The Gentle Axe

The Gentle Axe Just before Christmas in St Petersburg Russia in police investigator Porfiry Petrovich faces his most challenging murder case since the events made famous by F Dostoevsky in the novel Crime a

  • Title: The Gentle Axe
  • Author: R.N. Morris
  • ISBN: 9781594201127
  • Page: 364
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Just before Christmas, in St Petersburg, Russia, in 1866, police investigator Porfiry Petrovich faces his most challenging murder case since the events made famous by F Dostoevsky in the novel Crime and Punishment a case with disturbing parallels and even darker implications Stumbling through Petvosky Park one cold morning in search of firewood, an elderly woman makes aJust before Christmas, in St Petersburg, Russia, in 1866, police investigator Porfiry Petrovich faces his most challenging murder case since the events made famous by F Dostoevsky in the novel Crime and Punishment a case with disturbing parallels and even darker implications Stumbling through Petvosky Park one cold morning in search of firewood, an elderly woman makes a horrifying discovery A burly peasant twirls in the wind, hanging from a bowed tree by a rope about his neck, a bloody axe tucked into his belt Nearby, packed neatly into a suitcase, is the body of a dwarf, a deep axe wound splitting his skull in two It does not take long for the noted police investigator Porfiry Petrovich, still drained from his work on the case involving the deranged student Raskolnikov, to suspect that the truth of the matter is complex than the crime scene might suggest Why do so many roads lead to the same house of prostitution and the same ring of pornographers Why do so many powerful interests seem intent on blocking his efforts His investigation leads him from the squalid tenements, brothels, and drinking dens of the city s Haymarket district to an altogether genteel stratum of society As he gets deeper and deeper in, and the connections between the two spheres begin to multiply, both his anger and his terror mount Atmospheric and tense from its dramatic opening to its shocking climax, The Gentle Axe is a spellbinding historical crime novel, a book that explores the darkest places of the human heart with tremendous energy, empathy, and wit As lucky as St Petersburg residents are to have Porfiry Petrovich in public service, we are equally fortunate to have R N Morris on hand to chronicle his most challenging case to date.

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    301 Comment

    • Mark says:

      As a native speaker of Russian, I was suspicious of this novel at first. When Roger Morris, an Englishman, pulled out Porfiry Petrovich, the investigating magistrate of Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment,” from his literary hereafter, I was afraid of getting into yet another Potemkin village. And, of course, Dostoevsky is mine. What right do foreigners have to exploit his characters? After all, in their ignorance of Russia, they often create what we call “a spreading cranberry,” a tall [...]

    • İlkim says:

      Orijinali Kitap Esintisi adresinde. Balta şans eseri rastlayıp almaya karar verdiğim bir kitaptı. Elime geçtikten kısa bir süre sonra da okuyayım dedim başladım. Kitabın kapağında Raskolnikov'u sorgulayan dedektifin hikayesi diye bir metin var, önce bu yüzden Suç ve Ceza'yı okumadığım için acaba kopukluk olur mu diye korktum. Başladıktan sonra da GR puanına bakayım bari dedim, puanı 3.44 görünce aman tanrım didim. Neyse ki o puanı pek de hak etmeyen bir kitapmış d [...]

    • Jane says:

      An axe murder, a young student, a pawn slip, a young prostitute, a yellow ticket, the magistrate investigator, Porfiry Petrovich is this Crime and Punishment Redux? Was this dèja lu [already read]? No, some of the same elements are present, but this author has stirred them together into a whole new stew.This novel started out well. I thought the idea of using the Crime and Punishment investigator was a good one. After all, after Conan Doyle's death, how many books with Sherlock Holmes as hero h [...]

    • Bibliophile says:

      A brutally murdered dwarf is found inside a suitcase in St. Petersburg’s Petrovsky Park, while the frozen body of the man presumed to be his murderer swings from a tree-branch overhead. R. N. Morris borrows Fyodor Dostoevky’s famous Porfiry Petrovich to investigate these crimes in The Gentle Axe. Fresh from his pursuit of the student Raskolnikov, Porfiry realizes that all is not what it seems and through a process of trial, error and astute psychology, manages to expose the true nature of th [...]

    • Peter says:

      This is a neat form of detective book, take a very famous literary investigator, one created by a great Russian novelist and turn him into a character with a world of his own. R.N. Morris has taken Porfiry Petrovich of Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky and turned him into a dark Russian investigating magistrate. It was a brilliant move and is the start of a series. It will be interesting to see how this evolves.

    • Beverly says:

      A wonderfully written murder mystery with the literary twist of featuring a Dostoyevsky character (from Crime & Punishment),police investigator Porfiry Petrovich. Researched and detailed in the Russian way, this compelling novel was hard for me to put down. (I read it in two sittings). I'm off now to find any interviews with Roger Morris that might answer some of my many questions about where he got this idea, how he researched it, and what he's going to write next! Wonderful work!

