A novel featuring the humorous and stoical Russian detective, Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov. Demoted after his clashes with the KGB, Rostnikov and his two unusual assistants set out to solve the murder epidemic in Moscow's richest and poorest districts. The author also wrote "A Cold Red Sunrise".
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What Reviewers Are Saying
Kaminsky, author of the thin, foolish Toby Peters mysteries, seems to become a completely different, far better writer when producing the Moscow police-procedurals that feature Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov (Red Chameleon, etc.). This fourth entry - which gives equal attention to three separate cases - is a model of solid, textured work in the genre tradition of Ed McBain's 87th Precinct (Rostnikov's favorite reading matter, as it happens). Young, sensitive cop Sasha investigates a black-market dealership in American videotapes - only to realize that a higher-up is planning to use the evidence for his own swinish profit; so Rostnikov helps his former protege to trap the creepy bureaucrat. Meanwhile, neurotic, obsessive cop Emil Karpo - devout Marxist, guilt-ridden frequenter of prostitutes - is maniacally hunting down the psycho who has killed a series of Moscow prostitutes over the past five years, (When Karpo figures out the identity of the killer - who happens to be a police-station file clerk - he uses his own favorite whore, perky Mathilde, as bait.) And Rostnikov himself, recently demoted, yet again runs afoul of the KGB - when he insists on investigating a pair of strange deaths (one suicide, one "accident") involving trapeze-artists with a traveling circus. In all three cases, the villains are apparent from the start (aside from one small twist), so there's little conventional mystery or suspense here. But, with appealingly offbeat policemen, intriguing characters all along the way, and briskly convincing Soviet backgrounds, Kaminsky maintains steady, low-key interest - and a rueful, downbeat (yet never oppressive) tone. (Kirkus Reviews)