This powerful novel, Tolstoy’s third major masterpiece, after War and Peace and Anna Karenina, begins with a courtroom drama (the finest in Russian literature) all the more stunning for being based on a real-life event. Dmitri Nekhlyudov, called to jury service, is astonished to see in the dock, charged with murder, a young woman whom he once seduced, propelling her into prostitution. She is found guilty on a technicality, and he determines to overturn the verdict. This pitches him into a hellish labyrinth of Russian courts, prisons and bureaucracy, in which the author loses no opportunity for satire and bitter criticism of a state system (not confined to that country) of cruelty and injustice. This is Dickens for grown-ups, involving a hundred characters, Crime and Punishment brought forward half a century.