Posts Tagged ‘Porfiry Petrovich’

Friday, January 13th, 2012

New (Gentle) readers start here.

It’s possible that every now and then someone stumbles on this blog entirely by accident. Looking for something else – I can’t begin to guess what – you find this. Me. I can only apologise.

In all likelihood, you will speed-click back to google. Get the hell out of there! It’s some writer’s blog! If that’s the case,  you won’t be reading this now. So if you are reading this, the chances are you decided to spend a moment or two exploring. Trying to find out who the hell this R.N. Morris guy is.

So maybe, every now and then, I should take a little time to say a bit about myself and what I’m doing here. On the internet. With a website and blog. And everything.

So yes. I’m a writer. Of fiction. Crime. Mostly. Murder stories. Set in the past. In Russia. Sorry, I tend to come over all inarticulate when I try to talk about myself and my writing. Awkward. Especially when every writer these days has to be his or her own publicist.

I’ve written a series of four novels set in St Petersburg the the 1860s and 1870s. The central character of the series is Porfiry Petrovich, a character I took from Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment.

I’m told the books are at the literary end of the crime fiction genre. I don’t know anything about that myself. I just try to tell the stories as best I can.

If the series piques your interest, A Gentle Axe is probably the place to start. It’s the first book in the series. That’s not to say you have to read the books in order. Each one is designed to stand alone, but there is a progression in the relationships between the central characters. So. Up to you. The other books are A Vengeful Longing, A Razor Wrapped in Silk and The Cleansing Flames, the last of which was published in 2011. In April 2012, I’m publishing the first book in a new series, called Summon Up The Blood.

If you’ve got a kindle, you can download A Gentle Axe now for just £1.42. I know the prices change on amazon, so by the time you read this – if you get this far – the price may have changed.

Here are some of the things reviewers said about the book (which was called The Gentle Axe in America) when it came out:

“Lush, and exceptionally compelling, but take your time – R.N. Morris’s The Gentle Axe has a vast depth of Russian soul; mysterious, compassionate, and utterly irresistible. Alan Furst

“Morris’ recreation of the seamy side of 19th-century St Petersburg is vivid and convincing … As to who did it, Morris keeps the reader guessing until the end.” The Independent

“R. N. Morris has produced perhaps the most audacious police-inspector novel of the season with “The Gentle Axe.”….The tale hums along with controlled excitement, as if written by a Russian minimalist and rendered by a fine translator. The psychological and spiritual themes seem worthy of Dostoyevsky; there are traces of Gogol and Gorky, too. Such an accomplished book transcends pastiche.” The Wall Street Journal

It’s a satisfyingly grisly yarn… “CSI: St. Petersburg.”” The New York Times Book Review

“[A] smart, hypnotizing tale of crime and duplicity.” The New York Sun

“The story is told ably in the classic whodunit twisty-arc style, reminiscent of the sleuthing of Nick Charles, Sherlock Holmes and Columbo, the mussed-up character based partly on Dostoevsky’s trench-coat-clad Petrovich. Dirty Harry could easily be referenced, too…” The San Francisco Chronicle

“Morris has created an atmospheric St Petersburg, and a stylish set of intellectual problems, but what makes A Gentle Axe such an effective debut is its fascination with good and evil. It has earned its author the right to make use of the work of a greater writer.” Times Literary Supplement

“A Gentle Axe is tense, atmospheric and bristles with the kind of intelligence you’d read, well, Dostoevsky for… a piece of literary fun.” The Independent on Sunday


“Morris has dug deep into the Russian soul in this book, and his dark, dank, dangerous St Petersburg, with its snowbound, windswept streets and stinking slums, is brilliantly recreated. The hunt for the murderer is tense and atmospheric: the denouement brutally shocking and moving. A worthy sequel to one of the greatest novels ever written: and a cracking thriller in its own right.” The York Press


Friday, October 28th, 2011

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Okay, I was amazon checking again. I know, I know. I should be past that by now. But I was just checking out the amazon page for A Gentle Axe and I discovered something rather interesting, and a little wonderful. Listed among the Other Items Customers Buy After Viewing This Item was Crime and Punishment.

Now I know Dostoevsky doesn’t need any help from me, but I do find it extremely gratifying to think that one or two new readers might be finding their way to his great masterpiece via my novels.

In case you didn’t know it, my series of St Petersburg Mysteries – A Gentle Axe, A Vengeful Longing, A Razor Wrapped in Silk and The Cleansing Flames – feature Porfiry Petrovich, the investigating magistrate from Crime and Punishment. Essentially, my series wouldn’t exist without Dostoevsky’s book. So, as far as this series is concerned, I owe everything to Fyodor.

If I can send a few readers his way, then maybe it will go some way towards repaying the debt.

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Author sets fire to his own book.

This is the trailer for my next Porfiry Petrovich novel, THE CLEANSING FLAMES, due out in May:

To make it (yes, I made it myself), I had to burn a copy of the novel, which was a particularly hard thing to do, as it doesn’t exist as a book yet.

Alex, my tireless publicity maven at Faber, came to my aid and created a mock-up using a print out of the cover wrapped around another book. The book she used was… well, maybe on second thoughts I shouldn’t disclose which book she was suggesting I should burn. Suffice it to say it was another Faber author’s. I’m sure she picked it because it was roughly the right size to fill out the cover she’d printed off. Not because she had anything against the author in question. Still, discretion might be the order of the day here.

It didn’t matter anyhow because I didn’t feel it was right to burn another author’s book, and besides it was one I hadn’t read and quite fancied, so I decided to save it from the flames. I wrapped the cover around one of my own copies of A RAZOR WRAPPED IN SILK and burnt that instead.

I only had one print-out, so I prayed that I would get the shot I wanted at the first take. I think I was lucky. I pretty much got the effect I was after first time.

There’s no reason why I shouldn’t burn one of my own author copies, if the fancy takes me. But even so, it still felt weird and strangely taboo. A writer shouldn’t burn books. Full stop. But I have to confess it was strangely liberating. That’s the thing about breaking taboos, I suppose.

Somehow it broke the hold my books have over me. There is a sense that you become imprisoned by what you write. Which is perhaps just an overly dramatic way of saying pigeon-holed.

As far as I know, THE CLEANSING FLAMES will be the last in my Porfiry Petrovich series. Maybe my desire to set fire to a symbolic copy of it was not just driven by the need for an arresting image for the trailer. Was it also some kind of funeral pyre for the series? The subconscious is a funny thing.


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