There's been rising concern in Moscow over a wave of suicides among the city's young bohemians. An intrepid newspaper reporter, Zhemailo, begins to uncover the truth behind the phenomenon - that the victims are linked by a secret society, the Lovers of Death. But Zhemailo is not the only investigator hot on the heels of these disciples of the occult. Little do they realise that the latest 'convert' to their secret society, assuming the alias of a Japanese prince, is none other than Erast Fandorin. But when a young and naive provincial woman, Masha Mironova, becomes embroiled in the society, and Zhemalio dies a mysterious death, Fandorin must do more than merely infiltrate and observe. Especially when the spin of the Russian roulette wheel decrees that our dashing hero be the next to die by his own hand. Can Fandorin fake his own demise, all while outwitting the cult's dastardly leader?