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Fall Of A Cosmonaut [Hardcover]

Stuart M Kaminsky
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 21 2000
Rostnikov arrives inside the Petrovka headquarters only to find three very peculiar investigations waiting for him. First theres cosmonaut Tsimion Vladovka, then theres filmmaker Yuri Kriskov, whos fearing for his life after a lunatic stole his documentary on Tolstoy. And finally, theres the scientist who was murdered while researching psychic phenomena during dream states.

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From Amazon

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

From Publishers Weekly

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 softlyAalbeit in garbled EnglishAthe 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. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov, chief inspector in the Office of Special Investigation, had not witnessed such a sight in his more than half century of life. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Outstanding Russian Mystery Feb. 13 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Kaminsky writes 3, no 4, series of crime novels. The Toby Peters stories are enjoyable but only that. The Leiberman series has a bit more substance, but still read like the slow second movement of the standard 4 movement symphony. The Fonseca series has just begun. Vengeance was above average (compared to all mystery/suspense/crime/ whatever..writers). Retribution was much in the Leiberman vein--slow, winding down, world-weary ad nauseam. Where Kaminsky SHINES is in his Russian/Rostnikov series. Not all the dozen or so novels have been equally good, but even the weakest presents real, alive, fleshed-out characters, beginning with the truly inimitable Rostnikov ("the washtub") and his vampire-like underling Emile Karpo, probably the most striking and original continuing character in any myster/suspense series of ALL time. But it is the world of Moscow and the world of the highly-intelligent weight lifting Rostnikov that with his Jewish wife, playwright son (seques into detective), the Yak, the silver haired Colonel and all the colorful characters and settings that make this series vibrate with life. This latest novel, perhaps his best (and, sad to say, perhaps his last) is set up with the usual three plots, unrelated, except for Rostkinov getting involved in more than one. The plots involve the film industry, the space industry and the government funded paranormal acitivities research section. If you haven't read prevevious entries in this series, you will be impressed by this novel with its depth and color and unusually well-done dialogue (for a mystery). But having read all the previous novels, save the first, it is not only a good book but a triumph of Kaminsky in creating and forcing the reader to love and appreciate his characters not just as cogs in a plot (e.g. Read more ›
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4.0 out of 5 stars Oobla Dee Oobla Daa March 28 2002
Format:Hardcover
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.
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Format:Hardcover
Stuart Kaminsky makes no secret that the Inspector Profiry Rostnikov novels are inspired by the "87th Precinct" books by Ed McBain. Indeed, Rostnikov himself can ofter be found re-reading a dog-eared copy of one of the 87th Precinct books. Like their model, the Rostnikov novels usually depict a detective squad working multiple cases, seeking the little clues which eventually will point their way to solutions to the mysteries. The world of Inspector Rostnikov -- the Soviet Union and, in the later novels, post-Soviet Russia -- is even more morally ambiguous than McBain's fictional city of Isola, and Rostnikov often finds himself between serving justice and enforcing the law. I find Rostnikov, the gentle, physically powerful detective whose greatest relaxation is found in repairing faulty plumbing, to be one of the most appealing characters in modern crime fiction, a man both wise and compassionate. "Fall of a Cosmonaut" is another strong addition to the series, with the detectives pursuing three seperate mysteries while the stories of their personal lives advance yet further. I must emphasize that the Rostnikov books really should be read in order for maximimum enjoyment, as the characters and the crises in their lives progress from novel to novel and much would be lost if their futures were to be relieved too soon by reading out of order.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Suspense and the daily grind in crumbling Russia Nov. 9 2000
Format:Hardcover
The economic and political mess of Russia provides prime hunting grounds for Kaminsky's Edgar Award-winning ("A Cold Red Sunrise") Porfiry Rostnikov series. "Fall of a Cosmonaut" opens with a prologue set in the crumbling Mir Space station where Rostnikov's name is mentioned by cosmonaut Tsimion Vladovka in the midst of a major unexplained disaster.
A year later, Tsimion is missing and Rostnikov, head of Special Investigations, receives an ominous order to find him. Meanwhile, brooding Marxist stoic Emil Karpo and his unassuming partner Arkady Zelach investigate murder in a lab for paranormal research and Elena Timofeyeva (recently affianced to Rostnikov's son Iosef) and Sasha Tkach, his habitual depression overlaid by a peculiar euphoria since his life has bottomed out, are sent to recover a a great Russian epic film being held for exorbitant ransom.
The character-driven narrative shifts from case to case, encompassing the points of view of each investigator as well as various witnesses, victims and villains. The tone is a cross between Ed McBain's 87th Precinct (a particular favorite of Rostnikov's) and the Zen practicality of Janwillem van de Wetering. Personal developments entwine with investigations and everything is complicated by the daily difficulties of Russian life and occasional political incursions.
Kaminsky, who also writes the Toby Peters and Abe Lieberman series, delivers another well-constructed, well-written entertainment.
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