Father Ted said something along the lines of, "I liked the crime bit but I found the punishment a bit of a drag" (of course now I actually need the exact quote I can't find my copy of the scripts), and that was pretty much my feeling for several weeks, to the extent that I read a number of other books in the meantime. Finally, encouraged by wwhyte, I gave it a concentrated push over the last few days, and was duly rewarded.
The book has three stars - Raskolnikov himself, the actual criminal; Porfiry, the detective (whose surname I don't think we ever learn); and the city of St Petersburg, whose geography is a key part of the novel. The edition I have has a helpful map at the front which I'll now go back to. It's not geography bound to the same extent as Ulysses - but then, what other novel is? - yet I feel a certain confidence in the rest of the story once it's clear that the author has thoguht out the setting properly, even if (as in this case) it was a setting he knew well because he was living there at the time.
Anyway, I think I'll come back to this one. A decent literary start to the new year. And who knows, if I succeed in my ambition of improving my Russian I may be able to try it in the original:
В начале июля, в чрезвычайно жаркое время, под вечер, один молодой человек вышел из своей каморки, которую нанимал от жильцов в С—м переулке, на улицу и медленно, как бы в нерешимости, отправился к К—ну мосту.
Early in July, in exceptionally hot weather, towards evening, a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in S. Place and slowly, as though in hesitation, walked towards K. bridge.