The Gentle Axe (Paperback)

By R. N. Morris

Penguin Books, 9780143113263, 305pp.

Publication Date: April 1, 2008

Fall '08/Winter '09 Reading Group List

“This deeply enjoyable historical crime novel traipses through the brothels, slums, and pawnbrokers of 1860s St. Petersburg with splendidly jovial Russian moroseness. Its hero is the shrewd and quirky police magistrate Porfiry Petrovich, who meets with constant resistance from his less-clever colleagues. A must-read for enthusiasts of literary mysteries and armchair time-travel.”
— Mark David Bradshaw, Watermark Books, Wichita, KS
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Fresh off the case of a deranged student who murdered his landlady, noted police investigator Porfiry Petrovich barely takes a breath before a bizarre and very grisly double murder lands him back on the streets of the tsarist St. Petersburg he knows all too well. The sardonic sleuth follows a trail from the drinking dens of the Haymarket district to an altogether more genteel stratum of society-a hunt that leads him to a conclusion even he will find shocking. In the tradition of such first-rate historical novels such as "The Alienist" and "The Dante Club, The Gentle Axe" is atmospheric and tense storytelling from its dramatic opening to its stunning climax.

About the Author

R.N. Morris was born in Manchester, England, in 1960 and now lives in North London with his wife and two children. He sold his first short story to a teenage girls' magazine while still a student at Cambridge University, where he read classics. Making his living as a freelance copywriter, he has continued to write, and occasionally publish, fiction. One of his stories, "The Devil's Drum," was turned into a one-act opera, which was performed at the Purcell Room in London's South Bank. Another, "Revenants," was published as a comic book. "A Vengeful Longing" is the follow-up to his first novel, "The Gentle Axe," published by The Penguin Press in 2006.

Praise For The Gentle Axe

"A satisfyingly grisly yarn, mawkish and macabre. CSI: St. Petersburg"
-The New York Times Book Review

"The Gentle Axe is a deftly plotted, enjoyable literary thriller."
-The Washington Post

"A smart, hypnotizing tale of crime and duplicity. . . . Genuinely pleasurable."
-The New York Sun

"Lush, and exceptionally compelling, but take your time-R. N. Morris's The Gentle Axe has a vast depth of Russian soul: mysterious, compassionate, and utterly irresistible."
-Alan Furst, author of The Foreign Correspondent

"The anti-Sherlock Holmes."
-The Philadelphia Inquirer