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Authors: Boris Akunin

The Coronation

BOOK: The Coronation
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The Coronation: The Further Adventures of Erast Fandorin
Boris Akunin
Orion (2010)
Tags: Fiction, General, Classics
Fictionttt Generalttt Classicsttt

Grand Duke Georgii Alexandrovich arrives in Moscow for the coronation, with three of his children. During an afternoon stroll, daughter Xenia is dragged away by bandits, only to be rescued by an elegant gentleman and his oriental sidekick. The passing heroes introduce themselves as Fandorin and Masa, but panic ensues when they realise that four-year old Mikhail has been snatched in the confusion. A ransom letter arrives from an international criminal demanding the handover of the Count Orlov, an enormous diamond on the royal sceptre which is due to play a part in the coronation. Can the gentleman detective find Mikhail in time?

The Coronation: The Further Adventures of Erast Fandorin
Boris Akunin
Orion (2010)
Tags: Fiction, General, Classics
Fictionttt Generalttt Classicsttt

Grand Duke Georgii Alexandrovich arrives in Moscow for the coronation, with three of his children. During an afternoon stroll, daughter Xenia is dragged away by bandits, only to be rescued by an elegant gentleman and his oriental sidekick. The passing heroes introduce themselves as Fandorin and Masa, but panic ensues when they realise that four-year old Mikhail has been snatched in the confusion. A ransom letter arrives from an international criminal demanding the handover of the Count Orlov, an enormous diamond on the royal sceptre which is due to play a part in the coronation. Can the gentleman detective find Mikhail in time?

Praise for Boris Akunin

THE CORONATION

‘A novel as crammed with delights as the Tsarina’s jewel box’

Daily Telegraph

‘Akunin’s brilliance lies in taking the elements of a classic detective story and imbuing them with a poignant emotional complexity’

Sunday Times

‘Erast Petrovich lives to fight another day, and for his many aficionados that can only be a good thing’

New Statesman

‘Fandorin is there to provide the solution, rescue the missing child and – in common with the reader – have a lot of fun’

The Times

THE STATE COUNSELLOR

‘Lively characters and a sinuous plot amply explain why Akunin’s Fandorin thrillers have sold in their millions’

Financial Times

‘All the usual Akunin fingerprints are here – wonderful period settings, delirious plotting and that wry, understated sense of
humour’

Good Book Guide

‘Fandorin is as likeable and charismatic as ever in what can only be described as a truly ripping yarn’

Gloss

Boris Akunin is the pseudonym of Grigory Chkhartishvili. He has been compared to Gogol, Tolstoy and Arthur Conan Doyle, and his Erast Fandorin books have sold over eighteen million copies in Russia alone. He lives in Moscow.

By Boris Akunin

 

FEATURING ERAST FANDORIN

The Winter Queen

Murder on the Leviathan

Turkish Gambit

The Death of Achilles

Special Assignments

The State Counsellor

The Coronation

She Lover of Death

FEATURING SISTER PELAGIA

 

Pelagia and the White Bulldog

Pelagia and the Black Monk

Pelagia and the Red Rooster

The Coronation

The Further Adventures of Erast Fandorin

 

BORIS AKUNIN

 

TRANSLATED BY ANDREW BROMFIELD

A Weidenfeld & Nicolson ebook

A WEIDENFELD & NICOLSON EBOOK

First published in Great Britain in 2009 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
This eBook first published in 2010 by Orion Books.

First published in Russian as
Koronaciya
by Zakharov Publications,
Moscow, Russia and Edizioni Frassinelli, Milan, Italy.

Published by arrangement with Linda Michaels Limited,
International Literary Agents

Copyright © Boris Akunin 2000
Translation © Andrew Bromfield 2009

The right of Boris Akunin to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the copyright, designs and patents act 1988.

The right of Andrew Bromfield to be identified as the translator of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the copyright, designs and patents act 1988.

All characters and events in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior permission in writing of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published without a similar condition, including this condition, being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

eISBN: 978 0 2978 5582 8

Orion Books
The Orion Publishing Group Ltd
Orion House 5
Upper St Martin’s Lane
London WC2H 9EA

An Hachette UK Company

This ebook produced by Jouve, France

www.orionbooks.co.uk

Contents

 

Cover

Title

Copyright

Praise

By Boris Akunin

20 May

6 May

7 May

8 May

9 May

10 May

11 May

12 May

13 May

14 May

15 May

16 May

17 May

18 May

19 May

20 May

20 May

 

He died in front of my very eyes, this strange and disagreeable gentleman.

