Murder on the Leviathan

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Leviafan book.jpg
Russian hardback version
Author Boris Akunin
Original title Левиафан
Translator Andrew Bromfield
Country Russia
Language Russian
Series Erast Fandorin
Genre Historical detective
Publisher Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Publication date
Published in English
April 2004
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 704 pp
ISBN 0-7538-1843-4
OCLC 57282875
Preceded by The Turkish Gambit
Followed by The Death of Achilles

Murder on the Leviathan (Russian: Левиафан ("Leviathan"); British edition titled Leviathan) is the third novel in the Erast Fandorin historical detective series by Boris Akunin, although it was the second book in the series to be translated into English. Its subtitle is герметический детектив ("hermetic detective"). Akunin conceived of the Fandorin series as a summary of all the genres of detective fiction, with each novel representing a different genre. Leviathan is his nod to Agatha Christie's style, with an exotic setting, a cast of unusual characters who each have secrets of their own, and a strange murder to start the action.

Plot summary[edit]

The novel is set in 1878. The story opens with the murder in Paris of Lord Littleby, all seven of his servants and two children of servants. All were poisoned except for Littleby, who was bludgeoned with an ancient Indian artifact, a golden statuette of Shiva, which belonged to Lord Littleby and was stolen from his room, along with an old Indian shawl.

French detective Gustave Gauche, in charge of the investigation, boards the passenger ship Leviathan. Gauche knows that the murderer must be one of the first-class passengers, because one of the special golden badges for the ship's first-class passengers was left in Littleby's room. Among the suspects are a Japanese army officer, an addled English aristocrat, a married Swiss woman, and a clever young Russian diplomat on his way to his new post in Japan. The diplomat is Erast Fandorin, the master detective, who shoots down each of the ineffectual Gauche's incorrect conclusions, and in the end takes it on himself to find the murderer.

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • Leviathan was nominated for Best European Crime Novel in the Gumshoe Awards 2005.[1]

BBC Radio Adaptation[edit]

The novel was adapted for the BBC's Saturday Play. Simon Robson played Fandorin and Stephen Moore as Gauche. The original broadcast was on 3 December 2005.


  1. ^ Gumshoe Awards 2005

External links[edit]

  • Full text of the novel, in Russian, at Boris Akunin's official website.
  • Short New York Times review
  • TimesOnline review