Reading the CWA Ellis Peters shortlist: R.N. Morris

Posted: October 25, 2011 in Book Awards, Historical, Russia

I have started reading the next book in my personal challenge to read the 2011 CWA Ellis Peters Award shortlist. This is The Cleansing Flames by R.N.Morris, and looking back to my review of A Razor Wrapped in Silk, his previous book in the St Petersburg mystery series featuring Porfiry Petrovich- the investigator from Crime and Punishment, I noted that at that time [March 2010] I was struggling with a shattered kneecap. I became so engrossed in the book and for a while forgot about the pain. Perhaps the handfuls of delicious codeine tablets helped as well.

The Cleansing Flames is set in Tsarist Russia in 1872, during a long period of revolutionary turmoil that culminated in the events of 1917. I am particularly interested in this part of Russian history, because my great grandparents and grandparents had the good sense to decide that frequent pogroms and providing cannon fodder for the Tsar’s wars was not a future they wanted for their descendants, and emigrated en masse to the UK. It was a sad irony that the family’s first child born in England [my uncle] was to die fighting in a British uniform in the September 1918 assault on the Hindenburg Line. 

I was a little surprised to find that this is the first time Roger Morris has been shortlisted for the award, although he did get  special mentions for A Vengeful Longing in 2008, and A Razor Wrapped in Silk last year. Hopefully this shortlisting will bring a lot more readers to this intelligent series.  

Last year Roger Morris was kind enough to submit to my online interviews which gave us some fascinating insights into the series. Here are the links to that interview, his own website and the reviews of his books.

The website of  Roger Morris. 

Part One of the Roger Morris interview 

Part Two

Part Three

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    Norman – I remember how much you enjoyed A Razor Wrapped in Silk. And let’s face it, anything that can make a reader forget about the pain of a shattered kneecap is a good, good read. I hope you’ll enjoy this one as well. Thanks, too, for the links to your terrific interview as well.

  2. Maxine says:

    Look forward to your review, Norman, I know Roger Morris is a favourite of yours.

  3. Norman says:

    Margot and Maxine these books are a wonderful glimpse at the colossal bureaucratic incompetent mess that was the Russian Empire. Here is a snippet:

    ‘You are aware,’ began the younger librarian, who was evidently more senior in rank,’that one of the titles you have requested is a restricted publication.’
    ‘ I was not aware of that. I was not even aware that there is a list of restricted publications.’
    ‘That is hardly surprising. The list itself is restricted.’

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s