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Grand Duke Georgii Alexandrovich arrives in Moscow for the coronation, accompanied by three of his children and their alluring governess, Mademoiselle Declique. During an afternoon stroll, daughter Xenia is dragged away by bandits, only to be rescued by an elegant gentleman and his oriental sidekick. The passing heroes introduce themselves as Fandorin and Masa, but panic ensues when they realise that four-year old Mikhail has been snatched in the confusion.A ransom letter arrives from Dr Lind, an international criminal and the Moriarty to Fandorin's Sherlock Holmes. The letter demands the handover of the Count Orlov, an enormous diamond on the royal sceptre which is due to play a part in the coronation. Fandorin suggests that the value of the stone is paid in 'installments', buying the party a week to ensure the young boy's safe return. But can the gentleman detective find Mikhail in time, or will the Grand Duke's son meet with the same gruesome fate as Lind's last abductee - whom Fandorin could do nothing to save? Will Fandorin succumb to the affections of Xenia? And why is he falling to his death on the very first page? Our inimitable hero returns in a tantalisingly closely-matched battle of wills and of wiles.
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