Akunin's inconstant inventions in a complex web of international warfare and intrigue. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member MisterJJones
This is Akunin's second book featuring Erast Fandorin, his 19th century sleuth, and sees him caught up in a war between Russia and the Ottoman Empire. Varya is a young girl who finds her fiance accused of espionage, and Fandorin seems her only hope. But he is soon caught up in a web of politics and war, and Varya is pursued by amorous foreign correspondants.

This is another fascinating and entertaining read from Akunin. Fandorin is as entertaining as ever, as clever as Poirot, but somehow more human. Minor characters are fleshed out, the plot weaves in twists and turns that keep the reader gripped. This is perhaps not quite up the standard of Fandorin's adventures in mruder on the leviathan but well worth reading. Four stars.
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LibraryThing member ElTomaso
This is charming, imaginative, ironically heartwarming novel, based around the character Erast Fandorin, a young, resourseful member of the Russian "secret service," who entertains and charms in a series of novels, this being the best. There is romance, intrigue, and murder. An interesting window into late 1800's Russia is opened to the reader. I loved this book!… (more)
LibraryThing member chillybee
Disappointing. I have read a couple of other Fandorin mysteries and liked them better. The story meandered through excessive expositions and digressions, and we got to see very little of Fandorin. The main point of view in the book belonged to a highly annoying young woman and well before the end of the book I was longing to be out of her company for good.… (more)
LibraryThing member bookwoman247
This is the third in the Erast Fandoriin series. It is something of a detective/spy novel set in 1877 Bulgaria during the Russo-Turk War. The characters are wonderfully drawn. The inscrutable Erast Fandorin is a fascinating character, and I liked the young, idealistic Varvara Suvorova. The history is interesting, and the plot was exciting and intrigueing. Excellent stuff!… (more)
LibraryThing member hailelib
This is one of a series of novels featuring Erast Fandorin, sometimes investigator, spy, and whatever else is required of him. The setting is the Balkins during the Russo-Turkish war with the novel opening in July, 1877. Treason, murder, and politics mix here in an adventure featuring Varvara Suvorova (who has traveled to the front to be with Pyotr, her intended) and Fandorin, who has rescued her from a bunch of ruffians. They find themselves given the assignment to ferret out any Turkish spies and so on.

At this point, I really didn't know what I thought about the book but as I continued reading my interest in finding out what came next increased and in the end I did enjoy Akunin's novel. Thus I'll be returning this book to my shelves and I might read another of Akunin's books.
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LibraryThing member leslie.98
I generally like mysteries that are also historical fiction, so I was disappointed that I didn't enjoy this more. I don't know whether it is the translation from Russian or the writer's style, but despite the quite good plot, I found this slow-going.
LibraryThing member polarbear123
Akunin is a highly talented writer. He manages to come up with new ideas and new ways of representing the crime thriller. I admire the way he is able to give us different viewpoints of the main detective as we look at him in some books through his own eyes and in others through the eyes of seemingly relatively inconsequential characters. Here we learn about the Russo-Turkish war towards the end of the 19th century and hinting at the troubles lying ahead in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. The story harks back to the unsolved mysteries of the Winter Queen but here we have a more mature and worldy wise Fandorin. The machinations of the European mpowers come into play here and although we are caught up in the detective catching criminal meat and drink of a crime thriller, the real dram here lies in the politics beteen nations. Truly absorbing and a masterclass in how to write a thriller, as all Akunin novels seem to be so far!… (more)


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