Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Tarnished Icons: Stuart M. Kaminsky

This is the eleventh novel in Stuart Kaminsky's Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov series, set in Russia in the late 1990's. Many things have happened in Rostnikov's life since the end of Blood and Rubles. Since suffering an injury to one leg during combat in World War II, he has had difficulty walking and the condition was worsening. He now has an artificial limb and is getting used to it.

Rostnikov and his team in the Office of Special Investigations have a new boss, Igor Yakovlev, formerly of the KGB. And Rostnikov's son, Iosef, has decided to join the police and is working with Rostnikov's team. There are continuing changes in the lives of other members of the team. There have been tragedies, changes for the better, and challenges in their lives.

As usual, the team has several cases going at one time. The Office of Special Investigations is given the most difficult cases. Rostnikov's wife is Jewish and thus his son, Iosef, is half-Jewish. In Russia, this has sometimes causes problems in their lives. Now Rostnikov is asked to find out who is killing Jews in Moscow. In the most recent occurrence, three men from a new synagogue were gunned down. Other cases the team is investigating are a serial rapist who is called "the Silent One" and a bomber who is protesting the unsafe use of nuclear power.

This is a another series where the lives of the police team are just as interesting as the solution to the crimes. In Tarnished Icons, we get more background on all of Rostniknov's team. The crimes and their solution are interesting, but more in the context of the changes in Russia at the time.

Rostnikov is the do-it-yourself type. During the course of this story, in addition to hunting down the killers, Rostinikov helps the rabbi of the synagogue put heating ducts in. He is good at fixing things and teaching himself how things work. He is a self-taught plumber, and he  finds the work relaxing. He handles all the plumbing problems in the building he lives in. And there are many.

The nature of life in post-communist Russia as depicted by Stuart Kaminsky is grim. Crime is more common and bureaucracies and power struggles make a policeman's job difficult. The challenges of earning enough money to live and getting adequate housing, for example, are constant thorns in the side of the people  Sometimes the books have left me a bit depressed, although Rostnikov always has a positive approach to life. But this book left me with a very good feeling, and I look forward to the next one.


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Publisher:   Ivy Books, 1997
Length:      277 pages
Format:      Paperback
Series:       Inspector Rostnikov, #11
Setting:      Moscow, Russia
Genre:        Police Procedural
Source:      I purchased my copy.



13 comments:

  1. I do like Kaminsky's writing, Tracy, although I admit I'm more familiar with his Toby Peters novels. This series does have a solid setting (I must admit I've not (yet) read this particular novel). And the story sounds like a solid mix of the police case and the characters' personal lives -always a plus. Glad you enjoyed it.

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    1. I have read more of the Russian series, Margot, and only a few of the Toby Peters mysteries. But I have a lot of books in that series also.

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  2. I've read the first three or so, but am now very far behind. Glad you're enjoying these, but currently I'd rather read Longmire or Christie.

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    1. I would like to read all of Kaminsky's books, Rick, but since he wrote so many, it is probably not going to happen. Maybe sample all of the series. I have not read the Longmire series in a while, but am trying to read through all the Christie's bit by bit.

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  3. Never actually heard of this author, but the series sounds intriguing enough that I’m tempted to investigate - thanks for the tip. Enjoyed your review.

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    1. He has written several series, Crimeworm, so if one doesn't appeal, another one might. The series set in Russia is my favorite so far.

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  4. Tracy, I must see what I have from Kaminsky - other series I reckon - and dig one out. That's a couple you've read from him recently isn't it?

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    1. I read one from this series late last year, Col. Kaminsky has a series set in Chicago, Illinois featuring a Jewish police detective whose partner is Catholic (if I am remembering correctly). And a series set in Sarasota starring a widowed process server. I haven't tried that one at all and want to.

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  5. I'm guessing you've skipped around in the Rostnikov series, Tracy, but I know you've read more than I have. After your reommendation, I read the first in the series, Death of a Dissident, and have yet to read another. I enjoyed Dissident, but Kaminsky has slipped my mind since then--until now! Thanks for the reminder. I'll most likely read the next in the series, which I've come to prefer doing. Tarnished Icons sounds like another winner, but I believe I shall work my way toward it the old-fashioned way. Thanks for the reminder!

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    1. I have read the Rostnikov series in order, Mathew. I read the first 7 books in 2005, then did not get back to the series until 2012, when I read the 8th one. Only have 5 to go, and I am eager to get to Murder on the Trans-Siberian Express, book 14, so will be trying to read the next two soon. Have you read any of Kaminsky's Toby Peters series? I don't like that series as well, but Yvette at In So Many Words really likes that series.

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    2. Only the one Rostnikov, Tracy. I remember Yvette praising the Peters series. I miss her entertaining reviews. Have been trying to persuade her to return to FFB.

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  6. I think I've read a short story by him, and am always feeling I should look further, but I get confused about the different series and settings. If I had to pick one to read what would you say - the first of this series?

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    1. That is a hard question, Moira. I like this series best and one of the early books in this series won the Edgar, but you might like the Toby Peters series because of the time setting (1940s), in Hollywood, and humorous. I haven't read one of those in a while.

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