Fall Of A Cosmonaut Hardcover – Sep 21 2000
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
In this, the 13th of the series, Rostnikov's name is mentioned by a cosmonaut on board the space station Mir (If anything goes wrong, says Tsimion Vladkova as he relates an emergency situation on board, "please inform Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov."). Of course, something does go wrong. Vladkova returns to earth, then disappears. Rostnikov is told to find him, and his superiors are more than just a little curious as to why the cosmonaut should refer specifically to him! However, locating a "fallen cosmonaut" is not as easy as it seems; the Inspector knows that his case has the highest priority. No one knows if the Vladkova is dead, kidnapped, or has simply disappeared on his own. The government is concerned because he possesses valuable secrets!
As usual, Kaminsky has more than one story going on at the same time, all interrelated, and all equally exciting. One sub-plot deals with a movie director working on the life of Tolstoy whose film negatives have been stolen and are being held for ransom; another involves the undertakings at a paranormal research center, where the director is found murdered.
It takes the skill, the intellect, the presence of Rostnikov and his crew (Sasha Tkach, Emile Karpo, Elena Timofeyeva, and Arkady Zelach) to sort out and to solve all these problems. Kaminsky seems to have post-Iron Curtain Russia's "number" and "Fall of a Cosmonaut" only enhances the series! (Billyjhobbs@tyler.net)
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Life goes on for investigators with the Office of Special Investigation, Moscow, former Soviet Union. In his Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov series, Stuart M. Read morePublished on March 28 2002 by TundraBee
If you have read the other books in this Russian series by Stuart Kaminsky I think that you will agree that this one stands out. Read morePublished on Oct. 4 2000 by John T. Davis