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It’s Easter, 1872. Fires burn in St Petersburg, a prelude to the revolutionary turmoil that will shake Russia a generation later. As the springtime thaw begins, a body rises to the surface of the Winter Canal. Following an anonymous tip-off, magistrate Porfiry Petrovich is drawn into an investigation of the radical intellectuals who seek to fan the flames of revolution.
In the meantime, junior magistrate Pavel Pavlovich Virginsky plays a dangerous game of his own. Following a chance meeting with a man he suspects of being an arsonist, he volunteers to infiltrate a terrorist cell. But the young man’s loyalties appear divided, his motives conflicted. Will he track down the killers, or to use his position as a magistrate to further a cause with which he sympathises? The issue comes to a head in a shocking and violent confrontation between two generations.
The Cleansing Flames is the fourth book in R.N. Morris’ acclaimed series featuring the investigator from “Crime and Punishment”.
It is the middle of a hot, dusty St Petersburg summer in the late 1860s. A doctor’s wife and son die suddenly—and in excruciating pain. The doctor is arrested, suspected of poisoning. As investigator Porfiry Petrovich concedes, in such cases the obvious solution often turns out to be the correct one. And in the city’s stifling, stinking atmosphere, even he lacks the energy to look any deeper. But when further (and apparently unconnected) murders occur, something like a pattern seems to emerge. Porfiry is forced to reassess his assumptions and follow a tenuous, uncertain trail that takes him into the hidden, squalid heart of the city and brings him face to face with incomprehensible horror and cruelty.