Murder intrudes on a Moscow cop’s vacation: “Kaminsky’s Rostnikov novels are among the best mysteries being written” (The San Diego Union-Tribune).
Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov is finding spring in Yalta to be quite lovely. Accompanying his wife, Sarah, as she gets much needed rest and recuperation after her surgery, reading American crime novels, and gazing at the Black Sea, the Moscow cop is reasonably content—even if his superiors did insist that he take this vacation. But his time off is destined to be short-lived. A former colleague with emphysema has come south to improve his health. Instead Georgi Vasilievich has dropped dead from what appears to be heart failure. The inspector is not so sure.
The local officials want to sweep the incident under the rug. But it turns out Vasilievich was investigating a high-level military conspiracy. Rostnikov takes a look at his files, putting him on the trail of a gang of hardliners who refuse to give up the Soviet dream—and who will go to murderous lengths to ensure that perestroika never comes to pass.
With his Edgar Award–winning Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov series, “Kaminsky takes care not to rob his beleaguered cops of their human core—a courtesy he also extends to Moscow, which comes across as a character in its own right: rough and dangerous and somehow tragic” (The New York Times).
The central element of this seventh in a series (including 1988's Edgar-winning A Cold Red Sunrise ) pits the wise, humane, brave Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov against proto-Stalinist bureaucrats in the KGB, MVD and GRU who seem to be plotting to assassinate Grobachev and other reformers, with the blame to be put on the CIA. Quite aside from the cliched nature of the plot, the novel is highly manipulative, borrowing Hollywood's jump-cut technique to fracture the story into short takes that leave the reader mystified as to who's doing what to whom and why. The recently demoted Porfiry has been ordered to take a vacation. Accompanying his wife, who is recovering from brain surgery, to Yalta, he becomes involved in investigating the murder of another senior investigator. Meanwhile, back in Moscow, Porfiry's associate Emil Karpo is also ordered on vacation, although he's closing in on a flaky teenage killer who is being egged on by a purported American whose lures include drugs and promises of Madonna records and a fling in Las Vegas. The background of misery, seediness and anti-Semitism as a byproduct of perestroika reflects today's headlines, but the story, although entertaining, strains credibility.