Crime and Punishment is the story of a murder committed on principle, of a killer who wishes by his action to set himself outside and above society. A novel of fearful tension, physical, and psychological, it is pervaded by Dostoevsky's sinister evocation of St Petersburg, yet in the life of its gloomy tenements and drink-shops provides moments of wild humour. Crime and Punishment was marked by Dostoevsky's own harrowing experiences. He had himself undergone interrogation and trial, and was condemned to death, a sentence commuted to penal servitude. In prison he was particularly impressed by one hardened murderer who seemed to have attained a spiritual equilibrium beyond good and evil: yet witnessing the misery of other convicts also engendered in Dostoevsky a belief in the Christian idea of salvation through suffering.