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Morris was born in Manchester, England, in and now lives in North London with his wife and two children. Making his living as a freelance copywriter, he has continued to write, and occasionally publish, fiction. Yes, very much so. Notes from the Underground is a remarkable book. I think quite a strange one for a modern reader to get their head around, perhaps, because it does come so much out of the time it was written.

It is in a sense a response to another novel, What Is to Be Done? So their selfish acts turn out to be acts of altruism, and they go about organizing society in a more just way. The protorevolutionary movement provides the background for the novel. Porfiry refers to What Is to Be Done? Anyhow, Dostoevksy reacted strongly against this really quite artificial view of humanity. He knew that human beings were far from being wholly rational creatures—and even if they knew what was best for them, and for society, they would not be bound to act in accordance with it.

Vice, depravity, crime, addiction, alcoholism, all kinds of shameful behavior—people will choose to engage in all of these as a way of asserting their freedom, even though such behaviors are far from rational. Did you feel a risk in borrowing a character from such a major writer? I blame Penguin Classics! The blurb did its job in enticing me to read it, because at that time, as a teenager, I was more likely to read Conan Doyle than Dostoevsky—but it was a bit misleading, I have to say.

Anyhow that description stuck in my mind over the years, as I reread it a number of times, and I came to thinking that actually there was an idea for a novel—for a detective story with Porfiry Petrovich taking the central role. As for the risk, well, yes, of course. I was terrified of what the reaction would be from purists.

Why did you choose to make him a bachelor? There are intriguing clues in Crime and Punishment —about Porfiry claiming that he was getting married, that he had even bought a wedding suit, but it all turned out to be a hoax of some kind. There was no wedding and no bride. I found this incredibly intriguing and suggestive. There is also this idea, quite common in detective fiction, of the detective married to the job, who is over the years so engrossed in his career that the other aspects of life somehow seem to pass him by.

Why are you so drawn to nineteenth-century St. Petersburg as a setting for your novels? It is a fascinating period, a period of great intellectual, political and social ferment. There were tremendous pressures at work—radical ideas that found no legitimate outlet. Political activity as we understand it was virtually illegal. Dostoevsky himself was sentenced to death, though the sentence was commuted to exile at the last minute, essentially for taking part in a debating society.

He introduced a number of wide-ranging reforms, including the liberation of the serfs and a general relaxation of censorship. This led to a great intellectual and creative, especially literary, flowering. But official censorship was a fact of life. And, as a writer, I find that quite interesting. Incidences of bullying seem to be on the rise in the United States and often lead to serious acts of violence.

Is that also true in the United Kingdom? I imagine it is an ever-present problem. I was bullied as a child in junior school and I think it has had a profound effect on me. There was a time when, although not friendless, I did feel extremely isolated and unhappy. The particular boy who was bullying me was obviously a very dominant character, a gang leader, who had a big following in the class.

His family moved away and he left the school. I remember the first day he was not there, all the kids who had been in his gang and who had been making my life a misery for God knows how long, came over and sat with me at dinnertime and all said that they had never liked him and were glad he had gone. Even the boy whom I saw as his nastiest henchman was now smiling and being friendly to me. I subsequently heard that the boy who had been my bully had had an accident at his new school and had fallen off some gym equipment and broken his neck and been paralyzed.

This brought forth terrible feelings of guilt in me as I had wished him dead many times.

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There does seem to be a sense that the final violence comes from an outsider taking revenge for perceived wrongs. The big problem in the U. How do you plot out your novels? Have you already solved the mystery before you begin writing, or do you start off, like Porfiry, without a map or a clear destination? I do have it all fairly tightly plotted out. I come at the plot in a number of ways, using colored index cards for different story strands and character groups. I also use colored pens on tracing paper—that gives me a sense of the layers of the story. I also map out a kind of verbal story board—a grid of boxes with a brief description of an action sequence in it.

And then I write a fairly detailed chapter by chapter synopsis, in which usually the ending is fairly completely written, at least in dialogue. If that all makes me sound mad, then so be it. Petersburg such an important part of A Vengeful Longing? I came to see it as a metaphor for everything that was wrong with the czarist state, and how the faults in the system might lead to a rise in criminality. Just as the stinking ditch—an open sewer—breeds the flies that plague Porfiry. Metaphors can be pungent and tangible and concrete—indeed, that is how they carry their meaning, in a very precise, real way.

I sometimes think individuals are politicized by the smallest of things, by details in their lives, by things that go wrong for them. Not by abstract ideas, but by concrete grievances. And that the continual failure to sort out an intolerable problem might be the sort of thing that would push even a reasonable man like Porfiry over the edge. Porfiry is a character much like Sherlock Holmes who determines the essence of the crime picks it apart and then puts it back together to find the answer.

