"Pelagia';s family likeness to Father Brown and Miss Marple is marked, and reading about her supplies a similarly decorous pleasure." -The Literary Review In a remote Russian province in the late nineteenth century, Bishop Mitrofanii must deal with a family crisis. After learning that one of his great aunt';s beloved and rare white bulldogs has been poisoned, the Orthodox bishop knows there is only one detective clever enough to investigate the murder: Sister Pelagia.
The bespectacled, freckled Pelagia is lively, curious, extraordinarily clumsy, and persistent. At the estate in question, she finds a whole host of suspects, any one of whom might have benefited if the old lady (who changes her will at whim) had expired of grief at the pooch';s demise. There';s Pyotr, the matron';s grandson, a nihilist with a grudge who has fallen for the maid; Stepan, the penniless caretaker, who has sacrificed his youth to the care of the estate; Miss Wrigley, a mysterious Englishwoman who has recently been named sole heiress to the fortune; Poggio, an opportunistic and freeloading "artistic" photographer; and, most intriguingly, Naina, the old lady';s granddaughter, a girl so beautiful she could drive any man to do almost anything.
As Pelagia bumbles and intuits her way to the heart of a mystery among people with faith only in greed and desire, she must bear in mind the words of Saint Paul: "Beware of dogs-and beware of evil-doers." "Critics on both sids of the Atlantic have praised [Akunin';s] clever plots, vivid characters and wit." -Baltimore Sun "Akunin';s wonderful novels are always intricately webbed and plotted." -The Providence Journal From the Trade Paperback edition.