Dmitri and the One-legged Lady

Dmitri and the One-legged Lady by Michael Pearce. Sometimes it takes an author a book or two to fully develop a character or situation and such was the case with Pearce’s Dmitri Kameron, an ambitious young lawyer serving in the turbulent and sometimes corrupt, Russian judiciary system. Dmitri is troubled by the oppression that he sees happening around him in the last decade of the 19th century as the tsar attempts to keep control of a population that grows more restless for the freedoms they hear happening elsewhere in Europe. Yet his family has served the tsar’s for generations and he hopes that by working within the system, he can make a difference.

Besides the government, the other major organization at the time was the Church and during a period of famine, the peasants pray to the numerous icons displayed prominently in each monastery. When one of those icons goes missing, Dmitri is asked to investigate in partnership with a man named Volkov from the Tsar’s Corps of Gendarmes. Volkov is an excellent addition to the cast of characters. He is a ruthless, paranoid inspector who uses Dmitri to gather intelligence about potential insurrections by the people. But he’s not the only one manipulating our hero. His young friends Sonya, Vera and Ludmilla all want him to help with their efforts to support the starving inhabitants of the villages. What Dmitri wants is a better Russia with an independent legal system. He is not convinced that all these competing factions can peacefully coexist, but he knows he’s stuck in the middle of it all.

Pearce’s normal conversational investigative technique, which did not seem to fit in the previous book of this series, is much less noticeable here and the book is better for it. It is unfortunate that the series was not continued as it seemed to be gaining traction.

By coincidence the ILL library that lent this book out was the Thomas S. Power Library at Offutt AFB in Omaha. I’ve been to the Offutt base several times for badminton tournaments hosted by the Top Flight Badminton Club, but have never been to their library.

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