Morris has captured the essence of Russia of the nineteenth century.


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This book is an interesting and a compelling read. Aug 03, Anne Hawn Smith rated it really liked it Recommends it for: This is the second book I have read by this author and I had the same mixed feelings about the books. They mystery is great and the Magistrate Proferri is wonderful. He is something of a Colombo character and I really like him. The problem with the books is not really the fault of the author. It is the naming system the Russians use.

Each character is called by about three different names and it is very confusing. This is especially so when you are using an audiobook, which I was. With a book, y This is the second book I have read by this author and I had the same mixed feelings about the books. With a book, you can go back a chapter and see who the character is, but it is impossible with an audiobook. I found my self going back over parts trying to relate the action with the correct character.

That being said, I truly enjoyed the mystery and the personalities of the main characters. I also enjoyed the glimpse into Russian history and the Russian nature. I certainly will read more by the author, but I will allow extra time to go back and sort out the characters.

Since I am always doing something else while I am listening, this is not really an inconvenience. Apr 02, Simon rated it really liked it. The book opens with what looks like a straight ahead poisoning using chocolates but soon escalates into mulitple murders and intrigues and takes a good look at the seemy underside of late 19th St Petersburg with the prostitution and thinly veiled child prostitiution as well as all sorts of other A Vengeful Longing by RN Morris This is the second in Rogers excellent series of novels recreating Dostoeyevskies character Porfory Petrovich who was the investigating magistrate in Crime and Punishment.

The book opens with what looks like a straight ahead poisoning using chocolates but soon escalates into mulitple murders and intrigues and takes a good look at the seemy underside of late 19th St Petersburg with the prostitution and thinly veiled child prostitiution as well as all sorts of other nasty things happen as Porfory and his young assistant Virginsky finally manage to solve this crime wave.

Highly entertaining and as far as I can tell pretty true to the times and places he is trying to recreate, which can't be easy when your writing the books in modern day London.

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It also shows that there is plenty more for Porfory Petrovich to investigate and that A Gentle Axe was just the beginning. I look forward the the third installment that will no doubt be along soon. Sep 21, Bibliophile rated it really liked it Shelves: A Vengeful Longing is the second of R. Yet again, Morris creates a powerful and imaginatively rendered atmosphere, this time r A Vengeful Longing is the second of R.

Yet again, Morris creates a powerful and imaginatively rendered atmosphere, this time ranging from the opulent summer homes of aristocrats to the filthy, cholera-ridden underground dungeons inhabited by the poor of the teeming city. I liked this sequel even better than The Gentle Axe since I thought the characters were more original and owed less to Dostoevsky. I look forward to reading more of this series! A great follow-up to "The Gentle Axe," this novel finds Porfiry Petrovich and his assistant Virginsky -- the starving student from the previous book -- juggling three seemingly unrelated murder cases.

We know better, and Porfiry ultimately unearths the connection among them all. Petersburg again springs to life, this time in the stagnant, sweltering summer, when the fetid canals make the weather even more unbearable. The story is richly detailed and well plotted, though the ending comes toge A great follow-up to "The Gentle Axe," this novel finds Porfiry Petrovich and his assistant Virginsky -- the starving student from the previous book -- juggling three seemingly unrelated murder cases. The story is richly detailed and well plotted, though the ending comes together a little hastily compared with the sometimes languorous pacing of the first three-quarters of the book.

But the clues -- and the killer -- are in the story from early on. A satisfying, well-done period mystery. A Vengeful Longing was a fine, intricate mystery, and overall I thought it was worth my time. I love the protagnist, Porfiry Petrovich. There was something about him that reminded me of "Colombo" -- perhaps his slightly rumpled appearance, or his ability to remain under the radar so that others underestimate his superb deductive capabilites. The author does an excellent job of creating a sense of time and place, particularly in the second half of the novel, as he takes his readers to mental hosp A Vengeful Longing was a fine, intricate mystery, and overall I thought it was worth my time.

The author does an excellent job of creating a sense of time and place, particularly in the second half of the novel, as he takes his readers to mental hospitals and the slums of St. My only complaint was that the murderer's justification for his crimes seemed weak and unconvincing. A rainy Sunday, a need to shake off a cold by snuggling under the blanket and a perfect read for just such a set of circumstances.

Great storytelling and evocation of pre-revolutionary St Petersburg with the ever present stink of the Ditch in summer; the corrupt and hypocritical upper classes, the abject poverty of the peasant and the factory dweller and the earnest young men burning for social justice and ripe for revolution A superior example of historical crime fiction. Jun 24, Natasha Tasrib rated it really liked it.

