The Turkish Gambit
The action here takes place in 1877 and 1878, on the Balkan front of a military conflict pitting tsarist Russia against the Ottoman Empire. Into this realm of posturing commanders and the foreign journalists whose florid prose makes those officers look better (or worse) than they really are ride Fandorin, now with the diplomatic corps, and Varya Suvorova, a strong-willed 22-year-old telegraphist hoping to reunite on the battlefield with her "future fianc?," an army volunteer. But Varya's efforts are frustrated when her intended is accused of espionage. His release can only be won by identifying the real informant-cum-saboteur, in which task Varya is willing to cooperate with Fandorin, despite her dislike of the stuttering and apparently "cold, disagreeable" former policeman. Amid profuse digressions concerning Turkish politics, female suffrage, and the harem system ("without it many women would quite simply starve to death"), Varya-trailed by lustful correspondents-investigates a suspicious colonel in Bucharest, only to become party to a deadly duel. A pair of officers are subsequently murdered, a guilt-ridden soldier hangs himself, and a British plot against Russia is alleged.