The Killing of Anna Karenina, by Richard FreebornTerry Cooper
Date: 1st May 2014
Publisher: Dynasty Press Ltd
Anna Karenina, the heroine of Leo Tolstoy's masterpiece and the finest female portrayal in Russian fiction, became a social pariah through adultery. In suicidal despair she threw herself under a train. This was her alleged death. The truth is much more complex.
Prince Dmitry Rostov, Anglophile lover of English poetry, especially Shakespeare, has a bicycling accident. It occurs beside Wordsworth's "sylvan Wye". More sinister and worrying are a ghostly white figure, a strange black boat, a blood-red rose cast on the water, a train whistle and a gunshot, all of which make him witness to a "gap in nature" that will ultimately involve him in a unique quest for the truth.
Finding himself less seriously injured than he thought, he receives medical care and a night's rest at the home of the beautiful daughter of Lord Irmingham, a devotee of the late-Victorian cult of Tolstoyanism. Discovering that the prince had once met Anna Karenina, Lord Irmingham insists on having him as an honoured guest at his large country house, Stadleigh Court, among other guests assembled for a soiree devoted to celebrating Tolstoy's ideas.
But there is an important sub-text to the occasion, as the prince soon discovers. He is invited to confront the veiled, reclusive lady in the tower. Is she Anna Karenina? Is she now apparently alive and well and living at Stadleigh Court on the banks of the river Wye?
Entrusted with the task of identifying her, the prince finds himself drawn ever more deeply into a sympathetic understanding of her situation, her concern for her son, newly arrived from Russia but suddenly struck down, her joys and fears, above all her talk of threats and, finally, her claim to have "enemies". The soiree when it occurs proves to be fatally tragic. Her death overnight forces the prince to investigate. By dint of clever detective work and a certain amount of good luck he gradually uncovers the specifically Russian reasons for her killing.
An Epilogue to what is an ingenious and entertaining crime novel reveals how much more the prince has to tell his wife when she returns from visiting her mother in Russia.
'From the opening scene of the bicycle accident which plunges his hero into a complex and intriguing mystery, Richard Freeborn deftly weaves a first-class story which grips like a vice from the first page to the last.
Freeborn uses his deep knowledge of Russian history and society to construct a story that is so much more than a sequel to one of the great classic novels, and is a work of art - and a first class crime thriller - in its own right. A deeply satisfying tale at every level'..- Nigel Jones. Historian and author of 'Tower'; 'Rupert Brooke: Life, Death and Myth' and 'Peace and War: Britain in 1914'.
Dynasty Press, 36 Ravensdon Street, London SE11 4AR. Distributors: UK. Orca Book Services Ltd; US. Pathways; Designer: Two Associates;
Typesetter & book publishing services Shore Books and Design; Printers: Cromwell UK, Finland; Promoters: Colbert & Macalister, London.