Originally published in hardcover by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 1999.
In the late 1890s, Dimitri Kameron, a lawyer in Krusk (and now Deputy Procurator) becomes involved in the investigation of the disappearance an icon--of the One-Legged Lady. The disappearance comes during a famine in Tula (and surrounding villages), and demonstrations (which have attracted the interest of Volkov and the Corps of the Gendarmes--the Cossacks). Dimitri wants to resolve the disappearance of the icon and forestall any attack by the Cossacks on the villagers.
He's an appealing character--a "modernist," who believes the Law (capital L) has to be independent of the Tsar, and of the aristocracy, and especially of the Cossacks. (More than 100 years later...well, Vladimir Putin.) The second (and so far final) book featuring Dimitri (the first was 1997’s Dimitri and the Milk Drinkers), and Pearce clearly understands the time and the society in which he has set these stories.
The mystery element is fairly slight, but the issue of the rule of law is pretty central to most mystery novel. These books are no longer in print, and may not be easy to find, but they are worth the effort.