MURDER ON THE TRANS-SIBERIAN EXPRESS by Stuart M. Kaminsky
A PORFIRY PETROVICH ROSTNIKOV NOVEL
Warner Books, October 2001
In Russia, the concept of law and justice has been shaken. Mafias rule towns and even regions, powerful men battle for even more power, and the ghosts of the Soviet and Imperial past haunt everyone's memories. Yet, the police must continue to function, criminals must somehow be brought to court if not to justice. Chief Inspector Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov of the Office of Special Investigation is involved in three crimes, related only in the way that they show the breakdown in Russian society. A skinhead musician has been kidnapped; a killer is loose in Moscow's subways brutally knifing well dressed men; and somewhere on the route of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, a long-lost secret may be found--but only if someone is strong enough, and brutal enough, to pierce the layers of death that surrounds it.
Author Stuart M. Kaminsky has created a powerful vision of modern Russia and the men and women who police it, striving for justice despite their realization that this goal is unattainable. Rostnikov, in particular, is an interesting character with a rich history, a family that he cares for deeply yet cannot fully satisfy, and a boss whose goal is power rather than justice (see also our review of FALL OF A COSMONAUT, an earlier novel in the Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov series). Kaminsky has added depth to several of his other recurring characters, especially Zelach who shows an unexpected knowledge of rave music, and the brooding Emil Karpo.
MURDER ON THE TRANS-SIBERIAN EXPRESS feels authentically Russian. Kaminsky is able to present the heroism of the mundane in ways that reflect both the classic authors of Russia's past, and a far more lighthearted mystery tradition. Well Done.
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