Fall of a Cosmonaut by Stuart M. Kaminsky
It's no coincidence that Chief Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov, Stuart Kaminsky's popular Moscow policeman, reads Ed McBain novels. McBain's 87th Precinct and its denizens are a lot like Kaminsky's Office of Special Investigation, and in this 13th outing in the author's series featuring Rostnikov and his colleagues, the parallels are particularly outstanding. Kaminsky, who also pens the Toby Peters, Abe Lieberman, and Lew Fonseca series, has published extensively on Hollywood icons such as Gary Cooper and Clint Eastwood, worth noting because his detectives share many of their qualities and more than a little of their style.
This lively thriller has Rostnikov and his investigators working three cases: the disappearance of a cosmonaut; the theft of the final negative of a Russian movie epic on the life of Tolstoy; and the murder of a parapsychologist. Each offers a handful of suspects, motives, and an opportunity for one of Rostnikov's detectives to take center stage: the inspector and his son Iosef on the search for the last survivor of a mission on Mir gone horribly (and secretly) wrong; Sasha, whose wife and children have left him and whose mother is driving him crazy, trying to sort out who's behind the extortion attempt on the movie producer; and Karpo and Zelach, assigned to the murder at the Center for the Study of Technical Parapsychology, where, to Zelach's dismay, his unusual (and unwelcome) telepathic gifts are accidentally discovered by a researcher who won't take no for an answer.
In due time, the cases are solved, the loose ends wrapped up, and the lives and loves of Rostnikov and his men have become as important to the reader as the guys at the 87th Precinct have become over time to McBain's readers. Both authors share a mastery of their craft, an unhurried but intellectually challenging pace, and a gift for characterization that is equaled by few other writers in the genre. --Jane Adams
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Oobla Dee Oobla Daa, March 28, 2002
from the Land of Sky Blue Waters
Life goes on for investigators with the Office of Special Investigation, Moscow, former Soviet Union. In his Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov series, Stuart M. Kaminsky has deftly transplanted the Ed McBain police procedural to Russia: individual detectives, each having his/her own serial back stories, investigating different cases. And through the time span of the series, the reader also watches the Soviet Union disintegrate. In this, the 13th installment of the series, Putin is in power in Russia and the men and sole woman of the OSI are tracking down a missing Mir Cosmonaut, the theft of a major motion picture negative on the life of Tolstoy - due to premiere soon in Cannes, and the murder of a research physiologist at the Moscow Center for the Study of Technical Parapsychology. This is not a "cozy" Jessica Fletcher-type murder mystery series. The brooding of the Russian soul is frequently mentioned. "The Yak," former KGB functionary, is directing Rostnikov, and the one-legged decorated veteran of the War Against Nazi Aggression must "walk a tight-rope" between his conscience and the ever-shifting Powers That Be. The spectre of Chernobyl and the tension and power-struggles in the wake of the Soviet Union loom constantly in the background. Prolific author Kaminsky gives the reader a feel for the people and politics while raconting a riveting tale.