    • Lisa says:

      I don't like or dislike this book but I learned that I don't like reading Russian names, and that I only kept at it so long because the jacket design on my nice hardcover is so creamy and gorgeous, with a pleasing silky feel.

    • Donna says:

      Very interesting premise. While I am not very knowledgeable about Russian literature I do think Morris captured the spirit of the times and St. Petersburg and I did enjoy Porfiry Petrovich, from Dostoyevski's Crime and Punishment, as the detective.

    • Patrick says:

      Really didn't do much for me. I read it just after Sister Pelagia and the Black Monk, and the plot and the style were both a big step down.

    • Bart says:

      I give it a B+ on my personal grading scale. It was headed for an "A" until the last 25 pages. At the end the author delivers way too many solutions and tied up loose ends from way out of the blue, based on "facts not in evidence," so to speak. Still, the book is rich with czarist-era atmospherics and the main characterizations were rich and engaging. Still very much worth the read, but suspense fans, people (like me) who want a fighting chance of figuring out the mystery without a deus ex machi [...]

    • Janine says:

      This book is quite a fascinating read. Keeps you engaged in the book. I am reading the rest of the series.

    • Christiane says:

      Eu li este conto policial originalmente escrito no inglês e situado na Rússia do ano 1866 numa tradução portugûesa, o que pode ser uma das razões que não gostei muito dele. Além disso, acho que o estilo (o a tradução ?) é bastante mediocre.Dentro da grande quantidade dos personagens há alguns caracteres bem realizados e as descrições duma São Petersburgo gélida são muito atmosféricas.Mas acho que há muitos detalhes irrelevantes, a acção desenvolve-se demasiado lentamente e s [...]

    • Virginia Rounding says:

      It is December 1866, and two bodies have been discovered in St Petersburg’s Petrovsky Park. It looks as though a dwarf has been killed with an axe and stuffed in a suitcase, and that his murderer, in a fit of remorse, has hanged himself from a nearby tree. At least that’s how it seems to the old woman who finds the bodies (along with 6,000 roubles and a pack of pornographic playing cards), and to just about everyone else. The investigating magistrate, however, is not so sure. He is no ordina [...]

    • RJ McGill says:

      For readers that have been yearning for a book that speaks with an older, wiser voice, written in a long forgotten style, with a classic fluidity that can only be penned by a select few…Here ya’ go! R. N. Morris has delivered a novel that embraces the historic elements of a true masterpiece, indulges the nostalgic desires of the quintessential reader and satisfies even the most discerning contemporary suspense-thriller lover!Fyodor Dostoevsky first introduced readers to criminal investigator [...]

    • Alison Hardtmann says:

      "If I may make one further suggestion, your excellency. I fully accept the disciplinary action that you have initiated against me. However, I would propose that you postpone my suspension." "That's out of the question. I do not go back on my decisions." "Do you ever gamble, Yaroslav Nikolaevich?" The prokuror regarded Porfiry with as much affront as if he had spat in his face. "I propose a wager--that's all," pressed Profiry. "Delay my suspension for two days. If I have not solved the case, you [...]

    • Mike says:

      R.N. Morris picks up the career of Porfiry Petrovich, the man who tormented, and then drew a confession from, the Piter student Raskolnikov in Fyodor Dostoevsky's 'Crime and Punishment'. Taking on such a colossus of literature as Dostoevsky - willfully walking into his shadow - is the sort of mad act one would expect from one of his characters; Morris has succeeded. The descriptions with which the author builds 'The Gentle Axe', similar enough to Dostoevsky's to retain continuity, are deliberate [...]

    • Simon says:

      A Gentle Axe By R.N. Morris This is the first novel that I have read after being approached by the author on myspace, yes it is amazing that even novelists on Faber and Faber are out looking for likely readers on Myspace.Oh and full marks to Roger Morris for figuring out that I'd love to read his series of books that bring Porfiry Petrovich back to life.A Gentle Axe is the first in hopefully a long series of novels the second of which "A Vengeful Longing" is just out, and is on my to get list.So [...]

    • DROPPING OUT says:

      As it has been decades since I look at Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment (and so now I perhaps have an incentive to do so), I cannot say how well Morris "captures" the original Porfiry Petrovitch. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this truly atmospheric mystery. Morris clearly spent time in St. Petersburg, for he has the geography down pat. (Or, at least as best as I can remember it, for it is now twenty years since I spent delightful days in then Leningrad).My forebearers, who came from Tsarist Russia, [...]

    • Kathleen Fowler says:

      At the risk of repeating myself, I must once again protest that there are entirely too many novels being written these days that are based on the work of another author. I have reviewed several of them here on , and it’s ironic that I gave most of them fairly high ratings despite my bias against them. Such is the case with The Gentle Axe. This time around Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment provided the inspiration. While this is not a retelling of that story, it does “borrow” one of Dost [...]

