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The Dip, and How to Figure Out What to Do With Your Life

On the second day that I was visiting her in Toronto, Annie brought back a pile of books from the library. On the top was a tiny book with a cover so simple that it looked like it might be a children's book about potty training.

"A little book that teaches you when to quit (and when to stick)"

It seemed like a fluffy bit of entertainment. Something like "The Tipping Point" which is fun to read but not exactly a life changer. I was wrong, though. Dead wrong.

Author: Boris Akunin

On Books In Progress

Boris Akunin is the pen name of Grigory Chkhartishvili, a Russian author who writes various types of detective stories. Apparently he was concerned about the low standards of fiction available in post-Soviet Russia and set about writing a set of books to address that, each written to conform to a particular type of novel.

I first came across Akunin when I liked the look of his third novel, Leviathan, and bought it on a whim. On this occasion the whim was on the money and I devoured the book (not literally, books would make expensive food). I quickly acquired the rest of the books that have been published and is one of those authors that if I saw he had a new book out I would have to read it.

His main protagonist is Erast Fandorin, a Russian who starts off with a lowly job in the police force but eventually becomes a private detective. The novels are set at the end of the 19th Century and through the turn of the 20th Century. Fandorin is a detective in the Sherlock Holmes mould - he evaluates the facts calmly and logically to work out the solution, but is also capable of action, being an excellent shot and trained in martial arts.

The books are mysteries at heart - not always murders but there is always something to be discovered and worked out. The plots are usually complex and it is often not clear what the full scale is until near the end.

Fandorin makes an interesting character. He is resolute and determined and always tries to take the 'right' course regardless of the personal cost. He hates gambling but also always wins any game of chance he plays, a fact which is sometimes useful to him but other times an embarrassment or a real hindrance.

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