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I wonder why did I never heard of this author before. His writing is not any less good compared to famous crime authors. Could hardly put it down once I'd started. What's different about this book is the setting of place and time. Set in Russia during the Tsar era, makes it even more interesting. Eventhough the stories are actually jumping from one to another, the author managed to make his ideas and storytelling seems s I wonder why did I never heard of this author before. Eventhough the stories are actually jumping from one to another, the author managed to make his ideas and storytelling seems so fluent and understandable.

Jan 25, Vilo rated it liked it Shelves: A mystery set in St. Petersburg, Russia, during the time of Czar Nicholas. Varying political ideas and social conditions are explored as the detectives try to solve the poisoning of a woman and her handicapped son. Interesting also in the descriptions of the smells and filth of the rivers laden with sewage and the risks of cholera, which I recently read about in The Ghost Map about John Snow's meticulous proof that contaminated water caused cholera deaths in London.

A couple scenes were more g A mystery set in St. A couple scenes were more graphically bloody than I prefer in a mystery. This is a historical crime novel to be savored slowly.

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I enjoyed the lush descriptions, the leisurely character development, and the strong sense of both place and time throughout the book. It was also fascinating to watch the "magistrate" detective, in our time work with the primitive investigative tools of the time.

No special effects-laden, CSI-take-off here; just good hard police work and a great deal of reason, logic, and observation. Jul 18, Simon Cleveland, PhD rated it liked it. Morris' representation of Russian 19th century character is engaging. Good focus on the rising independent thinking among the youth, the growing desire for rebellion, the idea that crime nests within the society and how this train of thought would become the root of communism. However, the mystery unravels slowly and seems predictable. For a great 19th century murder, thriller, mystery, try Caleb Carr's The Alienist.

Mar 10, Carol rated it liked it Shelves: Mystery set in midth century St Petersburg. Atmospheric, good twisty plot, interesting characters. Author is very knowledgeable about tsarist Russia, but I would have appreciated a brief glossary of Russian language words in the back as they were sprinkled throughout. Lead investigator is Porfiry Petrovich, a character lifted from Crime and Punishment. Jun 03, David Bisset rated it really liked it. One can literally breath the air of nineteenth century St Petersburg. The plot is complex and the characterizations are skilfully depicted. This is a historical novel with its focus on the dark side of the beautiful city.

Porfry comes from Crime and Punishment; the style of writing evokes the master himself! Jun 27, Meghan rated it it was ok. I really enjoyed the investigator in this 19th century murder mystery set in St. He was one of those extra clever detectives who reads people and cases always successfully. But, I thought the book missed its mark a bit. It seemed like it was aiming to do something with the cholera epidemics, but ended up being just a simple mystery about a wronged man.

Nov 19, Helen Azar rated it really liked it. Not the first of the detective series, but my first introduction to it.

A Vengeful Longing by R. N. Morris - Reading Guide - ywukakyzin.ml

The protagonist was originally created by Dostoyevsky, and Morris expands on him in this series. A pretty good mystery taking place during the second half of the 19th century in St Petersburg, Russia. At one point I thought I was able to predict the ending, but turned out to be wrong, which makes this the plot unpredictable! This is a Russian novel set in the Summer of I don't know how it got to my house.

But it was there so it had to be listened to. It was kinda good if only I could have remembered the names. The story was interesting and I had to listen to the end just to see "who done it! Mar 28, Diane rated it really liked it. This mystery novel feature the police detective from "Crime and Punishment" trying to solve a series of murdes in s Saint Petersburg. He has a young man with radical beliefs as his assistant. The author does a good job of producing dialogue between the two that is reminiscent of "Crime and Punishment.


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Aug 26, Marta rated it liked it. Read it just before traveling to St Petersburg, Russia, which is the setting for this book. Okay as far as mysteries go, but not especially informative for someone traveling in present-day Russia since it is set in the 19th century. Mar 06, Martha Johnson rated it really liked it. It is quite a feat to put a mystery into a historical context and have it work. I read these things because I love costume dramas and this has the best of them -- and then has a plot as well that isn't just about romance, for heaven's sake.

Jun 13, Gina rated it liked it Shelves: A murder mystery of increasing complexity that is awesome in the setup but suffers from the same problem I've found with other Russian-set mysteries: The magistrate thinks up the solution, then it's just there -- readers don't get to share in the imagining of it. Nov 21, Jessica rated it liked it. This author is a master of suspense!! I love the way he sums everything up at the end The only negative are the character names! One felt slightly off balance given references to a previous book in the series, but that aside, the writer paints a great picture of a dank and dirty urban world as well as well as fascinating portraits of a range of St Petersburg characters.

Overall, an absorbing mystery.