    • Pat says:

      ( 3 stars for mood, setting, and nerve, 2 stars for.rdon the punexecution). It's not a timid author who dares to write a sequel to Dostoyevsky's immortal Crime and Punishment, featuring the same judicial investigating magistrate who prosecuted Raskolnikov;to Morris' credit, he does an adequate job of painting the bleak,existential,soul-stealing, impoverished,authoritarian world of 1860s Russia.His dialogue and characters struggle with the same moral issues and absence of hope that permeated C an [...]

    • Sarah Beth says:

      This novel reminded me of a Russian, historical fiction version of a Law & Order episode. The central character is police investigator Porfiry Petrovich, who spends the novel trying to solve the mystery of who murdered two men and set them up to look like a dual murder/suicide. I have not read Crime and Punishment (yet) so I felt somewhat left out of Porfiry's back story and the references to a previous case involving Raskolnikov. However, I don't think it impeded my understanding of the nov [...]

    • Peggy says:

      I read a lot of books in June. Somehow or other, all of the books I had on my reserve list at the library came at the same time. Quite a dilemma as one of them was the 900 page historical novel . But I did manage to read and enjoy The Gentle Axe before it was due back at the library.It being summer, I was in the mood for detective fiction. Mysteries are pretty much my brain candy of choice - I will gobble them down voraciously, which is why I don't allow myself to read much detective fiction nor [...]

    • Gerund says:

      A GREAT novel spawns any number of unofficial sequels; and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime And Punishment has definitely had its share.This time, British writer R.N. Morris does the honours, giving Dostoevsky’s enigmatic detective, Porfiry Petrovich, another bloody murder to solve.Set about a year and a half after the events in Crime And Punishment, two corpses are discovered in isolated Petrovsky Park in the dead of winter.The first is a man hanging from a tree, an axe attached to his belt. At hi [...]

    • Rob Kitchin says:

      A Gentle Axe is the first book in the Porfiry Petrovich series set in St Petersburg at the late nineteenth century. The central character is borrowed from Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and works as an investigating magistrate in the bustling city, which is stratified by wealth and class. In conducting his cases Porfiry Petrovich has to negotiate the formal social structures and politics, as well as mix with the poor and needy. It requires diplomacy and determination, especially when certai [...]

    • LJ says:

      A GENTLE AXE (Historical-Police Procedural-St. Petersburg, Russia-1866) – G+Morris, R. N. – 2nd in seriesFaber and Faber, 2007- UK Hardcover – ISBN: 9780571237845First Sentence: It was well into the morning when the darkness began to fade.*** Porfiry Petrovich Virginsky is an investigating magistrate from the Department of the Investigation of Criminal Causes. In Petrovsky Park in the middle of winter two bodies are found; a dwarf who has been killed by an axe and stuffed in a suitcase, an [...]

    • Kristen says:

      I had too high of hopes for this book. After reading Crime and Punishment, don't at all expect the same dialect or language. This book is a murder mystery with just coincidentally Porfiry Petrovich. The writing style and description is vastly different from the story it is continuing. It was an alright book. The murder and unexpected investigations and leads motivated me to keep reading. Virginisky was slightly relatable to Raskolnikov, slightly. I feel like Morris indirectly tries to follow Dos [...]

    • Lisa says:

      Just on plot alone this is a twisty, juicy mystery. Finding two dead bodies found in a park -- a dwarf with his head bashed in stuffed into a suitcase and a large man hanging from a tree with an axe in his belt -- police in St. Petersburg, Russia, initially think it's a murder-suicide. But a closer examination reveals that they were both murdered, and it's up to Porfiry Petrovich -- yes, THAT Porfiry Petrovich, from "Crime and Punishment" -- to figure out what's really going on, combing clues fr [...]

    • Darrell says:

      "Her daughter's unquestioning love overwhelmed her. She felt undeserving of it. At the same time, she had a sense of the child, so fierce in her innocence, as being eternally closed to her, strange, other, and somehow out of bounds."While reading Crime and Punishment first will help you appreciate The Gentle Axe more, it's not necessary. R. N. Morris stays faithful to Dostoevsky's masterpiece while also giving us something new. Raskolnikof is absent this time around, leaving the spotlight for th [...]

    • Paul Barton says:

      Porfiry Petrovich is a quite well-formed and actually rather likeable character. It's easy to forget that he has been borrowed from the original works of Dostoyevsky. Morris's command of English is beautiful. His sentences are straightforward yet subtle and loaded with meaning.Winter in St Petersburg is wonderfully evoked as are the apartment buildings and offices. The plot is tortuous and not easily followed but thankfully Morris gives Petrovich a denouement scene rather like those Agatha Chris [...]

    • Katerina says:

      Although The Gentle Axe is a crime novel, it moves at a slower, more contemplative pace. R. N. Morris weaves a complex mystery which is neatly tied together by Porfiry Petrovich. The story feels much deeper than a murder mystery. Porfiry has a sense of wonder about the world and the people around him. For example, he pauses at a pawnshop to consider the history of the items collected there. He also sees the people, looking beyond the stereotypes that stop others. This enables him to treat the do [...]

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