Cover image for Fall of a cosmonaut
Fall of a cosmonaut
Kaminsky, Stuart M.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Mysterious Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
277 pages ; 24 cm
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Format :


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X Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Mystery
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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More persistent than fearless, Chief Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov makes his way through a ferocious storm, whose record breaking winds and rain push an iron bench along the street, to get inside the Petrovka headquarters where three peculiar investigations await him.

Cosmonaut Tsimion Vladovka's last words on Mir's recorders were instructions to contact rostnikov in case something went wrong with the mission. Vladovka is missing, and his fellow Mir cosmonauts are turning up dead.

Film director Yuri Kriskov is in fear of his life, threatened by the same chess-crazed lunatic who stole the only extant footage of his grand documentary on Tolstoy.

And two detectives enter the strange world of paranormal research to discover who murdered a leading scientist working on psychic phenomena during dream states...

Author Notes

Stuart M. Kaminsky is head of the radio/television/film department at Northwestern University in Illinois. He is also a writer of textbooks, screenplays, and mystery novels.

The more popular of his two series of detective novels features Toby Peters. Set in the 1930s and 1940s, the Peters books draw on Kaminsky's knowledge of history and love of film by incorporating characters from the film industry's past in nostalgic mysteries. Murder on the Yellow Brick Road (1978), for example, features Judy Garland while Catch a Falling Clown (1982) stars Emmett Kelley as Peters's client and Alfred Hitchcock as a murder suspect.

His other critically acclaimed series chronicles the cases of Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov. Kaminsky's detailed studies of Russian police procedure combined with aspects of life in Russia have earned the Series an Edgar nomination for Black Knight in Red Square (1984) and the 1989 Edgar Award for A Cold Red Sunrise (1988).

Stuart Kaminsky was born in Chicago in 1934 and died in 2009.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Prolific Kaminsky (the Edgar award^-winning author has three other series characters going) returns, for the thirteenth time, to the moody, caustic Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov of the Moscow Police. Rostnikov has a highly Russian habit of making every relationship complex, including the one he endures with his prosthetic leg, and serves as a kind of opera glass turned on post-Yeltsin Russia. Porfiry oversees three separate mysteries here: the disappearance of an astronaut after he is recalled from the disintegrating space station Mir; the murder of a research parapsychologist; and the prerelease theft of a movie about Tolstoy, considered the worst of all Russian crimes. These mysteries intersect like nesting dolls, with each hidden bit of information growing to a disturbing whole. Kaminsky is brilliant at pacing his revelations, giving his characters believable quirks, and, especially, bringing a complex society to life. --Connie Fletcher

Publisher's Weekly Review

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 softlyÄalbeit in garbled EnglishÄthe 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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

It's always a bit of a heady thrill to buck a trend, but in the face of overwhelming praise for Kaminsky's police procedurals featuring lovable and capable Chief Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov, this reviewer found it as easy to digest as a bowl of week-old borscht. The novel begins interestingly enough: an event aboard the Russian space station MIR sets into motion a series of earthbound crimes that include the death of an expert in parapsychology, the theft of a major film about Tolstoy, and the disappearance of the cosmonaut who asked for Rostnikov's help while still on MIR. Of course all of these threads are eventually woven together in an admittedly clever style, but the drab background of the crumbling Russian state, the Byzantine mixture of plot lines and characters, and the overly theatrical Russian accent used by reader Nick Sullivan make listening to this book a chore. Kaminsky has legions of dedicated fans who will gobble up this 13th Rostnikov novel, but this listener would take the crackling dialog found in Ed McBain's "87th Precinct" stories any day over this convoluted glimpse into the Russian police system. Buy for demand. Joseph L. Carlson, Lompoc P.L., CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.