Sunday, September 14, 2008


The novel is set in St. Petersburg in the summer of 1868. A seemingly open and shut case comes across the desk of Porfiry Petrovich. It seems a doctor brought home a box of chocolates for his wife and mentally challenged son. It seemed an odd gift for such a scorching summer afternoon. Within an hour both mother and son die excruciating deaths as the result of poisoned chocolates! Open and shut! The doctor did it! At least that's how it seems until a rash of seemingly unrelated deaths begin to pop up all over the heat leaden city. Porfiry is forced to reassess his assumptions and follow a tenuous, uncertain train that takes him into the hidden, squalid heat of the city and brings him face to face with incomprehensible horror and cruelty.

The novel is a sort of homage to the great Russian writer Dostoevsky's famous novel CRIME AND PUNISHMENT. R.N. Morris became fascinated with the novel at an early age. Porfiry Petrovich is a minor character in the Dostoevsky novel. Morris believed Porfiry deserved his own novel with his own story.

This novel is a dark journey into St. Petersburg. The tone is just right to give it the Gothic authenticity called for in this complex plot. I found myself swept up in the twists and turns of the plot of this fascinating novel. What do you think?

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