A Vengeful Longing


It’s the middle of a hot, dusty St Petersburg summer in the late 1860s. A doctor’s wife and son die suddenly and the doctor is arrested, suspected of poisoning. But when further, apparently unconnected, murders occur, Porfiry Petrovich is forced to reassess his assumptions. Delving into the hidden, squalid heart of the city, he is brought face to face with incomprehensible horror and cruelty, in this vivid rendering of a brutal and stifling nineteenth-century St Petersburg.

What the critics say

“As fans of Morris’s previous A Gentle Axe will know, this author not only has the nerve to lift his lead character from Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment but also the skill to bring that distant Russia and its inhabitants to life, while drawing parallels with our own world.”

The Guardian

“Morris’s descriptions of the horrors of insanitary slum dwellings in St Petersburg are extraordinarily vivid, but the most striking feature of the novel is the way in which Porfiry’s sophisticated understanding of human nature compensates for the limited investigatory tools at his disposal.”

The Times

“… a book that satisfies on more than one level — as a story of investigation and also as a historical novel crammed with sharply individualised characters.”

Andrew Taylor in the Spectator

“Right from the start, we are hooked by his storytelling panache.”

Daily Express

“Morris resurrects one of literature’s all-time greatest characters: Porfiry Petrovich, the detective from Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. The result reads like an episode of Columbo, but with feverish Russian psychology and the filthy overflowing canals of 1868 St. Petersburg.”

New York Magazine

“Morris captures this world with expert strokes… this novel stands out from a number of fine czarist-era mysteries-by Russians and foreigners alike-like a Fabergé egg at a yard sale.”

Publishers’ Weekly, Starred Review

“Musing on questions of love, regret, misery,injustice, disillusionment, etc., Morris seamlessly and brilliantly segues from intensely grave to laugh-out-loud funny. Provocative, satirical insights into humanity’s darker corners.”


“… richly evocative of its time and place.”

The New York Times

“A Vengeful Longing is in essence a novel about power, suffering, bitterness and the lengths that people will go for revenge. There is a darkness about A Vengeful Longing that leaves the reader repulsed yet fascinated… Strong and stirring.”

Crime Squad

“A Vengeful Longing confirms what RN Morris’ previous novel, A Gentle Axe, suggested – that here is major talent in the increasingly overcrowded historical crime field.”

Official amazon.co.uk review