Gentle Axe by R.N. Morris –

25 Mar

Cover Image

Gentle Axe
by R.N. Morris (aka Roger Morris)
ISBN 10: 0143113267
ISBN 13: 978-0143113263
Penguin Group USA
March 2008
Paperback, 352pp
Historical Fiction/Crime Novel

Also available in Hardcover, Audiobook-CD, MP3 CD

For readers that have been yearning for a book that speaks with an older, wiser voice, written in a long forgotten style, with a classic fluidity that can only be penned by a select few…Here ya’ go! R. N. Morris has delivered a novel that embraces the historic elements of a true masterpiece, indulges the nostalgic desires of the quintessential reader and satisfies even the most discerning contemporary suspense-thriller lover!

Fyodor Dostoevsky first introduced readers to criminal investigator Porfiry Petrovich, in the 1866 novel Crime & Punishment. The book is centered around the murder of a pawnbroker and her half-sister by a deranged, impoverished student, named Raskolnikov. It is a year after this mind-numbing case that Morris picks up the story and takes the reader deep into the investigator’s life and of course, a brand new murder mystery.

Searching for firewood in St. Petersburg’s Petrovsky Park, a woman stumbles upon a dead body hanging from a tree. Nearby, a second body, that of a dwarf, is found in a suitcase. A laundry list of items were initially left at the scene, however, by the time investigator Petrovich is alerted, via an anonymous tip, anything of value is missing, thus complicating an already difficult case. The search for answers will take the rotund detective through many facets of Russian society, from the dark, dank squalid apartments of the slums to the elegant, sprawling homes of the sophisticated elite. As the Park investigation continues, other, seemingly unrelated murders occur, forcing the investigation in a surprisingly new direction. To solve the Park case, Petrovich will have to think outside the box…connecting the dots of this disturbing case will prove to be even more difficult than the case that had defined him.

Morris unravels the layers of St. Petersburg and its residents, slowly, like a delicious, blooming onion, allowing the reader to savor the flavor and enjoy each and every bite. There are strong, no-non-sense characters and those that bring a lighter, at times, humorous element to the story, thus eliciting a myriad of emotions from the reader. Gentle Axe is not littered with red herrings and preemptive spoilers, instead it is based on a clever plot, written with artistic flair. The characters are drawn with the kind of intimate detail one ascertains from a photograph and the settings are constructed with the artistic eye of a painter. The author took a significant, yet calculated risk- borrowing the lead character, setting and back story from the famous work of a beloved writer, which could easily garner a host of negativity. However, creating a sequel that feels Dostoevsky-like, that reads like a true Morris original,  is a note-worthy accomplishment, indeed!A spell-binding novel that will definitely keep you up late…reading! And you’ll want to share this one with friends and coworkers –it’s really that good!

Happy Reading!
  – RJ


Audio-Book/Hardcover version:
         Cover Image

Morris never intended to fill the shoes of the man that came before him, but rather too borrow them for the first few steps of the incredible journey that became Gentle Axe. In the acknowledgements he actually apologizes to Dostoevsky. Although, it isn’t much of a stretch to say, if Dostoevsky were alive today he would be honored that 142 years after the publication of Crime and Punishment, author R.N. Morris has re-energized his initial character, brought St. Petersburg, Russia to readers in vivid, stunning detail and in doing so has extended the life of Crime and Punishment through another generation.

Crime and Punishment written by Fyodor Dostoevsky

    Quotes from:
Crime and Punishment

Talking nonsense is man’s only privilege that distinguishes him from all other organisms.

“You’re a gentleman,” they used to say to him. “You shouldn’t have gone murdering people with a hatchet; that’s no occupation for a gentleman.”

If it were not for Christ’s Church, indeed there would be no restraint on the criminal in his evildoing, and no punishment for it later, real punishment, that is, not a mechanical one such as has just been mentioned, which only chafes the heart in most cases, but a real punishment, the only real, the only frightening and appeasing punishment, which lies in the acknowledgement of one’s own conscience.

encyclopedia.jpgClick to read more about Dostoevsky and his works.

Crime & Punishment (enriched classics)

Crime and Punishment (Enriched Classics)

Crime & Punishmet @ SparkNotes:encyclopedia.jpg



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One response to “Gentle Axe by R.N. Morris –

  1. josh4dd

    April 11, 2008 at 10:49 am

    A huge fan of Crime and Punishment, i have been visiting your site for months, agreeing with 95% of your opinions, so when I read this one I immediately acquired a copy and agree 110% with your assessment of this book. It stands out among the others, I also picked up Vengeful”” I look forward to your thoughts of it as well.
    Thank you and have a nice day.



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