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Rostnikov confronts a mystery that stretches from Moscow to the stars.
Once, Russian children wanted to be cosmonauts like Yuri Gagarin. But the Soviet Union is dead, and the days of Gagarin's glory are long passed. For the men and women aboard the decaying Mir space station, life is an unending series of near-disasters. During one such breakdown, cosmonaut Tsimion Vladovka asks ground control to contact Moscow police inspector Porfiry Rostnikov if anything happens to him. And when Vladovka disappears a year after his safe return to Earth, Rostnikov is the only man who can find him.
A philosophical detective, Rostnikov has made a name for himself navigating the bureaucracies of the Kremlin. But never has he encountered anything like the labyrinth that is Star City, home of the Russian space program. Something has terrified the cosmonaut, and since he knows dangerous state secrets, he must be found, alive or dead. But if a man who braved outer space is scared, what chance does an earthbound detective have?
About the Author.
Stuart M. Kaminsky (1934-2009) was one of the most prolific crime fiction authors of the last four decades. Born in Chicago, he spent his youth immersed in pulp fiction and classic cinema - two forms of popular entertainment which he would make his life's work. After college and a stint in the army, Kaminsky wrote film criticism and biographies of the great actors and directors of Hollywood's Golden Age. In 1977, when a planned biography of Charlton Heston fell through, Kaminsky wrote Bullet for a Star, his first Toby Peters novel, beginning a fiction career that would last the rest of his life.
Kaminsky penned twenty-four novels starring the detective, whom he described as "the anti-Philip Marlowe." In 1981's Death of a Dissident, Kaminsky debuted Moscow police detective Porfiry Rostnikov, whose stories were praised for their accurate depiction of Soviet life. His other two series starred Abe Lieberman, a hardened Chicago cop, and Lew Fonseca, a process server. In all, Kaminsky wrote more than sixty novels. He died in St. Louis in 2009.
"Impressive. . . . Kaminsky has staked a claim to a piece of the Russian turf. . . . He captures the Russian scene and characters in rich detail." - The Washington Post Book World.
"Quite simply the best cop to come out of the Soviet Union since Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko in Gorky Park." - The San Francisco Examiner.
"Stuart Kaminsky's Rostnikov novels are among the best mysteries being written." - The San Diego Union-Tribune.
"For anyone with a taste for old Hollywood B-movie mysteries, Edgar winner Kaminsky offers plenty of nostalgic fun . . . The tone is light, the pace brisk, the tongue firmly in cheek." - Publishers Weekly.
"Marvelously entertaining." - Newsday.
"Makes the totally wacky possible . . . Peters [is] an unblemished delight." - Washington Post.
"The Ed McBain of Mother Russia." - Kirkus Reviews.
Even middle-range Rostnikov is better than much other mystery fiction, as Kaminsky proves in his 13th book about the one-legged Moscow policeman, whose stature and resilience fully justify his nickname of "The Washtub." The three cases that occupy Rostnikov this time around have neither the depth nor the range of the crimes in 1999's exceptional The Dog Who Bit a Policeman, but taken together they do provide a sad picture of a country thrashing about in search of an identity. Rostnikov, a man enough at home in the world to sing softly--albeit in garbled English--the lyrics of a Creedence Clearwater Revival song during a rainstorm, is once again our perfect guide. He and his failed-actor-turned-cop son, Iosef, spend most of their time searching for a missing cosmonaut, one of the crew of the beleaguered Mir space station, who happened to mention Rostnikov's name on a tape before something bad happened in space that made him disappear after his return to Earth. Iosef's lover, Elena Timofeyeva, and her partner, Sasha, are involved with a nasty and pompous film producer, whose epic film on the life of Tolstoy has been stolen by people who want the producer dead. And Emil Karpo, Rostnikov's deliberately unimaginative deputy, is leading the investigation into the murder of an unpopular scientist at the Center for the Study of Technical Parapsychology. All these cases turn out to be less absorbing than they at first seem, but Rostnikov and his team are so vivid and palpable that it almost doesn't matter.