Pelagia and the White Bulldog: The First Sister Pelagia Mystery by Boris Akunin
Canine conspiracies, spurned lovers, murderous greed, jealousy, politics, power and knitting: Pelagia and the White Bulldog marks the beginning of an addictively entertaining new crime series from the internationally bestselling author, Boris Akunin.
In the dying days of the nineteenth century, the small Russian town of Zavolzhsk is shaken out of its sleepy rural existence by the arrival from St Petersburg of a Synodical Inspector with a hidden agenda and a dangerously persuasive manner.
Meanwhile, in the nearby country estate of Drozdovka, one of the prized white Bulldogs - prized because of its one brown ear, and its propensity to drool - belonging to the cantankerous lady of the house has been poisoned. The old widow has taken to her bed, sick with fear that her two remaining dogs may face a similar fate, and the many potential beneficiaries of her will wait fretfully to see whether or not she will recover.
Sister Pelagia: bespectacled, freckled, woefully clumsy and astonishingly resourceful is summoned by the Bishop of Zavolzhsk to investigate the bulldog's death. But her investigation soon takes a far more sinister turn when two headless bodies are pulled out of the river on the edge of the estate.