A Fine Red Rain (Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov Mystery) Paperback – 1861
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Rostnikov sets out to investigate the deaths of two thirds of a high wire circus act (one a suicide and the other an "accident"). Rostnikov does not believe in coincidence, and when he interviews the third person in the act, he discovers that her life is in danger as well. The inspector finds that there is quite a bit of monkey business going on behind the scenes of the Moscow New Circus.
At the same time, Rostnikov's associates, Emil Karpo and Sasha Tkach are investigating cases of their own. Karpo is trying to track down a serial killer. Tkach has come across a black market for western goods. This subplot is quite fascinating, and gives us an interesting look at the extensive black market (along with accompanying police corruption) during the communist era.
Kaminsky's Rostnikov series is excellent, and I only regret that he hasn't been more prolific in writing these particular books. Fortunately for me, I have at least six or seven more to read. I'm already working on Rostnikov's Vacation.
You have to read this book in the context of the late 1980s Soviet Union. Gorbachev has just announced Peristroika, and a massive anti-alcohol campaign has begun. But all the strength of the System (read KGB)is still in place and Eastern Europe is quietly under the thumb of their own Communist Parties. But the cracks are beginning to show.
Enter our hero (literally) Inspector Rostnikov. He has recently been transfered (read demoted) to the local Moscow police from the equivalent of the federal police. He has been punished for trying to get out of the country by applying for exit visas to Israel for his jewish wife and son. His son who is in the army has been shipped to Afganistan.
The story which includes the 'murder' of two circus performers, the capture of a serial killer of prostitutes, and some machina- tions related to the black market is pretty straight forward stuff. It is the background stories related to the System falling apart, the day-to-day struggles of people to survive and the pervasive corruption in the System that makes this an interesting book.