It all happened so quickly, so very quickly.

The very instant the shots roared out, he was flung back against the cable.

He dropped his little revolver, clutched at the shaky handrail and froze on the spot, with his head thrown back. I caught a momentary glimpse of a white face, bisected by a black strip of moustache, before it disappeared behind the black mantle.

‘Erast Petrovich!’ I shouted, calling him by his given name and patronymic for the first time.

Or did I only mean to shout?

The precarious decking swayed beneath his feet. His head suddenly bobbed forward as if from a powerful jolt, his body began slumping, chest forward, over the cable, then swung round grotesquely – and the next instant it was already hurtling down, down, down.

The precious casket fell from my hands, struck a rock and split open. There was a flash of blinding sparks from the multicoloured facets of the diamonds, sapphires and emeralds, but I did not even glance at these incalculable riches as they scattered into the grass.

From the ravine there came the soft crunch of an impact, and I gasped. The black bundle went tumbling down the steep slope, gathering speed along the way and only ceasing its nauseous whirling motion at the very edge of the stream. It dropped one lifeless hand into the water and lay there, face down in the gravel.

I had not liked this man. Perhaps I had even hated him. In any case, I had wanted him to disappear from our lives once and for all. But I had not wished for his death.

His trade was risk, he toyed with danger constantly, but somehow I had never thought he could be killed. He had seemed immortal to me.

I do not know how long I stood there like that, gazing stiffly down. It cannot have been very long. But time seemed to rupture, to split apart, and I fell into the rent – back into the old, serene life that had ended abruptly exactly two weeks earlier.

Yes, that was a Monday too, the sixth of May.

6 May

 

We arrived in the ancient capital of the Russian state in the morning. Owing to the imminent coronation festivities, the Nikolai I Station was congested with traffic and our train was sent off via a transfer line to the Brest Station, which seemed to me a rather ill-judged decision, to say the least, on the part of the local authorities. I can only assume that a certain coolness in relations between His Highness Georgii Alexandrovich and His Highness Simeon Alexandrovich, the governor-general of Moscow, must have played some part in it. I can think of no other way to explain the humiliating half-hour wait on the points at the marshalling yard and the subsequent diversion of our special express train from the main station to a secondary one.

And we were not met on the platform by Simeon Alexandrovich himself, as protocol, tradition, family connection and, ultimately, simple respect for an elder brother should have required, but only by a member of the reception committee, a minister of the imperial court who, incidentally, immediately departed for the Nikolai I station to receive the Prince of Prussia. But since when has the heir to the Prussian throne been accorded more attention in Moscow than the uncle of His Majesty, the admiral-general of the Russian fleet and the second most senior of the grand dukes of the imperial family? Georgii Alexandrovich did not show it, but I think he felt no less indignant than I did at such a clear affront.

It was a good thing at least that Her Highness, the Grand Duchess Ekaterina Ioannovna, had stayed in St Petersburg – she is so zealous about the subtle points of ritual and maintaining the dignity of the royal family. The epidemic of measles that had laid low the four middle sons – Alexei Georgievich, Sergei Georgievich, Dmitry Georgievich and Konstantin Georgievich – prevented Her Highness, an exemplary and loving mother, from taking part in the coronation, the supreme event in the life of the state and the imperial family. There were, it is true, venomous tongues who claimed that Her Highness’s absence at the celebrations in Moscow was to be explained less by maternal love than by a reluctance to play the part of a mere extra at the triumph of the young tsarina. There was also mention of last year’s incident at the Christmas Ball, when the new empress suggested that the ladies of the royal family should establish a handicraft society, and that each of the grand duchesses should knit a warm cap for the little orphans at the Mariinsky Orphanage. Perhaps Ekaterina Ioannovna’s reaction to this proposal was a little too severe. It is even quite possible that since then relations between Her Highness and Her Majesty had not been entirely good. However, no provocation was intended by My Lady’s not coming to the coronation, I can vouch for that. Whatever Ekaterina Ioannovna’s feelings towards Her Majesty may be, under no circumstances would she ever presume to neglect her dynastic duty without a very serious reason. Her Highness’s sons really were ill.

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