Set during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, gentleman sleuth Erast Fandorin must find the traitor in the Russian ranks before the war is lost. He finds himself travelling with Varvara Suvorova a 'progressive' woman whose views are directly opposed to Fandorin's, arch-conservative and loyal servant of the Tsarist government. Fandorin has a little of Poirot, Holmes and Bond and his stammer disappears when the going gets tough. A stylish page-turner which mixes crime and history and makes you think about 21st century Russia as well.
The battle, however, was over before it had even begun. The horseman in the American hat ... pulled hard on his reins, coming to a total standstill, and out of nowhere a long-barrelled pistol appeared in his hand. Bang! Bang!-the pistol spewed out two angry little clouds of smoke and the bek in the tattered beshmet swayed in his saddle as if he were drunk and began slumping over to one side. One of the Bashi-Bazouks grabbed hold of him and threw him across the withers of his steed, and instead of joining battle, the entire horde galloped away in retreat.